Frequently Asked Questions About Pediatric Dentistry, San Mateo
Regarding Tooth Loss
What should I do if my child’s baby tooth is knocked out?
Contact our office as soon as possible.
What should I do if my child’s permanent tooth is knocked out?
Rinse the knocked out tooth in cool water. Do not scrub the tooth. If possible, replace the tooth in the socket and hold it there with clean gauze. If you cant put the tooth back into the socket, place the tooth in a container of milk (SALT water if milk is not available.) Come to our office immediately. Feel free to call our emergency number if it is after hours. The tooth has a better chance of being saved if you act immediately.
What should I do if my child’s tooth is fractured or chipped?
Contact our office as soon as possible. Time is of the essence! Our goal is to save the tooth and prevent infection. Rinse the mouth out with water, apply a cold compress to reduce swelling. Its possible that if you can find the broken tooth fragment, that it can be bonded back to the tooth.
What do I do if my child has a toothache?
Call our office immediately to schedule an appointment. To help comfort your child, rinse out the mouth with cold water and apply a compress.
How can we prevent dental injuries?
Simple. Sport related dental injuries can be reduced or prevented by wearing mouth guards. Child proofing your home can help reduce injuries at home. In addition, regular dental check ups will contribute to preventative care.
What are Dental Sealants?
Tooth Sealants refer to a plastic which a dentist bonds into the grooves of the chewing surface of a tooth as a means of helping to prevent the formation of tooth decay.
How do sealants work?
In many cases, it is near impossible for children to clean the tiny grooves between their teeth. When a sealant is applied, the surface of the tooth is somewhat flatter and smoother. There are no longer any places on the chewing part of the tooth that the bristles of a toothbrush can’t reach and clean. Since plaque can be removed more easily and effectively, there is much less chance that decay will start.
What is the life expectancy of tooth sealants?
The longevity of sealants can vary. Sealants which have remained in place for three to five years would be considered successful, however, sealants can last much longer. It is not uncommon to see sealants placed during childhood still intact on the teeth of adults. Our office will check your childs sealants during routine dental visits and will recommend repair or reapplication when necessary.
Which teeth should be sealed?
Any tooth that has characteristics which a sealant can correct, and thus place the tooth at less risk for developing decay, should be sealed. The most common teeth for a dentist to seal are a child’s “back” teeth, and of these teeth the molars are the most common teeth on which dental sealants are placed. The recommendation for sealants should be considered on a case by case basis.
What is the procedure for placing sealants?
Generally the procedure takes just one visit. Placing dental sealants can be a very easy process. The tooth is cleaned, conditioned and dried. The sealant is then flowed onto the grooves of the tooth where it is hardened with a special blue light. The sealant is then buffed down. All normal activities can occur directly after the appointment.
How important is brushing and flossing after sealants are applied?
It is just as important for your child to brush and floss their teeth. Sealants are only one part of the defensive plan against tooth decay.
How much do Dental Sealants Cost?
Dental sealant treatment is quite affordable, especially when you consider the value of protection against tooth decay. Most dental insurance companies cover sealants. Check with your insurance company about your child’s coverage.
When some children smile, they may show an excessive amount of gum tissue. This is called a gummy smile and may be due to a few different problems:
Gum irritation and overgrowth from braces. This is more likely to happen if the teeth appear short before the braces are placed on the teeth. This problem results not from the quality of the orthodontic care, but is a result of the pre-treatment gum and bone thickness.
Altered passive eruption. The gum and bone normally recede as a part of the normal eruption of the teeth. When this normal recession doesn’t occur, the gums cover too much of the teeth and make them appear “too short”. The teeth are usually not “too short”. They are usually of normal size but are buried under the gum and bone.
If there are habits such as thumb sucking or grinding (bruxism), excessive pressures or tooth wear can alter the appearance of the teeth. The problems may be able to be corrected with orthodontics, surgical procedures or with dental restorations such as crowns or veneers.
