Need Help Choosing the Right Pediatric Dentist?

When choosing medical care for our kids, there are a lot of traits that are important to look for. It certainly has to be someone knowledgeable and skilled, but beyond that, you want to choose someone that’s going to have a good attitude and be able to get along well with your child. In the case of pediatric dentistry, that trait becomes even more important, as this is someone who’s going to be teaching and reinforcing good dental habits that will stay with your child for the rest of his or her life.

When looking for the right pediatric dentist, one of the best tools you have is your own pair of ears. Ask around, and especially talk to other parents in the area to find out who they go to and who they trust. Credentials are also highly important, but there’s no real substitute for firsthand, anecdotal evidence. Another good consideration is the size of the practice, and the number of patients the dentist is currently working with. While a busy office is a good sign, you want to make sure that your pediatric dentist will be available for your child and that making appointments won’t be a huge hassle. Remember also that this is a person that you’ll be seeing often, and that the person you choose as your child’s pediatric dentist should be someone that you get along with as well.

A great way to find the right pediatric dentist is to treat it like you’re hiring an employee. Don’t be afraid to conduct some interviews, where you can sit down and see what your potential choice is like before committing your child to an appointment. Though references are very helpful, it’s certainly a good idea to personally judge the way a pediatric dentist comes across. After all, your own parental instincts are important to pay attention to when entrusting the care of your child’s teeth to a pediatric dentist. This is someone who’s going to be spending a lot of time with your child, and you want to make sure that he or she is trustworthy.

When choosing the right pediatric dentist it’s important to be thorough. Ideally, the person that you choose will be able to take care of your child for years to come, and making the right decision the first time will save a lot of wasted time and money. One of the great things about having a dedicated pediatric dentist working with your child as he or she grows is that the dentist will be personally familiar with your child’s dental history, and will be more likely to notice things earlier, like the potential need for braces or a retainer.

Why Should My Child See A Carlsbad Pediatric Dentist?

Almost every day, I get asked the same question: “Why does my child need to see a pediatric specialist instead of visiting a regular dentist?” As a working mom of three kids, I can appreciate the special concerns and worries that all parents share about their children’s health. When seeking care for my own children, I want to feel comfortable that the professional seeing my kids understands their perspectives and needs.

Pediatric dentists are trained to address the unique physiologic, emotional, and social needs of their young patients. Whereas most dentists are able to practice adult dentistry immediately after four years of dental school, pediatric dentists complete two to three more years of advanced training. This extra clinical education prepares them for the special medical issues of infants, children, adolescents, including those with extraordinary needs.

My education as a pediatric dentist focused specifically on the medical and dental health aspects of children. While most general dentists treat a broad range of dental issues, a pediatric specialist acts as a “pediatrician” in charge of oral health. Early dental problems, including baby bottle tooth decay, pacifier use, and routine care of an infant’s teeth are all commonly handled in the pediatric dental practice. We also follow children from a very early age through their adolescence and are able to closely monitor their growth and development over time. This facilitates early recognition and referral of problems such as the need for orthodontic evaluation.

As many as 75% of all adults experience some degree of dental fear. 5-10% suffer from a more extreme version known as dental phobia, a fear so strong that they avoid dental care at all costs. Early childhood visits to an office specializing in pediatric dentistry dramatically decreases this fear later in life by establishing a positive and enjoyable dental experience from start. This is achieved in many ways and begins the moment a family walks into a pediatric dental office. These first impressions set the tone for how the child feels and acts at the dentist. Offices are designed with children in mind, frequently incorporating a special childlike theme throughout the building. Having the first dental visit in a friendly and nonthreatening environment develops trust and confidence in dental care and this hopefully carries over into adulthood.

Additionally, preventative care is much more easily fostered in these friendly surroundings. Children feel good about their teeth and want to protect their dental identities. Once inside the pediatric-themed office, the child’s positive experience is reinforced by toys, puzzles, coloring books, video games, overhead televisions, reward stickers, and treasure boxes. A nurturing environment is supported by playful office staff trained to work with children and who (more importantly) wish to work solely with young patients. Our staff enjoys interacting through games and role-playing playing, all along teaching kids the valuable health lesson of taking responsibility for caring for one’s teeth. The positive attitude in the office spreads from patient to patient, and with no other adults being treated (as in a regular dental office), the child begins to feel that the pediatric office is a kid-safe zone.

