Luis A. Cruz DMD

Benefits to choosing that perfect toothbrush: to a lifelong, healthy smile

December 18th, 2019

Tooth decay can begin as early as age 1. Children with tooth decay are far more likely to develop immediate and long-term oral health issues, including pain, infections difficulty speaking, problems eating food, tooth discoloration and even tooth loss. At Little Smiles, we can guide you with preventive dental care facts and with choosing the perfect toothbrush that best benefits your child’s needs.

Birth to 2 years old: Perfect Guide to preparing your child for the teeth cleaning that is to come

Can you believe choosing the right toothbrush begins before your child’s teeth erupt? It begins right at birth! From the time we’re young, we’re taught that using a toothbrush regularly is one of the best ways to keep our teeth and gums healthy. But which toothbrush is best?
When a child is an infant, they first explore the world through their mouths, right? You may even start to notice this at the age of four months old.  At Little Smiles, we suggest parents start from birth introducing your baby’s mouth and gums with a soft cloth or infant toothbrush at bath time.
If they are ready to move on from the cloth, you could introduce your child with a silicon finger toothbrush. This can be done by presenting him or her in a fun way with an infant silicon toy that has soft bristles on it, like a baby banana shaped toothbrush. Or you could also choose to use the silicon finger toothbrush can be used to gently massage his or her gums.

Remember, tooth brushing is something you want your child to eventually participate in daily. The earlier you introduce the process in a fun, stress-free manner the more likely your child will participate later in life without hesitation.



Bottle feeding and teething: how it affects your baby’s teeth

At Little Smiles, we suggest if your baby is given a bottle when going to sleep, try to use nothing but water. If bottles contain any sugary liquids or carbohydrates such as milk, formula or fruit juice, it can put teeth under attack from bacterial acid all night long. If choosing to give that last bottle of milk, be sure to not forget to use a soft cloth or infant toothbrush before going to bed.

Teething is a big deal! When giving your baby a teething ring, we recommend using a firm rubber teething ring to chew on. This helps with any discomfort and potential pain of TEETHING. Avoid liquid-filled teething rings, or any plastic objects that might break. Remember if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask our Little Smiles team to help maintain a lifelong healthy smile!

2-5 years old guide to a healthy smile:

Did you know the most important time to brush your child’s teeth is right before bedtime? Although, you must remember to brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. That last thorough brush at night is the most important. Keeping up with your child’s dental visit every six months is also a great way to keep away those little sugar bugs and helps remove and control tartar. In the meantime, keeping up with good oral hygiene habits at home is very important!

Starting at the age of 2 is the perfect age to choosing that perfect toothbrush. It’s fun at this age! Around this age, parents may be wondering whether a high-tech powered toothbrush may be more effective in cleaning children’s teeth than a manual toothbrush. Let me tell you, electric toothbrushes are fun and exciting. Many children love them because of its powered rotation and parents believe electric toothbrushes are more efficient and clean teeth quicker than the manual version. It is all in what your child’s need’s may be. Remember, every child is different!

Electric toothbrushes vs manual

The American Dental Association recommends soft-bristle brushes and to replace your toothbrush at least every three to four months or more often if bristles are visibly matted or frayed. It is very important you make sure you choose a toothbrush that’s the right size for your child’s mouth and avoid hard bristles that can irritate your child’s gums.

Choosing the perfect toothbrush is a lot of fun! Electric toothbrushes are fun and exciting! Many Children love them because of its powered rotation, music, timer, or even fun lights the electric toothbrush may feature. Parent’s believe that the electric toothbrush are more efficient and clean teeth quicker than the manual version.

Although, powered toothbrushes are fun and exciting for children, we believe that both manual and powered toothbrushes are effective at removing plaque. However, studies have shown certain types of powered toothbrushes with rotation oscillation movement to be more effective. This means bristles go around and round, back and forth.

If you clean your teeth regularly using proper brushing technique, you should be able to reduce plaque build-up and keep your gums healthy with either manual or powered toothbrush. Here are some benefits to both toothbrushes!



5 Benefits to using Electric toothbrush:

  • Breaks up plaque and rotates to clear it away
  • Removes more plaque along gum line
  • Different modes to cleaning: Deep cleaning, whitening, sensitivity, tongue cleaning
  • Does the work for you
  • Timer: 2 minute brush seeing


If your child tends to brush too vigorously, which can damage your gums and teeth, a powered toothbrush may make it easier for your child to be gentle on their gums and teeth and get them clean all at the same time.


Manual Toothbrushes

Manual toothbrushes may not have all the bells and whistles found in many electric toothbrushes; they are still an effective tool for cleaning your child’s teeth. We all know the manual toothbrush has been around for a long time.


