Q: How should I clean my baby’s teeth?

A: Start by wiping your child’s tooth as soon as it grows into the mouth using a soft cloth and a smear of fluoride tooth paste. Teeth should be wiped in the morning and before bed. Once the first baby molar erupts, introduce a toddler-sized toothbrush using a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste.

Q: Can I accompany my child into the treatment area for their dental visit?

A: Yes. For initial visits and for very young children and toddlers, we suggest parents accompany their children into the treatment areas. In the afternoon when older, school-aged children are often appointed, we request parents or guardians remain in the reception area to promote independence and self-confidence. As always, our goal is to provide a positive experience for your child and to make every attempt to ensure both parents and children’s comfort is maintained. Please feel free to discuss any concerns you may have regarding your child’s visit before your arrival.

Q: What should I do if my child cries?

A: Crying is a normal response from children, especially the very young and apprehensive. Our team has extensive training and experience focusing on the oral health of young people. Children are often apprehensive in unfamiliar situations and our team is well-prepared to help them become familiar and less apprehensive in these cases.

Q: Don’t you ``knock children out`` or ``put them under`` for treatment?

A: Contrary to popular belief, the majority of children who have treatment performed in the pediatric dental office require little or no sedation at all. Pediatric dentists and their team have more experience helping children through necessary treatment. In the event your child does require sedation to receive necessary treatment, Dr. Vela and his team will discuss the most appropriate methods to ensure your child remains comfortable.

Q: Should I wait until my child is no longer scared to take them to the dentist?

A: Apprehension and anxiety for dental visits is a common reaction for very young children and even some adults! For a first visit to the dentist, children have no expectations other than what we as parents provide. For that reason, we want these first visits to be as positive as possible. Never use a visit to the dentist in a threatening manner or as a result of poor behavior. Visiting the dentist BEFORE a problem arises is one of the most effective ways to maintain positive visits. Waiting until a child is in pain can produce unnecessary stress and has the potential to make these visits scary as well as traumatic.

Q: Are bad teeth inherited?

A: In extremely rare cases, some dental conditions are passed genetically from parent to child. Fortunately, dental cavities and “weak” or “bad” teeth cannot be inherited. Dental cavities are caused by prolonged exposure to acid produced by bacteria in our mouths. The frequency of snacking and oral hygiene habits also determine the likelihood of developing cavities. Instead of passing bad teeth down to children, parents and caregivers not only pass down the bacteria responsible for causing cavities but also pass down snacking and oral hygiene habits.

Q: What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?

A: All pediatric dentists, like family dentists, graduated from dental school. However, pediatric dentists have had an additional two to three years of hands-on training working with growing and developing children as well as those with special needs. In addition to needs specific to children, pediatric dentists have extensive training in facial growth and development, interceptive orthodontics, behavior management and sedation.

Q: Do pediatric dentists perform cosmetic procedures?

A: Like most dentists, pediatric dentists perform a range of cosmetic procedures to maintain or restore the natural appearance of teeth. In some cases, the pediatric dentist may refer you to a dentist who focuses solely on cosmetic procedures.

Q: Are thumb sucking and pacifier sucking habits harmful to teeth?

A: Non-nutritive habits are a normal part of a child’s development. Depending on the intensity, frequency and duration of the habit, these habits may interfere with the normal development and growth of the teeth and jaws. At your child’s oral evaluation, we will discuss the presence of any habits and their effects on your child’s development.

Q: How safe are dental x-rays?

A: Dental x-rays are a powerful tool used to detect the presence of disease in your child’s mouth. Without them, the presence of disease can go undetected and possibly lead to pain, infection and tooth loss. There is very little risk in dental x-rays. In order to limit the amount of x-rays to which children are exposed, we use lead aprons and digital radiography, which requires less exposure to x-rays than conventional dental x-rays.

Q: How do I know if my child needs sealants?

A: At your child’s oral evaluation, we will discuss the need for sealants. Sealants work by filling in the grooves on the chewing surfaces of teeth. Easy and comfortable to apply, sealants can protect teeth for many years.

Q: Do you charge more since you are a specialist?

A: With more extensive and specialized training and more formal education, it would seem pediatric dentists would charge more than other dentists. However, our fees are similar and in some cases less than family dentists in the area. Not only are we a good value, we’re also a good buy.

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