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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


May I accompany my child during their appointment? 
We have an open office policy at Panhandle Pediatric Dentistry. Parents are welcome to accompany their children during their dental visit. This allows parents a first hand look at the steps we take to ensure your child has a positive experience while visiting. We do ask that you limit the number of people who accompany your child as our dental operatories are limited in space.  Some children require advanced behavior and/or pharmacological management to accomplish needed treatment. We will make every attempt to avoid your child being sedated for dental treatment. However, some children are extremely nervous or have a tremendous amount of dental work to be completed and thus benefit greatly from sedation. During these procedures parents are not allowed in the treatment rooms. This ensures that your child has our staff’s and the dentist's undivided attention.


What should be expected at my child's first appointment?

We need your help to make your child's dental visit a pleasurable one. In order to make the first visit “fun” and non-threatening, we usually give the child a ride in the dental chair and “count” his or her teeth. When we “count teeth,” we are really completing a dental exam and checking for tooth decay (cavities). We also take this opportunity to get an idea of what their bite (occlusion) looks like. If necessary, x-rays may be recommended. If your referring dentist has taken recent x-rays, please bring them with you or have them forwarded to our office. We will return all original x-rays. We ask that you inform the child that he/she is going to see the dentist and that we are going to brush and count their teeth and possibly take pictures (x-rays) if necessary. Reassure them that it is going to be easy and fun. It is best if you refrain from using any words that might cause unnecessary fear for your child, such as needle, shot, hurt, pull or drill. We use other words that convey the same message but are less frightening to the child. By making the first visit short and easy, children have a better attitude about their return check-ups or subsequent treatment appointments.

When should my child first see a dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child see a pediatric dentist by their first birthday. The goal of this early visit is to establish a dental home and receive education that is important in detecting and preventing early childhood cavities.

How will you perform the exam on my 1-3 year old child when I know he/she will not cooperate?
Very young children (less than 3) will be evaluated by one of our pediatric dentists using the knee-to-knee position.  During this exam the parent will hold the child in their lap facing away from the doctor and straddling the parents lap.  The doctor and parent will sit knee to knee and the child will then recline on the parent and doctor's legs to allow optimum visualization of oral structures and facilitate hygiene instructions.  

Why fill a baby tooth if it will only fall out eventually?
A baby tooth saves space for the permanent teeth and helps guide them into position. If the baby tooth is lost too soon due to decay or trauma, the teeth beside it may tilt or shift into the empty space. Permanent teeth will not have room to come in properly, creating crowded and crooked teeth. This condition can lead to extensive and costly orthodontic treatment if a space maintainer is not used to hold the space. It is less expensive to restore a tooth than replace it with a space maintainer. Remember that some baby teeth are not replaced until a child is 10 to 12 years old.

How often should my child see the dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association recommend a dental check-up at least twice a year for most children and adults. However, some children and adults require more frequent visits due to increased risk of tooth decay or a need for more frequent dental cleanings due to braces, poor oral hygiene and increased risk of periodontal disease. Your child's dentist will evaluate any specific needs and recommend a dental prevention regimen.

What are dental sealants?
A sealant is a hardened plastic material that helps protect the grooves and pits on the chewing surface of the teeth from getting decayed. Sealants can last anywhere from one to five years depending on the patient’s eating habits. Avoidance of sticky, sugary foods, which can "pull" at the sealants will help them last longer.

What is nitrous oxide? Is it safe?
Nitrous oxide/oxygen is a blend of two gases, oxygen and nitrous oxide. When it is inhaled, it has a calming effect on the patient. The relaxed state it produces in the patient allows him/her to respond more favorably to treatment. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is very safe. Your child will remain fully awake and alert and can respond easily to stimuli. It is eliminated quickly from the body with normal breathing.  Nitrous Oxide is also known as “laughing gas”.

What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
One serious form of decay among young children is baby bottle tooth decay also known as early childhood caries (ECC). This condition is caused by frequent and long exposures of an infant’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar. Among these liquids are milk (including breast milk), formula, fruit juice and other sweetened drinks.
Putting a baby to bed for a nap or at night with a bottle other than water can cause serious and rapid tooth decay. 

Sweet liquids pool around the child’s teeth giving plaque bacteria an opportunity to produce acids that attack tooth enamel. If you must give the baby a bottle as a comforter at bedtime, it should contain only water. If your child won't fall asleep without the bottle and its usual beverage, gradually dilute the bottle's contents with water over a period of two to three weeks. 

After each feeding, wipe the baby’s gums and teeth with a damp washcloth or gauze pad to remove plaque. The easiest way to do this is to sit down, place the child’s head in your lap or lay the child on a dressing table or the floor. Whatever position you use, be sure you can see into the child’s mouth easily to cleanse it.

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