Benefits manual toothbrushes

  •  Does not need to be charged to function
  •  You can use a manual anywhere and at anytime
  •  Affordable
  •  You can find them anywhere

Most importantly, when it comes down to it, the best toothbrush for you is going to be the one you’re most likely to use and use well. Some children may not like the vibrating feeling of a powered toothbrush. Other children might find an electric variety easier to use to clean all tooth surfaces. If your child enjoys using his or her toothbrush, they are more likely to brush for the recommended time of two minutes. Some powered varieties even have built in timer to let you know when you’ve devoted enough time to brushing.



Early introduction can lead to a stress free, battle free tooth brushing later! Getting your children involved in the process and excited about a new toothbrush may make tooth brushing a more enjoyable task. At Little Smiles, we can help you choose that right toothbrush that best fits your child. If you have any question, concerns, you can always contact us at Little Smiles!



How to help break your child's thumb sucking habits

July 29th, 2019

Thumb sucking is a soothing, reflexive behavior, a natural reflex for infants and young children and most children stop on their own. It begins in the womb, before birth. Infants and babies often continue this relaxing practice after birth, which often helps to soothe them into sleep.

Effects of thumb sucking on your child’s teeth and mouth

Parents often worry about the effects of what thumb sucking will mean for your child. When a child continues sucking after they have teeth, it can lead to "crooked" teeth and bite problems ,affecting both baby teeth and permanent teeth.


Thumb sucking may cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and alignment of the teeth, causing the upper front teeth to tip outward and the upper jaw to narrow in the back. The roof of the mouth can also see changes due to this behavior, that makes intervention necessary in some cases to ensure a child is still able to chew properly.

Although, some of this can be fixed with braces, it can also cause speech problems such as a lisp that may need to be corrected in therapy. Below you will find a few ways thumb sucking affects your child's teeth.


Ways thumb sucking can affect your child’s teeth

  • Thumb sucking and the impact it will cause to a child’s alignment-When your child’s teeth grow in, it is normal for the upper teeth to overlap the lower teeth. However, a child’s thumb puts extra pressure on the gums and it can keep the teeth from erupting in the right position for a proper bite.


  • How thumb sucking affects a child's bite- An open bite is a common problem when it comes to thumb-suckers. This is when the upper teeth do not cover the lower teeth when child is biting down. Another common problem is a posterior crossbite. This is caused by a narrow palate because of the pressure created by the habit. When a crossbite is present the outer part of the upper molars bite in the center of the lowers.


  •  Speech issues -Thumb sucking can cause speech issues. Lisp is another problem that children may encounter and find difficult to overcome.


  • Tongue thrusting - When a child suck their thumb for an extended period of time, he/she can develop a secondary habit call tongue thrusting. The child move the tongue forward when swallowing and speaking. Even after stopping thumb sucking, a child will continue with this habit creating long term speech problems, swallowing difficulties and abnormal development of the jaw.


According to the American Dental Association, most children stop thumb-sucking somewhere between 2 and 4 years of age or by the time the permanent teeth are ready to erupt. At this time it could be to late.


Encouraging ways to approach your child to stop thumb sucking

  • Use positive reinforcement: praise your child or provide a small reward such as, an extra bedtime story, a trip to the park or placing stickers on a calendar to record the days when your child successfully avoids thumb sucking.
  • Offer gentle reminders
  • Focus on praising your child when they are not thumb-sucking
  • Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure or needing comfort. Focus on correcting the cause of the anxiety and provide comfort to your child.
  • For an older child, involve him or her in choosing their method of stopping.
  • Come up with creative ways to help your child understand that he is growing up and one day wont suck his thumb anymore.

If your concerned about the effect of thumb-sucking on your child's teeth. At little smiles we are here to help and answer any of your concerns.


What to do if nothing works?

Don't worry! For some children, thumb sucking is an incredibly difficult habit to break. Try not to worry, if putting too much pressure on your child to stop thumb sucking it could only delay the process.


In some occasions a appliance called habit breaker is necessary to stop a thumb or finger sucking habit. This is a passive appliance that is placed on the roof the mouth that blocks their fingers from being placed on the palate. Most of the time, a fix appliance (glue to the back molars) requires little maintenance. The habit breaker is placed for a minimum of 3 months. If you have any questions, please give us a call, and we can determine if a habit breaker is right for your child.

Parent’s time to get creative “bye-bye pacifier”

Did you know that, pacifiers can affect your child's teeth essentially the same way as sucking fingers and thumbs? The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends a pacifier over a thumb to comfort new babies since a pacifier is easier to break at an earlier age.


At little smiles, we believe frequent pacifier use over a longer period of time can affect the way a child’s teeth bite together and the growth of the jaw. The upper teeth may tip outward or become crooked and other changes in tooth position or jaw alignment could occur. The earlier a child can stop a sucking habit, the less chance there is that it will lead to orthodontic problems down the road.


What should you do if your child wont give up their pacifier?

