What is a Pediatric Dentist?

Pediatric dentistry is the specialty of dentistry that focuses on the oral health and unique needs of young people. After completing a four-year dental school curriculum, two to three additional years of rigorous training is required to become a pediatric dentist. This specialized program of study and hands-on experience prepares pediatric dentists to meet the unique needs of your infants, children and adolescents, including persons with special health care needs.(AAPD)

We are concerned about your childs total health care. Good oral health is an important part of total health. Establishing us as your child's, "Dental Home" provides us the opportunity to implement preventive dental health habits that keep a child free from dental/oral disease. We focus on prevention, early detection and treatment of dental diseases, and keep current on the latest advances in dentistry for children. (AAPD)

Your Child's First Dental Visit

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), your child should visit the dentist by his/her 1 st birthday. Pleasant visits to the dental office promote the establishment of trust and confidence in your child that will last a lifetime. Our goal, along with our staff, is to help all children feel good about visiting the dentist and teach them how to care for their teeth. From our special office designs, to our communication style, our main concern is what is best for your child . (AAPD)

It is best if you refrain from using words around your child that might cause unnecessary fear, such as needle, pull, drill or hurt. Pediatric dental offices make a practice of using words that convey the same message, but are pleasant and non-frightening to the child. (AAPD)

Why are Primary (Baby) Teeth so Important?

It is very important that primary teeth are kept in place until they are lost naturally. These teeth serve a number of critical functions. Primary teeth:

1. Maintain good nutrition by permitting your child to chew properly.

2. Are involved in speech development.

3. Help the permanent teeth by saving space for them. A healthy smile can help children feel good about the way they look to others.

4. Permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. Primary teeth also affect the development of speech and add to an attractive appearance. While the front 4 teeth last until 6-7 years of age, the back teeth (cuspids and molars) aren't replaced until age 10-13.

Dental Radiographs (X-Rays)

Radiographs (X-Rays) are a vital and necessary part of your child’s dental diagnostic process. Without them, certain dental conditions can and will be missed. (AAPD)

Q: How often should a child have dental X-ray films?

A: Since every child is unique, the need for dental X-ray films varies from child to child. Films are taken only after a complete review of your child's health, and only when they are likely to yield information that a visual exam cannot. (AAPD)

In general, children need X-rays more often than adults. Their mouths grow and change rapidly. They are more susceptible to tooth decay than adults. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends X-ray examinations every six months for children with a high risk of tooth decay. Children with a low risk of tooth decay require X-rays less frequently. (AAPD)

Q: Why should X-ray films be taken if my child has never had a cavity?

A: X-ray films detect much more than cavities. For example, X-rays may be needed to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury, or plan orthodontic treatment. X-rays allow dentists to diagnose and treat health conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable and affordable. (AAPD)

Q: Will X-ray films be taken routinely?

A: No. X-ray films are recommended only when necessary to protect your child's dental health. The frequency of X-ray films is determined by your child's individual needs. (AAPD)

Q: How safe are dental X-rays?

A: Pediatric dentists are particularly careful to minimize the exposure of child patients to radiation. With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. The risk is negligible. In fact, dental X-rays represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem. Also, we have the latest digital x-ray technology reducing radiation up to 80%. (AAPD)

Q: How will my child be protected from X-ray exposure?

A: Lead body aprons and shields will protect your child. Today's equipment filters out unnecessary X-rays and restricts the X-ray beam to the area of interest. High-speed film and proper shielding assure that your child receives a minimal amount of radiation exposure. (AAPD)

care of your child's teeth

as the child's first tooth erupts begin daily brushing. only a pea size amount of fluoride toothpaste can be used after the child is old enough not to swallow it. by age 4 or 5, children should be able to brush their own teeth twice a day with supervision until about age seven to make sure they are doing a thorough job. however, each child is different. it is equally important to note that children often need this type of supervision up to the age of eight. your dentist can help you determine whether the child has the skill level to brush properly. (aapd)

proper brushing removes plaque from the inner, outer and chewing surfaces. flossing removes plaque between the teeth where a toothbrush can't reach. flossing should begin when any two teeth touch. you should floss the child's teeth until he or she can do it alone. (aapd)

good diet = healthy teeth

a healthy diet is a balanced diet that naturally supplies all the nutrients your child needs to grow. and what's a balanced diet? one that includes the following major food groups every day: fruits and vegetables; breads and cereals; milk and dairy products; meat, fish and eggs. he/she must have a balanced diet for her teeth to develop properly. she also needs a balanced diet for healthy gum tissue around the teeth. equally important, a diet high in certain kinds of carbohydrates, such as sugar and starches, may place your child at extra risk of tooth decay. first, be sure he/she has a balanced diet. then, check how frequently he eats foods with sugar or starch in them. foods with starch include breads, crackers, pasta and such snacks as pretzels and potato chips. when checking for sugar, look beyond the sugar bowl and candy dish. a variety of foods contain one or more types of sugar, and all types of sugars can promote dental decay. fruits, a few vegetables and most milk products have at least one type of sugar. sugar can be found in many processed foods, even some that do not taste sweet. for example, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich not only has sugar in the jelly, but may have sugar added to the peanut butter. sugar is also added to such condiments as ketchup and salad dressings. furthermore, don't nurse your daughter to sleep or put her to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice, or sweetened liquid. while she sleeps, any unswallowed liquid in the mouth supports bacteria that produce acids and attack the teeth. protect your child from severe tooth decay by putting her to bed with nothing more than a pacifier or bottle of water. (aapd)

how do i prevent cavities?

