Pediatric Dentistry FAQ's
My child's teeth have stains on them; are these cavities?
When a baby tooth changes color, it can mean many things. Baby teeth can and do normally change in color, particularly close to the time that they become loose; however, this change is minimal and should not be confused with a carious lesion (cavity).
The best way to determine if your child has a stain or a true cavity is to take him or her to a pediatric dentist.
Caries is an infectious disease; it progresses if left untreated, and usually is associated with pain (especially when the cavities are large). Teeth with cavities typically assume a darker (brown) discoloration; and depending on the extent, may exhibit loss of tooth structure.
Teeth that have been previously "bumped" may also change in color. Traumatized baby teeth can assume a yellow or a dark discoloration, which may or may not be associated with pain.
Other less common causes of changes in color may be: fluorosis, food staining (particularly tea or colas), systemic disease (hepatitis), etc.
My child has crooked teeth; will they need braces?
Crooked or crowded teeth are very common in the growing patient. Even patients that get braces may develop a minor degree of crooked (crowded) teeth, particularly in the front teeth of the jaws, as they grow old.
The first step in determining the need for treatment is what we call an orthodontic consult. During this appointment, we may obtain special records and special x-rays of your child's jaw. This information will allow us to make a decision based on predicted growth patterns that your child may show later. In orthodontic terms, we refer to this as Early Treatment.
Early Treatment refers to ANY orthodontic (braces) or orthopedic appliances (like Headgear) treatment that begins when the child is in primary dentition or in early mixed dentition (when the first permanent teeth begin to erupt).
Early Treatment has been proven to be effective despite objections by some people in the orthodontic community.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recognizes that early diagnosis and successful treatment of developing malocclusions can have both short-term and long-term benefits, while achieving the goal of occlusal harmony, function, and facial aesthetics.
My child is getting shark teeth; what can I do?
One of our most common consults occurs when children around the age of seven begin to lose their lower front teeth. Many of our parents become overly worried about this phenomenon. It is VERY NORMAL for permanent lower incisors (front teeth) to erupt behind their predecessors (baby teeth); however, if a baby tooth is not loose by the time half of the permanent incisor has erupted, it may be necessary to pull it.
Can you do all the work at once with a sedation?
In cases with extensive decay, we are limited by the maximum dosage of local anesthetic that we can use. As a rule, we also consider your child's comfort after he/she leaves the clinic in order to determine how much local anesthetic we can use.
Very young children are at high risk of biting their lips or chewing on the inside part of their cheeks after they receive local anesthetic (a lidocaine shot). This usually happens because of their natural curiosity; they try to feel the area or areas that are numb.
For these and other reasons, it is unlikely that we could work on all of your child's teeth at once. An exception to this rule would be a child that is taken to the operating room.
What is general anesthesia and how safe is it?
The use of general anesthesia for dental work in children is sometimes necessary in order to provide safe, efficient, and predictable care.
The general anesthetic is given to your child by a specialist (anesthesiologist) and ONLY after the child has been thoroughly screened by a physician.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recognizes the need for general anesthesia in certain situations where challenges relating to the child's age, behavior, medical conditions, developmental disabilities, intellectual limitations, or special treatment needs may warrant it.
Pediatric dentists are, by virtue of training and experience, qualified to recognize the indications for such an approach and to render such care. Your pediatric dentist and his staff will discuss all the necessary steps that must be taken in order to promptly and safely complete your child's dental treatment after this treatment option has been chosen.
Like any procedure in which a child's conscious state is altered, there are some risks involved. The main risks (serious complications) associated with an oral sedation include, but are not limited to: Allergic reaction, respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest, and death.
Statistically, the chances of a serious complication are similar to those of being involved in a life-threatening motor vehicle accident.
Please make sure you fully understand as a parent or legal guardian all the risks involved with this procedure. Also review the instructions that you must follow the day before the procedure.
Will you need to give my child a shot to do the dental work?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions that we get from our patient's parents. We try to minimize the discomfort of the injection by placing a gel that works as a local anesthetic to numb the tissue were the injection will be administered.
Profound local anesthesia is usually obtained five to ten minutes after the injection, depending on the area of the mouth where the anesthetic was placed. We always check to confirm that the area is numb before we begin to work. In cases of localized infection or trauma (like broken teeth), it is very difficult to obtain profound anesthesia. However, we do have other means of supplementing the anesthetic (like conjoined use of nitrous-oxide gas, medications, or conscious sedation).
Younger children, particularly pre-schoolers, may interpret the feeling of numbness as pain, and therefore cry. Please follow the post-operative instructions that we give you, in order to minimize complications such as lip biting.