We suggest our parent's find out what causes your child to cry out for their binky. Once you have identified which situations triggers your child's desire for a pacifier, be ready to replace it with comfort and reassurance. It can be helpful to swap out the pacifier with a transitional object such as a cuddly doll or stuffed toy. Additionally, distracting your child with a fun activity can help take their mind off the desired Binky. Be sure to offer positive reinforcement and praise when your child sleeps through the night or self-soothes without his or her pacifier.

Another idea is to take your child and pacifier to the store to pick out a new toy to replace their pacifier. There are many experienced store clerks who are used to this trick and are willing to play along when your child “trades in” the pacifier for a new toy of her choosing. We have spoken with other parents that have thrown a “Goodbye Binky” party, set out the pacifier for the Binky Fairy or donated the Binky to children who need it.  Pretty creative!


Positive approach and focus on praising your child when thumb sucking or weening off your child's binky (pacifier) is key to  breaking habits. At little smiles we can assist in encouraging children to stop a sucking habit and discuss each child's particular situation.  We can explain the effects on teeth to your child in an appropriate manner during your regular check-ups. This, along with support from parents and caregivers, helps many children quit their thumb-sucking or pacifier habits.

If you have any questions please feel free to call us or request an appointment online.

Benefits of Early Orthodontics Intervention in children

June 21st, 2019

Timing is everything-even when it comes to your child's orthodontic treatment. Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin your child's early intervention treatment.  At little smiles our goal is to provide both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment to benefit your child.


Your Child's First Orthodontist visit: When should your child visit an Orthodontist?

Orthodontics can play a huge role in young children’s appearance and health. In fact, the American Association of orthodontics recommends that an orthodontist examine a child’s teeth by the time they are 7 years old, even while baby teeth are still in the mouth. At Little Smiles we can help identify bite issues at an early age and will refer your child to our orthodontist at the appropriate time. While your child’s teeth may look straight, there may be underlying problems with the way adult teeth erupt, a misaligned bite, the relationship of the upper and lower jaw, tooth crowding, or problems due to thumb sucking and other habits.

At Little Smiles our orthodontist can pinpoint these and start correcting them to avoid potential problems for future adult teeth and by age 7, enough permanent teeth have emerged for your orthodontist to evaluate relationships developing between teeth, jaw and bite and make sure all will continue to develop as they should.


Phase-one of early orthodontic treatment: interceptive Orthodontics

Many children require the guidance of dental and facial development as a first phase of orthodontic treatment. Interceptive orthodontics also known as early treatment, preventative or phase one treatment, typically begins around age 7, while your child still has most of their primary or baby teeth. This interceptive orthodontic treatment helps prevent severe problems later on, and gives an orthodontist control over where the permanent teeth come in by addressing the structure of the jaw and teeth while baby teeth are still in the mouth.

By age 7, your child’s mouth has grown and has enough sound structure to know how it will develop as the permanent teeth start to emerge. Our pediatric dentist and orthodontics goal is to treat certain bites issues at an early age, while your child is still growing. If certain problems are treated at this earlier stage, our orthodontist can reduce the possibility of needing more severe treatment options in the future. This is all commonly known as phase-one or interceptive orthodontics.


Benefits to early intervention: phase-one

  • Determine a better prognosis for how the permanent teeth will develop
  • Correct habits such as thumb sucking or tongue pushing
  • Correct bite problems, open bite, cross bite or deep bite
  • Guide the growth of the jaw to accommodate emerging teeth
  • Lower the risk of damage to any protruding teeth
  • Create a more pleasing and functional arrangement of teeth, lips and face
  • Alleviate future and possibly more invasive, dental correction
  • Improve your child’s appearance and self-esteem

First phase treatment is initiated to prevent a problem from developing, intercept any developing problems and to guide the growth of the jaw bones that support the teeth known as growth modification.  Without phase-one treatment our orthodontist has determined that your child's problem, if left alone, will create an unhealthy environment for the growth development of your child's teeth, gums, jaws, and face.

Your child's treatment will be timed to predictable stages of dental development to provide the greatest potential for improvement and correction of your child's bite. We believe that most patients will require a second phase of treatment, often with traditional braces, to complete the tooth and jaw alignment that was started during the first phase treatment.


Introducing your child's second phase in orthodontic treatment

 Remembering phase-one as we previously mentioned, a first phase of treatment is done while the child has many or most of their primary or "baby" teeth. Phase-two typically takes place when your child has most of all their permanent teeth. This phase in orthodontic treatment and a child's growth are meant to complement each other. Phase-two treatment moves permanent teeth into their final position, correct minor bite issues, and continue to increase your child's self-esteem.

Our goals of phase-two treatment is to establish a proper relationship of teeth and jaws, so that they work correctly, correct alignment of the teeth for a beautiful smile, and position the teeth and jaws for an attractive face and profile. By timing treatment to stages of dental development, our orthodontics can take advantage of your child's oral growth and development. Problems that can be treated in a growing child in time may alleviate more drastic and invasive procedures needed later.