For the nervous child in whom behavioral techniques and simple reassurance are not enough to allay their fears, most pediatric offices have nitrous oxide or ”laughing gas”. This medicine does not place children under general (asleep) anesthesia but rather in a mild and safe state of sedation. Once relaxed, dental treatments can easily proceed in a more pleasant manner. For the rare child in whom nitrous oxide is not a good option, a pediatric dentist with hospital privileges can perform the required work in the operating room, under the watchful eye of a pediatric anesthesiologist. This provides a very safe and controlled environment in which to treat the most anxious and medically compromised child.

Obviously, good oral health is an important part of total health when treating children and our good working relationships with other pediatric health professionals is very useful. We often work with pediatricians, other physicians, and dental specialists to design a specifically tailored treatment plan that is ideal for your child.

Not every health care professional is well suited or has the education to care for children. It takes a special amount of patience, compassion, and skill to handle a child expressing natural fears related to new experiences, unfamiliar environments, parental separation, anxiety, or pain. None of us take our children to an internal medicine doctor for their check-ups and sick visits, so why would an adult dentist suffice when it comes to something as important as our kids’ smiles and oral health? Pediatric dentists, most of whom are parents as well, have dedicated their careers to caring for your children in a warm, nurturing, and safe place.

Ten Tips About Baby Teeth From The Tooth Fairy

By Brian J. Gray, DDS, MAGD, FICO

I love teeth! They’re so shiny, white, and bright! They’re so pretty and sparkly. That’s why I collect them. But I don’t want them until you don’t need them anymore, so I wait for the perfect time. It usually begins when you’re about five years old or older, but sometimes it happens much later. Some of your baby teeth will start to wiggle and jiggle. Then, they are finally nudged out by your grown-up teeth. But no need to fear, losing baby teeth happens to everyone.

When a loose tooth comes out, that’s when I go into action. Collecting teeth is my job. Kids know how much I like teeth, so they save them for me. They put them out at night, sometimes in tiny tooth pillows or plastic cases. Sometimes, I find them underneath pillows when kids are sleeping. I like it when kids think about me. I think each child is special and so are their teeth! That’s why I have some tips for keeping your teeth in tip-top shape:

  1. Brush your teeth in the morning and at night. Twice a day is nice (and needed to keep your teeth healthy.) It’s even better if you brush after eating snacks, too.
  2. When brushing, use just a tiny dab of toothpaste, the size of a match head.
  3. Brush the outside and inside of every tooth. Brush your teeth for about two to three minutes, about the time it takes to sing, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” eight times!
  4. When brushing, don’t ever eat the toothpaste. It’s meant for your teeth, not your tummy.
  5. Brush your tongue (gently!). Those nasty cavity-causing germs like to hang out on your soft tongue, so you must brush them away.
  6. Floss every day. Dental floss is a piece of string that looks like thread or yarn. It’s used to clean stuff out between your teeth. Ask an adult to help you. Those cavity-causing germs also like the places between your teeth to hide. Flossing gets rid of them.
  7. Eat healthy snacks. Your teeth like fruits, vegetables, bread, milk, and cheese that give them vitamins, minerals, and other good things for them to grow strong and shiny.
  8. Don’t eat too many sugary foods like candy, cakes, or other desserts. Sugar is the food that those nasty cavity-causing germs really love! It gives them just what they need to go to work causing cavities on your teeth.
  9. Don’t crunch on ice! (My friend, the Ice Fairy, doesn’t like it either!) Ice wears down your teeth really fast.
  10. Visit a dentist twice a year. Dentists are my friends because they help to keep kid’s teeth in really good shape.

Take good care of your teeth. Your baby teeth have a big job. They help your permanent teeth (the ones you’ll keep forever) come into your mouth, at just the right time, in the right way. Once each baby tooth has done it’s job, then I’ll come collect it.

In the meantime, take the ten tips for turning your teeth into tip-top shape. (Say that ten times!)

Healthy teeth rule! Losing baby teeth is cool!


The Tooth Fairy