The pediatric dental specialist is concerned with maintaining and improving the dental health of infants, children and adolescents, as well as those patients who have special needs. Early detection of problems as well as a comprehensive prevention program can help your child maintain a healthy smile for a lifetime and help prevent the need for extensive, costly dental treatment. Dr. Mary George, and Dr. Gina Sajnani, our pediatric dentists, are committed to providing for your child's oral health and work closely with other health providers in the community to help ensure your child's total health.
When should my child first see a dentist?
As some dental problems can begin early it would seem that the earlier the dental visit, the better the chance at preventing these dental problems. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child should visit a pediatric dentist by their first birthday.
Infant Dental Care
After your child is born, clean his or her gums with a clean damp cloth. Later when their teeth erupt, brush your child's teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush using non-fluoride toothpaste. Don't nurse your child to sleep or put your baby to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice, or other sweetened liquid. As nursing or baby bottle tooth decay is a big concern for infants, it is better to put your child to bed without the bottle.
If your infant cannot fall asleep without the bottle, it is better to put the child to sleep with only water in the bottle. Infants should be weaned from the bottle or nursing, if possible, at one year of age. Your pediatrician or pediatric dentist can make fluoride supplement recommendations if fluoride does not exist in your water supply or if you use solely bottled water.
Child Dental Care
Preventive dentistry for children is concerned with brushing, flossing, fluorides, dental development, oral habits, parental involvement, proper diet, orthodontics, sealants, and sports safety. Parental involvement is an integral part of your child's home care prevention program, as young children do not have the manual dexterity to brush and floss their own teeth. Fluoride recommendations are continued and altered, as your child gets older. It is important that parents ensure that the child takes fluoride supplements, if prescribed, as they provide protection for and strengthen the enamel of your child's developing permanent teeth.
The pediatric dentist will monitor your child's dental development. At about age four, your child will probably have their first dental X-rays, which are taken to check for cavities that can start between your child's teeth. If your child does require treatment, our pediatric dentists have special training in helping your child feel comfortable during dental treatment. Nitrous Oxide-Oxygen (laughing gas) is a safe, effective technique to calm a child's anxiety about dental treatment and may be recommended.
At about age six or seven, children usually have their first panoramic X-ray taken. A panoramic X-ray is a special picture of your child's teeth, which reveals the entire mouth. This X-ray gives the pediatric dentist vital information on developing teeth that have not erupted yet as well as the roots of their baby teeth. Pediatric dentists are specialists in monitoring the growth and development of your child's teeth and jaws. With their special training, our dentists provide early detection and intervention that may reduce the need for more costly, extensive orthodontic treatment in the future. At Distinctive Dental Services of New York, digital radiography is used for most patients, which means 90% less radiation than conventional X-rays.
Oral habits, such as thumb-sucking, finger-sucking, or pacifiers are also addressed. Our pediatric dentists will suggest ways to address prolonged habits, which can create crowded, crooked teeth or bite problems. Early orthodontic recommendations may be made if your child has bite problems or crowding of their teeth.
Dental sealants can be placed on your child's teeth. These can help protect your child from getting cavities on the chewing surfaces of their teeth. Sealants are usually placed on your child's permanent molars, but can be placed on any tooth with deep grooves. Avoidance of sticky, sugary foods prolongs the life of these sealants. Proper diet, in general, is important for the development of your child's teeth. By monitoring what your child eats, brushing and flossing you can help ensure your child's healthy smile.
As your child grows, he or she may become actively involved in organized sports. As a safety precaution a sports mouthguard can be made for your child to protect their teeth against trauma.
Adolescent Dental Care
Not only are teens concerned with the possibility of getting cavities, they are more concerned with the appearance of their teeth. Many older children and teenagers may have some form of braces on. Cleaning their teeth with braces is more difficult than cleaning teeth without braces. Since it is more difficult, children and teens with braces must adhere to proper brushing and flossing techniques. Special instructions and tools can be given to our orthodontic patients to aid them in maintaining a proper home care regimen.
At times, we recommend that our orthodontic patients be put on a three-month in-office, professional cleaning schedule to complement their at-home dental care program.
Dental Care for the Special Needs Child
Children with special needs require special care. They may be more susceptible to tooth decay, gum disease or oral trauma. They may also require medication or a diet that is detrimental to their dental health. Pediatric dentists have two or more years of advanced training and their education focuses on care for children with special needs. Please click Special Needs for more information on care for patient with special needs.
How to Prepare Your Child for His or Her First Visit
Children are naturally curious and may ask you a lot of questions about what to expect at their dental visit. It is important to ensure that each visit to the dentist is nothing to fear... even if you have your own fears about visiting the dentist. Explain to them that the doctor is going to count their teeth and clean them with a special "ticklebrush". They may even need to have "special pictures" taken so the dentist can see inside their teeth.
It is important not to use any negative words. Even saying, "Don't worry, it won't hurt" may give them a negative image. Try to keep the information positive. Explain to them that you will be in the room with them while they have their teeth cleaned. If they know that you are relaxed and positive about this experience it will help them to feel relaxed and positive too. Our doctors or staff members will answer any question at your first visit that you are unsure of how to answer.
Trauma and Your Child's Primary & Permanent Teeth
Every precaution should be taken to prevent an accident before it happens by following safety rules and wearing a sports mouthguard, if necessary. Child-proof your home to prevent falls, electrical injuries and choking on small objects.
However, if your child needs urgent dental treatment, our pediatric dental specialists are available to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What should I do if my child's baby tooth is knocked out?
Contact your pediatric dentist as soon as possible.
What should I do if my child's permanent tooth is knocked out?
Find the tooth and rinse it gently in cool water. Do not scrub or wash it with soap or other cleaner. If possible, replace the tooth in the socket and hold it there with clean gauze or a washcloth. If this is not possible, place the tooth in a clean container with milk. Go to your pediatric dental office immediately. If it is after hours, contact the emergency service number. The faster you act, the better the chances of saving the tooth.
What if a tooth is chipped or fractured?
Contact your pediatric dental office immediately. It is possible to save the tooth if you respond quickly. If you can find the broken tooth fragment, bring it with you to the dentist.