We understand orthodontic treatment is not for everyone. Each patient has a unique problem that requires a unique treatment plan. What is right for one child may not be right for another.


Simple ways that your child may require early orthodontics treatment

  • Open bite
  • Deep bites
  • Cross bites
  • Overjets
  • Crowding
  • Spacing
  • Teeth that don't emerge in the right sequence
  • Missing teeth
  • Thumb, finger, or pacifier, sucking that is affecting the teeth or jaw growth
  • Ankylosed teeth: a condition where the tooth stops erupting and stays in the same place, causing the permanent tooth to be displaced upon emergence.

Whether or not our orthodontist determines that your child needs braces, you will get the peace of mind that early detection and potential treatment will result in a lifelong smile for your child!



Early orthodontics intervention can benefits your child during growing and developing of the teeth and bones. Your child may not need orthodontic treatment immediately, yet a consultation from our Little Smiles team can inform you how an we can help your child, if future treatment is necessary. By been inform, about the specifics need of your child, you will have peace of mind knowing  the steps to follow to maintain a lifelong smiles for your child! Feel free to call and speak directly to us to schedule your free consultation!

Benefits to Waterlase in Dentistry

June 5th, 2019

Waterlase Dentistry is an advanced form of dental treatment that carries a number of important benefits for our patients. Waterlase is the use of laser energy, combined with a spray of water, a process called Hydro Photonics, to perform a wide range of dental procedures more comfortably for your child. With many procedures, it’s possible to use very little or no anesthetic at all.


Why choose Waterlase Dentistry? less pain, faster recovery

As pediatric dentist, providing primary and comprehensive dental treatment for infants, children, teens and special care patients is of utmost importance. With antsy, impatient young patients in the chair Waterlase dentistry will equip with the ability to deliver comfortable, quick, minimally invasive dentistry.



Tongue-Tie Corrected with Simple Laser Procedure

In recent times, there has been increased interest about the topic of tongue tie and breastfeeding. With so much talk and conflicting information about it, it’s no wonder many mothers feel overwhelmed and confused about how tongue tie may relate to any breastfeeding issues she may be experiencing. With more information, you can work out what it may mean for your breastfeeding relationship with your baby. Little Smiles is here to help you understanding the meaning of Tongue-Tie and what is to have a simple laser procedure.

Ankyloglossia (Tongue-tie) refers to a congenitally short lingual frenulum (the little piece of tissue connecting the tongue to the floor of your mouth). Tongue-tie is a thickened, tightened, or shortened frenum which limits movement of the tongue. In infants, this restriction of movement is a concern, because it can impede nursing or bottle feeding. This condition decreases the mobility of the tongue and can seriously impact a baby's ability to breast feed and may cause speech issue later in life.

In severe situations, where it is impacting the child's ability to eat, treatment with a frenectomy is necessary to allow for proper nutrition through breast-feeding. With a simple laser procedure the problem can be solved quickly and comfortably for the baby (and the parents!)

Signs that a baby's tongue-tie is causing problems with breastfeeding

  • Painful breast-feeding with nipple pain and possible damage
  • Nipples that look flat after breast-feeding
  • Baby loses suction while feeding and sucks in air
  • Baby makes clicking sound when feeding
  • Failure to thrive and gain weight even with normal amount of feeding
  • Baby cannot poke his tongue out beyond his gum or lips
  • Baby's tongue cannot move sideways
  • Heart-shaped or notched tip of the tongue
  • Recurrent blocked ducts or mastitis (inflammation of the breast)


Soft Tissue Surgery Made Simple

The differences between a laser and a scalpel when used for oral surgical procedures is stark(abrupt). While scalpels have a long list of physiological and psychological effects on the patient, Waterlase laser dentistry enables you to quickly cut, sculpt or modify soft tissue when needed.

During many procedures, managing the soft tissue can be problematic if it begins to bleed or respond unpredictably. With Waterlase dentistry lasers, achieving hemostasis and controlling the surgical zone are as easy as tapping a pre-set on the laser’s touch screen. Most importantly, laser soft tissue surgery minimizes pain, discomfort, and anxiety.

For children, a visit to the dentist can be an overwhelming experience. At Little Smiles, we want your child to feel relaxed and comfortable from beginning to end, and laser soft tissue surgery is another procedure we offer to ensure that your child goes through a speedy recovery with minimal pain.


Check out below, our laser assisted soft tissue surgery

Is Waterlase Safe?

Waterlase is cleared for numerous dental applications that can be performed on both pediatric and adult patients. One of the Waterlase’s greatest strengths is how precise it is!


If you’re interested in WaterLase laser dentistry for you child, Dr. Cruz or Dr. Bolivar will examine your child and come up with an accurate diagnosis. If WaterLase is the best treatment option, we will walk you through everything you need to know to help you make a confident decision about your child’s smile. For more questions you can call and speak directly to us!


