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FAQ-General Topics

Why your child should see a Pediatric Dentist?

Children are not just small adults when it comes to medical or dental needs. Pediatric dentists obtain advanced training in growth and development, child psychology, medical conditions, trauma and orthodontic treatment. Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years of specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are oral health care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.

How can parents help prevent tooth decay?

Parents should take their children to the dentist regularly, beginning with the appearance of the first tooth. Then, the dentist can recommend a specific program of brushing, flossing, and other treatments for parents to supervise and teach to their children. These home treatments when combined with smart dietary choices can create a lifetime of healthy habits. The use of sealants is often recommended to help prevent tooth decay. [Back to Top]

How do sealants work?

A sealant is a clear or shaded plastic material that is applied to the chewing surfaces (grooves) of the back teeth (premolars and molars), where eighty percent of cavities in children are found. This sealant acts as a barrier to food, plaque and acid, thus protecting the decay-prone areas of the teeth. By forming a thin covering over the pits and fissures, sealants keep out plaque and food, thus decreasing the risk of decay.  Since, the covering is only over the biting surface of the tooth, areas on the side and between teeth cannot be coated with the sealant.  Good oral hygiene and nutrition are still very important in preventing decay next to these sealants or in areas unable to be covered. [Back to Top]

What are smart, tooth-healthy diet choices?

We all know that candy is not good for the teeth, but we also encourage parents to limit the amount of sweet liquids that your child drinks including juices and sport drinks. Although milk is healthy, we want parents to be careful with how much time their children spend drinking milk. A glass with a meal is great, but going to bed or wandering around the house for long periods of time with a bottle or “sippy” cup is not healthy for your child’s teeth. Also, consider reducing the consumption of carbohydrates like crackers, cookies, chips and of course candy that can stick to your child’s teeth. We encourage eating fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese and drinking water for healthy, between meal snack foods. [Back to Top]

How safe are dental X-rays?

There is very little risk in dental X-rays. We are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. [Back to Top]

What is Pulp Therapy?

The pulp of a tooth is the inner central core of the tooth.  The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels, connective tissue and reparative cells.  The purpose of pulp therapy in Pediatric Dentistry is to maintain the vitality of the affected tooth (so the tooth is not lost). Dental caries (cavities) and traumatic injury are the main reasons for a tooth to require pulp therapy.  Pulp therapy is often referred to as a "nerve treatment", "children's root canal", "pulpectomy" or "pulpotomy".  The two common forms of pulp therapy in children's teeth are the pulpotomy and pulpectomy. 

 A pulpectomy is required when the entire pulp is involved (into the root canal(s) of the tooth).   During this treatment, the diseased pulp tissue is completely removed from both the crown and root.  The canals are cleansed, disinfected and in the case of primary teeth, filled with a resorbable material.  Then a final restoration is placed.  A permanent tooth would be filled with a non-resorbing material.

A pulpotomy removes the diseased pulp tissue within the crown portion of the tooth.  Next, an agent is placed to prevent bacterial growth and to calm the remaining nerve tissue.  This is followed by a final restoration (usually a crown with a natural tooth-like appearance). [Back to Top]

My child grinds their teeth when sleeping

Parents are often concerned about the nocturnal grinding of teeth (bruxism). Often, the first indication is the noise created by the child grinding on their teeth during sleep. The majority of cases of pediatric bruxism do not require any treatment. The good news is most children outgrow bruxism. The grinding gets less between the ages 6-9 and children tend to stop grinding between ages 9-12. If you suspect bruxism, discuss this with your pediatrician or pediatric dentist. [Back to Top]

What about mouth guards?

When a child begins to participate in recreational activities and organized sports, injuries can occur. A properly fitted mouth guard, or mouth protector, is an important piece of athletic gear that can help protect your child’s smile, and should be used during any activity that could result in a blow to the face or mouth. Mouth guards help prevent broken teeth, and injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw. A properly fitted mouth guard will stay in place while your child is wearing it, making it easy for them to talk and breathe. Ask your pediatric dentist about custom and store-bought mouth protectors. [Back to Top]

FAQ-Infant Topics

Why are baby teeth important for my child?

Primary or “baby” teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also assist in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt. It is also important to start introducing your child to good oral hygiene habits and regular dental check-ups when they are young to insure a long life with good oral health. [Back to Top]

When should I take my child to the dentist for the first time?

"First visit by first birthday" sums it up.  Your child should visit a pediatric dentist when the first tooth comes in. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends bringing your child within 6 months of the appearance of their first tooth, or no later than their first birthday. [Back to Top]

How can I prevent tooth decay from a bottle or nursing?

Children should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age.  Encourage your child to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday. Children should not fall asleep with a bottle containing anything but water. At-will nighttime breast-feeding should be avoided after the first primary (baby) teeth begin to erupt. Drinking juice from a bottle should be avoided. When juice is offered, it should be in a cup. Take your child to a pediatric dentist regularly to have his/her teeth and gums checked. The first dental visit should be scheduled by your child's first birthday. [Back to Top]

Are thumb sucking and pacifier habits harmful to a child’s teeth?

Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they continue for a very long period of time. Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers when the permanent teeth arrive, your pediatric dentist may be able to help. Advice from the dentist coupled with support from the parents will usually contribute to successful cessation of the habit. If these efforts are ineffective, however, your pediatric dentist may prescribe an in-the-mouth appliance that can restrict the habit for a certain amount of time. [Back to Top]

When should my child begin using toothpaste and how much should we use?

Fluoridated toothpaste should be introduced when a child is 2-3 years of age. Prior to that, parents should clean the child’s teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. When toothpaste is used after age 2-3, the child should be supervised to make sure the child uses no more than a small, pea-sized amount on the brush. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing. [Back to Top]

FAQ-Adolescent Dentistry Topics

My teenager wants a tongue piercing?

The American Dental Association recommends avoiding mouth jewelry altogether. The risk involved with oral piercings include:

  • chipped or cracked teeth 
  • blood clots
  • blood poisoning
  • heart infections
  • brain abscess
  • nerve disorders (trigeminal neuralgia)
  • receding gums
  • scar tissue

Common symptoms after piercing include pain, swelling, infection, an increased flow of saliva and injuries to gum tissue. Difficult-to-control bleeding or nerve damage can result if a blood vessel or nerve bundle is in the path of the needle. If your child experiences any of these symptoms,or if the discomfort persists for more than 72 hours, or if there are any questions please do not hesitate to contact the office. [Back to Top]

I think my teen is using tobacco

Tobacco in any form can jeopardize your child’s health and cause incurable damage. Smokeless tobacco is often used by teens who believe that it is a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. This is an unfortunate misconception. Studies show that smokeless tobacco placed between cheek and gum may be more addictive than smoking cigarettes and may be more difficult to quit. In as little as three to four months, smokeless tobacco use can cause periodontal disease and produce pre-cancerous lesions called leukoplakias. [Back to Top]

FAQ-Post Op Oral Care Topics

How to treat oral discomfort after a cleaning

It is rare for small children to need any significant teeth cleaning but adolescent children may if their daily oral hygiene is not adequate. A thorough cleaning unavoidably produces some bleeding and swelling and may cause some tenderness or discomfort.  This is not due to a "rough cleaning" but, to tender and inflamed gums from insufficient oral hygiene.  We recommend the following for 2-3 days after cleaning was performed: 

  • A warm salt water rinse 2 - 3 times per day  (1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water)
  • For discomfort use Children's Tylenol, Advil, or Motrin as directed on the bottle for the age of the child

Please do not hesitate to contact the office if the discomfort persists for more than 72 hours or if there are any questions. [Back to Top]

Questions after getting a local anesthetic

Children can be confused about the effects of local anesthesia. Monitor your child for two hours after the appointment to insure they do not cause minor irritations to the affected areas. It is recommended that your child be kept on a liquid diet until the effects have worn off. [Back to Top]

After extractions

Normal Care:

  • Do not rinse for several hours 
  • Do not spit excessively
  • No carbonated drinks for remainder of day
  • Do not drink through a straw for remainder of day
  • Keep all foreign objects out of mouth for remainder of day 

For Pain:

  • Some discomfort is normal
  • Follow directions on the bottle for age of child when using over-the-counter pain medications like Tylenol, Advil, or Motrin
  • If medicine was prescribed follow the instructions of the prescribing physician

For Bleeding:

  • Some bleeding is normal
  • Place sterile cotton gauze over extraction area and keep in place by biting down for 15 minutes or until bleeding subsides
  • A damp tea bag may be substituted for the cotton gauze if desired
  • Maintain a soft diet for at least the next day. 

Please do not hesitate to contact the office if the discomfort persists for more than 72 hours or if there are any questions. [Back to Top]


For more serious emergencies....
call your Physician or 911 if necessary 
or go to your nearest hospital emergency room

Tooth ache

Begin by cleaning around the sore tooth meticulously. Using warm salt water, rinse the mouth to displace any food trapped between teeth.

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you use aspirin on the aching tooth or on the gum.

In the event of facial swelling, apply a cold compress to the area. For temporary pain relief, acetaminophen is recommended. See a dentist as soon as possible. [Back to Top]

Bitten or Cut Lip, Tongue, or Cheek

Ice can be applied to any bruised areas. For bleeding, apply firm (but gentle) pressure with sterile gauze or a clean cloth. If the bleeding does not stop with pressure or continues after 15 minutes, go to an emergency room. [Back to Top]

Broken or knocked out tooth

Recover the tooth or tooth fragment, making sure to hold it by the crown (top) and not the root end. Rinse, but do not clean or handle the tooth more than necessary.

If able reinsert the tooth in the socket and hold it in place using a clean piece of gauze or cloth. If the tooth cannot be reinserted, or it is just a tooth fragment, carry it in a cup containing milk or water. Because time is essential, see a dentist immediately. [Back to Top]

Loss of baby tooth

Fold a piece of gauze and place it (tightly) over the bleeding area. Bite down on the gauze for 15 minutes; if bleeding continues, see a dentist.[Back to Top]