the following steps will help your child be part of the cavity-free generation:

1. beware of frequent snacking

2. brush effectively twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste

3. floss once a day

4. have sealants applied when appropriate

5. seek regular dental check-ups

6. assure proper fluoride through drinking water, fluoride products or fluoride supplements (aapd)

seal out decay

sealants protect the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, especially the chewing surfaces of back teeth where most cavities in children are found. made of clear or shaded plastic, sealants are applied to the teeth to help keep them cavity-free. even if your child brushes and flosses carefully, it is difficult - sometimes impossible -to clean the tiny grooves and pits on certain teeth. food and bacteria build up in these crevices, placing your child in danger of tooth decay. sealants "seal out" food and plaque, thus reducing the risk of decay. the application of a sealant is quick and comfortable. it takes only one visit. the tooth is first cleaned. it is then conditioned and dried. the sealant is then flowed onto the grooves of the tooth and allowed to harden or hardened with a special light. your child will be able to eat right after the appointment. research shows that sealants can last for many years if properly cared for. so, your child will be protected throughout the most cavity-prone years. if your child has good oral hygiene and avoids biting hard objects, sealants will last longer. your pediatric dentist will check the sealants during routine dental visits and can recommend reapplication or repair when necessary. (aapd)

baby bottle tooth decay (early childhood caries)

the most important reason is to begin a thorough prevention program. dental problems can begin early. a big concern is early childhood caries (also known as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing caries). your child risks severe decay from using a bottle during naps or at night or when they nurse continuously from the breast. (aapd)

the earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems. children with healthy teeth chew food easily, learn to speak clearly, and smile with confidence. start your child now on a lifetime of good dental habits. (aapd)

when will my baby start getting teeth?

from six months to age 3, your child may have sore gums when teeth erupt. many children like a clean teething ring, cool spoon, or cold wet washcloth. some parents swear by a chilled ring; others simply rub the baby's gums with a clean finger. (aapd)


when the element fluoride is used in small amounts on a routine basis it helps to prevent tooth decay. it encourages "remineralization," a strengthening of weak areas on the teeth. these spots are the beginning of cavity formation. fluoride occurs naturally in water and in many different foods, as well as in dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, gels, varnish and supplements. fluoride is effective when combined with a healthy diet and good oral hygiene. children between the ages of six months and 16 years may require fluoride supplements. the pediatric dentist considers many different factors before recommending a fluoride supplement. your child's age, risk of developing dental decay and the different liquids your child drinks are important considerations. bottled, filtered and well waters vary in their fluoride amount, so a water analysis may be necessary to ensure your child is receiving the proper amount. (aapd)

what's the best toothpaste for my child?

your child should use toothpaste with fluoride and the american dental association seal of acceptance . young children, especially pre-school aged children, should not swallow any toothpaste. careful supervision and only a small pea-sized amount on the brush are recommended. if not monitored, children may easily swallow over four times the recommended daily amount of fluoride in toothpaste.(aapd)

thumb sucking

this type of sucking is completely normal for babies and young children. it provides security. for young babies, it's a way to make contact with and learn about the world. in fact, babies begin to suck on their fingers or thumbs even before they are born. most children stop sucking on thumbs, pacifiers or other objects on their own between two and four years of age. no harm is done to their teeth or jaws. however, some children repeatedly suck on a finger, pacifier or other object over long periods of time. in these children, the upper front teeth may tip toward the lip or not come in properly. dr. burke will carefully watch the way your child's teeth come in and jaws develop, keeping the sucking habit in mind at all times. for most children there is no reason to worry about a sucking habit until the permanent front teeth are ready to come in. most children stop sucking habits on their own, but some children need the help of their parents and their pediatric dentist. when your child is old enough to understand the possible results of a sucking habit, dr. burke can encourage your child to stop, as well as talk about what happens to the teeth if your child doesn't stop. this advice, coupled with support from parents, helps most children quit. if this approach doesn't work, your pediatric dentist may recommend a mouth appliance that blocks sucking habits. (aapd)

what is early orthodontic treatment?

malocclusion is often inherited. orthodontic problems also are caused by dental injuries, the early loss of primary teeth or such habits a thumb sucking, fingernail biting, or lip biting. your pediatric dentist can help your child avoid oral habits that may create orthodontic problems. early orthodontics can enhance your child's smile, but the benefits far surpass appearance. pediatric orthodontics can straighten crooked teeth, guide erupting teeth into position, correct bite problems, and even prevent the need for tooth extractions. straight teeth are easier to keep clean and less susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease. different orthodontic appliances work in different ways to benefit your child's dental health. some are fixed; others are removable. dr. burke will explain which appliance is best for your child, what the treatment can do, and how long it will take. (aapd)

mouth guards

mouth guards hold top priority as sports equipment. they protect not just the teeth, but the lips, cheeks, and tongue. they help protect children from such head and neck injuries as concussions and jaw fractures. increasingly, organized sports are requiring mouth guards to prevent injury to their athletes. research shows that most oral injuries occur when athletes are not wearing mouth protection. whenever he or she is in an activity with a risk of falls or of head contact with other players or equipment your child needs a mouth guard. this includes football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, skateboarding, even gymnastics. we usually think of football and hockey as the most dangerous to the teeth, but nearly half of sports-related mouth injuries occur in basketball and baseball. dr. burke can customize a mouth guard for your child although they cost a bit more, they are more comfortable and more effective in preventing injuries. (aapd)

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