Minimize dental treatment on your child with preventive care

May 30th, 2019

On average, students miss more than 51 million school hours each year because of dental problems or related conditions. Most of this lost time can be prevented by good oral hygiene and prevention. When brushing, flossing regularly and visiting their Pediatric Dentist every six months for a check-up, you are giving your child an upper hand in maintaining good oral health. This routine should be started early in life. Sometimes this is not enough and some dental treatments are needed. Even on baby teeth.

Baby teeth: the building block of a healthy beautiful smile

Sometimes, dental care is postponed after permanent teeth start coming in. This decision of waiting could be made by parents for many reasons. Financial should not be one. It has been known for children who had their first dental appointment after the age of four to have a higher cost for dental treatments, while children who had their first appointment before age four have a lower cost of dental treatments during eight years of follow-up.

Evidence increasingly suggests that to be successful in preventing caries, we must begin within the first years of life. If appropriate preventive measures are applied early—in infancy—it may be possible to raise a cavity-free child.

Preventive dental care facts to maintain a healthy smile

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day

  • Floss your teeth at least once a day

  • Maintain a low Sugary or Starchy food or Drinks intake

  • Visit the dentist every 6 months for your children's cleanings and exams

  • Have dental X-rays taken

  • Use FLUORIDATED toothpaste

  • Get sealant treatments (as needed)


Baby teeth play such an important role in child development.

Sealants: how it can help prevent tooth decay on your child

Dental Sealant is a protective barrier placed on children's teeth intended to prevent tooth decay by "sealant out" plaque and food. While brushing and flossing are critical components of any dental health regimen, sealants provide additional protection for the grooved areas of the teeth. These areas are the most common place for a cavity to start. This is known as pit and fissure decay.

Dental or tooth sealants are a thin coat of resin that is applied on the surface of the teeth to prevent tooth decay.  These sealants are generally applied on the surface of the molars or the back teeth.  The coating is a uniform coating that covers small grooves and pits. This prevents the food particles from getting trapped in these pits and prevents tooth decay.

Sealants are more common on permanent teeth but they can be done on baby teeth.  Baby teeth also have a number of grooves and pits that sometimes are necessary to be sealed to prevent tooth decay. Baby teeth play such an important role in child development. Also they help in holding the correct spacing for permanent teeth, it's important to keep these teeth healthy so they are not lost too early and result in problems with the growth of permanent teeth.

The simple process of dental sealants give your child a mighty smile

Application of sealant is a simple and painless process. It requires the teeth to be cleaned and dried. This is done by isolating the area from moisture, once the teeth are dried, a solution is applied to prepare the teeth to accept the resin. This solution rather makes the surface of the teeth a bit rough. This process is called tooth preparation. Rough surfaces provide an easy adhesive surface to the teeth for application of the resin. When the surface is ready, the sealant is place over the surface of the teeth. The resin hardens in a few seconds with a curing light. Now the sealant is in place on the top part of the tooth.

With sealant, the tooth is protected on the masticatory surface. Other areas of the teeth could still get decay. Brushing is still important after sealant placement! When cavities start in other areas, the only way to find them is with dental x-rays.


Dental x-rays: see the cavity before is too late

Parents will often ask why x-rays are recommend for their child even when he/she have a healthy and beautiful smile. There are many parts of a tooth and its supporting structures that are hidden by either close contacts or tissues. It is important, especially at a child’s initial dental visit, to utilize all available tools in order to gain an accurate picture of a child’s oral health.

Most x-rays are prescribed to identify or rule out the tricky cavities that can develop between the teeth and are not visible in the mouth. Other X-rays are recommended to ensure normal growth and development of forming teeth and supporting bone structures.

It is important to remember that once a baseline is established, parents should work with their pediatric dentist to determine which type and how often subsequent x-rays will need to be taken.  At Little Smiles we use factors such as spacing, age, caries risk assessment, diet, oral hygiene and development concerns in order to make that decision.

Our ultimate goal is to be able to identify cavities when they are small or recognize developmental issues early before they cause extensive damage, create extra work, or have a damaging effect on a child’s oral health.

When areas of concern are found in the x-rays, we can focus on preventing these areas from developing tooth decay. If it is too late to prevent it from becoming a decay, some type of restorative or treatment is needed.

How restorative dentistry can help your child

Restorative dentistry is the treatment of dental decay of the teeth in order to restore or bring back to their best health. Restorative dentistry also includes the repair or replacement of damaged or defective teeth.  Some of these treatments include:

  • White fillings in a tooth or teeth
  • Silver stainless steel or White (Zirconia) crown
  • Pulpotomy, or treatment of the nerve
  • Extractions (removing teeth)
  • Space Maintainers

When are fillings required

A filling is used to fill in an area where a tooth decay (cavity) has been removed.  Cavities that require a filling are usually not cavities with deep decay.  The decayed tooth has to be removed or cleaned out with special dental instruments.  Once the decay is removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned, white filling called "composite" can be used to fill the area and restore the normal anatomy of the tooth.