Skeletal developmental problems affect the growth of the jaws and the teeth. If orthodontics is instituted at 7 to 9 years of age, the growth of the jaws can often be controlled and the cosmetics can be improved.
Before treatment it is critical to properly evaluate the problems and get an accurate diagnosis. Some cosmetic issues can be easily corrected while others like skeletal problems can be more difficult.
Before treatment: Gummy smile with excess gum tissue
After treatment: Removal of excess gum tissue
Regarding Mouth Protectors
What are mouth guards?
Athletic mouth protectors are comprised of soft plastic. They come in standard or custom fit to adapt comfortably to the upper teeth.
Why are mouth guards important?
Mouth guards protect the teeth from possible sport injuries. They not only protect the teeth, but the lips, cheeks, tongue and jaw bone as well. They can contribute to the protection of a child from head and neck injuries such as concussions. Most injuries occur to the mouth and head area when a child is not wearing a mouth guard.
When should my child wear a mouth guard?
During any sports based activity where there is risk of head, face or neck injury. Such sports include Hockey, Soccer, Karate, Basketball, Baseball, Skating, Skateboarding, as well as many other sports. Most oral injuries occur when children play basketball, baseball and soccer.
How do I select a mouth guard for my child?
Choose a mouth guard that your child feels is comfortable. If a mouth guard feels bulky or interferes with speech to a great degree, it is probably not appropriate for your child.
There are many options in mouth guards. Most guards are found in athletic stores. These vary in comfort, protection as well as cost. The least expensive tend to be the least effective in preventing oral injuries. Customized mouth guards can be provided through our practice. They may be a bit more expensive, but they are much more comfortable and shock absorbent.
Regarding Diet and Cavity Prevention
How do I know if my child is getting the appropriate amount of fluoride in their diet?
If you do not reside in a community that has fluoridated water or have the appropriate amount of natural fluoride in your well water, your child will need some sort of supplement in their diet. We can help you determine how much of a supplement your child needs based upon their weight, age, current water fluoride levels and brand of toothpaste.
What is an appropriate diet for my child?
It is important that your child receives a naturally balanced diet that includes the important nutrients your child needs in order to grow. A daily diet that includes the major food groups of Meat, Fish and Eggs, Vegetables and Fruits, Breads and Cereals as well as Milk and Other Dairy Products.
Can my child’s diet affect their dental health?
Absolutely. It is important that you initiate a balanced diet for your child so that their teeth develop appropriately. In addition, this will positively affect healthy gum tissue surrounding the teeth. Please note that a diet high in sugar and other forms of carbohydrates may increase the probability of tooth decay.
How do I create a diet safe my child’s teeth?
As we stated earlier, initiate a balanced diet. Analyze the frequency in which starch based foods are eaten. These types of foods include breads, pasta, potato chips, etc. In addition, sugar is found in more than just candy. All types of sugars can promote tooth decay. For example, most milk-based products contain sugar. A Peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a favorite for bag lunches. Unfortunately, it includes sugar not only in the jelly, but also in the peanut butter. For less sugar and more flavor and nutrients, try replacing jelly with fresh fruit slices (apples, pears, or bananas) or chopped dried fruit. Go easy on the peanut butter, though its high in fat. Choose the no-salt-added kind for less sodium.
Should I eliminate all sugar and starch from my child’s diet?
Of course not. Many of these foods are incredibly important to your child’s health. Starch based foods are much safer to eat for teeth when eaten with an entire meal. Foods that stick to teeth are also more difficult to wash away by water, saliva or other drinks. Its important you talk to our staff about your child’s diet and maintaining proper dental care.
What helpful information can you give me regarding tooth decay in infants?
Most importantly, don’t nurse your children to sleep. Nor should you put them to bed with a bottle of milk, juice or formula. When a child is sleeping, any liquid that remains in the mouth can support the bacteria that produce acid and harms the teeth. A simple pacifier or bottle of water is fine.