When are Silver stainless steel or White (Zirconia) crowns needed?

When primary molars (baby teeth) that are not formed properly, have a lot of decay or fractures (cracks), or have undergone a nerve treatment, it may require a  crown in order to cover the remaining tooth. Crowns are also used when a very wide or deep cavity has done so much damage to the tooth that it needs to be protected in order to save it.

Pulpotomy and what happens if not treated promptly

A pulpotomy, or nerve treatment is done when there is a large amount of decay (such as deep cavity), when there is pain in a tooth, or when the decay is very close to touching the pulp, or nerve, of the tooth. This prevents the tooth from developing an infection. If a tooth with a deep decay is not treated properly and promptly, your child could develop a serious infection or lose the tooth.

Extractions and when they are needed

A child might need an extraction (pulling a tooth) for several reasons.  An extraction might be needed if your child has a severe infection or a very large cavity. Extractions may also be done if your child has spacing problems, such as crowding, or if space needs to be made for orthodontic care. If a tooth is lost early, the space will have to be preserved to allow the permanent tooth eruption.

Helping your child's permanent teeth eruption with space maintainers

When a baby tooth is lost early, of if a tooth never appears, a space maintainer is used to "save" a place for the permanent tooth (adult tooth).  If the space is not maintained, the teeth on either side of the missing tooth can move and prevent the permanent tooth form from ever erupting (coming in).  Also, without a space maintainer, teeth crowding can occur and be very difficult to treat.  A space maintainer is made of stainless steel and is a passive appliance. Most of them do not require adjustments. Spacers are temporary and will be removed once a new tooth or teeth erupt, or the teeth around it become loose.


Visiting the dentist regularly can help prevent cavities and reinforce good dental hygiene practices. At Little Smiles, we can guide your children to maintain an overall well-being with your preventive care. Some children have higher risk of decay and 100% cavity free is not possible. At Little Smiles, we are here to help you, and give your child the best oral health possible. If you need more information you can call to speak directly to us. We can help you give your child the beautiful smile they deserve.

Know how Dental Insurance benefits you and your family.

May 22nd, 2019

Getting great dental health is essential to your overall well-being. There are multiple things that you and your family can do to stay in optimal condition. Dental Insurance can be part of your overall strategy to give your family the best oral health possible.  Dental insurance helps you by paying a portion of the costs associated with dental care.  Unlike medical coverage, dental coverage focuses on PREVENTION.

The preventive dental care check list for your family

All the things you do to maintain your teeth and gums fall under preventative dental care. This includes:

  • Brushing daily
  • Flossing daily
  • Replacing your toothbrush at least every 3 month
  • Avoiding foods that cause tooth decay
  • Seeing a dentist regularly

If you take each one of these steps seriously, you can avoid many of the most common and consequential issues that hurt your teeth. Taking just a few minutes each day to practice preventative dental care can help ensure that your smile is healthy throughout your lifetime. It is especially important for children to practice preventative dental care while their adult teeth are still forming.

Dental insurance can complement your home dental care. It can give you the ability to visit the dentist on a regular basis. Regular dentist visits are focused on preventive care and dental insurance can provide good coverage for these services.


Maximize your dental insurance preventative coverage

Most dental plans cover 100% of your preventative care. Most preventive dental services (cleanings, and x-rays) are part of the oral health care professional recommendations. They follow a schedule based on patient needs.   Most preventive visit would be every 6 months, twice per calendar year, or twice in a 12 month period.  This preventative coverage would consist of cleanings, x-rays, fluoride, and sealants (This is all based on the type of coverage you may have).

Preventative care is important because it helps you stay healthy and access prompt treatment when necessary, and it can also help reduce your overall medical expenses, stay healthier and get more effective treatment .

Knowing your policy will help you understand how it works and what your coverage is. At Littles Smiles, we can help you clarify the specifics of you coverage. All dental insurances are different so it is good to call, ask questions, and do your research.  This will be beneficial to you when you call to schedule an appointment.

Dental insurance cover more than preventive care, they also have coverages for other treatments and procedures. The coverage for these services are categorized on Basic and Major coverage.

What is Basic Coverage?

Basic procedures are restorative treatment.  This would be for treatment like extractions, fillings or crowns (depending on your provider).   Although crowns, can be considered a basic coverage, depending on some insurances they are also considered to be major coverage.  This all based on the type of insurance you may have.

Dental insurances companies rarely cover 100% for restorative coverage (filling).  This will mean you will most likely have a deductible to meet and a co-insurance payment. The deductible and co-insurance payment depends on your insurance provider and they are pre-setup fees when the dental provider is in-network with your insurance.

 In-Network provider benefits

The benefits you will receive on the in-network provider are based on the terms of the contract your employer negotiated with the dental insurance company and not the dental office.  Most importantly going in network gets you a discounted rate and the best coverage you can receive. In some occasions, out of network  coverage could be similar to the in-network coverage.


Going Out of Network in the office you prefer

Most plans include out of network benefits.  Most policies provide you with an out-of-network amount per service (policy vary).  This means you have an allowed amount for your out of network service that your Insurance provides you with.  Your dental provider also has it's own fee, that may not cover the full amount, yet half of the time, the fees are the same for most of the preventive and basic procedures (this all varies on your policy and dental office you prefer).

This allows you and your family to see any dentist, in network or not, and sometimes receive the same benefits from your dental insurance.

Guide on selecting Dental Insurance to benefit your family

Ways to determine whether the coverage will satisfy your Dental care needs:

  • What are does your plan cover and what does it exclude?
  • How many times can you visit the dentist a year?
  • What does your plan cover, preventative (cleanings), basic coverage (tooth filling), x-rays, and emergency visits?
  • What is my basic coverage, also known as restorative coverage?
  • What type of coverage will you have, when you need a major coverage (ex: crown)?
  • Does it have Orthodontic treatment?
  • What is the deductible?
  • Is there a waiting period (Ex: how long until insurance will cover certain services?)


Insurance dental coverage helps you and your  family have access to preventive care, professional dental care and helps you maintain  good oral health, and overall well-being.  It is important you understand, what your insurance has to offer to help maximize your insurance benefits.

At Little Smiles, we are happy to help. If you have any questions about your dental insurance, please feel free to call us.


Fluoride: The guide you need to give your child the best cavity fighter.

May 15th, 2019

The use of the right fluoride regiment can keep your child cavity free. Fluoride has a bad reputation on the internet, but Fluoride could be the difference maker on your quest to give your child a healthy smile. In order to have the benefits without the disadvantage, make sure you have the guide of a health care provider. The amount that a child should use is based primary on age and few other factors.  But it is clear how it can be the best cavity Fighter!

How can fluoride help keep your child teeth cavity free?

Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral. It helps prevent cavities, repair early damage to teeth, and reverse early tooth decay, by making the outer surface of your teeth (enamel) more resistant to the acid attacks that cause tooth decay.  Fluoride can strengthens your child’s teeth and reverse early signs of tooth decay.

Our mouths contain bacteria that, in combination with sugars in the foods and beverages we consume every day, produces acid. The acid they produce harms the tooth enamel and damages the teeth.  This is where the fluoride comes in handy.  Fluoride protects the teeth by making them RESISTANT to acid.

After teeth erupt, fluoride helps rebuild (mineralize) weakened tooth enamel and reverse early signs of tooth decay.

When your child brush his/her teeth with fluoride toothpaste, or use other fluoride dental products, the fluoride is applied to the surface of your teeth. When the fluoride is available on the teeth, it’s get incorporated as part of the enamel. This new form of enamel, with fluoride on it, is more resistant to acid attack by the bacteria.

Fluoride is available in many different ways and concentrations. This help provide the best fluoride treatment for every individual child.

Fluoride supplementation has great benefits for your child when the use match his/her needs. 

Fluoride treatment has been a study for a long time and the benefits are well documented. Nowadays, fluoride is  available in a great variety of ways. With so many products in the market for fluoride supplementation, it is hard to make a decision on which product to use or even if it is necessary. For parents, the decision could be complicated because of the child’s age. Every child is different, so the need of fluoride supplementation is based on each child caries risk. A professional dental health provider can help and guide parents on this choice. With a comprehensive oral evaluation, a dentist can perform a Caries Risk Assessment  for a child and determine if fluoride supplementation is necessary.

Caries Risk Assessment Factor

  • Fluoride exposure
  • Sugary or Starchy food or Drinks
  • Family history of caries
  • Early dental visits
  • Special Health needs
  • Patient history of caries
  • Teeth missing due to caries
  • Visible plaque Orthodontic Appliances
  • Salivary flow.

Getting a professional opinion on need and use of fluoride, will prevent some of the disadvantages. When Fluoride is used in excess, it can cause white line on the developing teeth. These spots are call fluorosis. This is more common in children that have swallow tooth paste with fluoride. Because this occurs during teeth development , we have to be vigilant until the child is 4 years old. By 4 years old the children learn to spit the tooth paste better and reduce the amount of swallowing. Also, the teeth on the front have had complete development and the risk of fluorosis decrease.

Guide on fluoride used for your growing child.

The most commonly available fluoride supplement is tooth paste with fluoride. It is effective and can help reduce the risk of caries for up to 30% in children. Some toothpaste for children have less concentration of fluoride and are market for 2 years and older. At Little Smiles, we recommend toothpaste with fluoride later than 3 years old because of the risk of fluorosis on the permanent dentition.  This is recommended for low risk patients and it is customized by the specific child needs.

Other common fluoride supplementation is  mouth rinsing . Rinses that contain fluoride are recommended for children 6 years or older. It is a  great source of fluoride for a child with moderate to high risk of caries. A Rinse can help prevent caries for up to 31%.

Older children with high caries risk can benefit from prescription strength toothpaste. This is recommended for children 12 and older.

A common fluoride supplement that is effective in reducing the risk of decay, is the fluoride treatment at the dental office. The treatment  that most people recognize is the gel on a tray. This is a good source of fluoride every 6 months. Today, the most effective fluoride treatment at a dental office is the Fluoride Varnish. It stays on the teeth longer then the gel with less risk of swallowing.


Fluoride Varnish


Fluoride fact that can benefit the entire family

Regular fluoride applications can help eliminate sensitivity.
Sometimes Brushing and flossing is not enough, so fluoride could be the missing ingredient.
Because of harder to clean areas during orthodontic treatment, fluoride can help strengthen your teeth and prevent decay.
Fluoride occurs naturally in water, though usually not at a high enough level to protect teeth.
Fluoride has been recognized as an important nutrient for healthy teeth.
Fluoridation is the most cost-effective way to prevent tooth decay and build healthy communities.


Fluoride has become part of our daily oral hygiene routine and easily available. We have to make an informed decision about the fluoride supplementation on children. We can get amazing caries risk reduction with appropriate use. This is best achieved with a dental professional evaluation for your child. At Little Smiles, we can help you navigate the fluoride needs of your child.



Why you should never wait too long to start with your child dental visits.

May 8th, 2019

When a child gets used to seeing the dentist regularly, visiting becomes easy and fun. The experience develops into a routine that lasts over a life time. You can give your child the gift of a good dental habit for their first birthday.

First Dentist visit by the first Birthday, a life time of benefits.

Sometimes a new born baby needs to see a dentist for a specific reason, like neonatal teeth, lactation problem related to tongue tie or tissue lessons. But if everything is ok and there are no concerns, your children should see a dentist by their first birthday. First, we can make sure that their dental/facial growth is going well. You can learn good oral hygiene techniques and nutritional advice that can help maintain an optimal oral health. At the same time your child will learn benefits that will last a lifetime from an early age.

In the beginning it can be a bit scary, but after the first couple of visits, just for a checkup, your child will learn to trust the dentist, the staff, and most importantly, trust the whole experience. With an early check up, small problems can be addressed before they become a bigger issue. That is what most people are afraid of.

We want this check up to take place before any major dental work is needed. We want your child to get used to the dental environment, so it is not a big deal to visit again and have dental treatment done. If a dental emergency ever happens, the dentist is well known by now, so seeing the dentist does not stress your child . The actual dental appointment becomes fun, even if it is more than just a check up.

How dental treatments could be fun for your children.

Technology and advancements in dental health has helped pediatric dental care to be a more pleasant experience for children. In a Pediatric Dental practice, the dentists main focus is to give your children a great experience. Having all the necessary tools for the visit to go smoothly is a big part of it.

Things that help at a Pediatric Dental setting:

  • Dentist that specializes in pediatric care
  • Staff trained in pediatric care
  • TV on ceiling while they get treatment
  • Video games for entertainment
  • Inviting environment
  • Quick appointments
  • Easy fluoride treatment
  • Almost painless local anesthesia
  • Laser surgeries
  • Better and quicker materials to work with

When all of this is combined in one setting, the experience becomes fun. This type of exposure to an easier dental care provides an opportunity that the whole family can benefit from.

Your children's early dental appointment can make a difference in the whole family.

Nowadays pediatric dental offices are welcoming and most enjoy having the family around while the child is being seen. This help smaller siblings learn and get more comfortable with a dental environment . This healthy new experience helps the whole family develop dental habits that will follow them for the rest of their life.

Benefits to the family:

  • Habit of brushing and flossing
  • More comfortable on dental setup
  • Built a routine of 6 months follow up.
  • Help parents erase bad memories from childhood

Because of previous experiences and bad childhood memories, some adults have apprehensive behaviors when it comes to the dentist. Some of these anxieties are transferred to the child without it being noticed. But we can change this for your family for generations to come, with an early visit to the dentist.


Most children should have a dental exam by their first birthday. This will give your child and family a more trustable approach to the dental experience. Make this happen for your family. Make your child’s first appointment today.

Welcome to Our Blog

May 6th, 2019

Thank you for taking the time to visit our blog. Please check back often for weekly updates on fun and exciting events happening at our office, important and interesting information about orthodontics and the dental industry, and the latest news about our practice.

Feel free to leave a comment or question for our doctors and staff - we hope this will be a valuable resource for our patients, their families, and friends!