What is a pediatric dentist?

A pediatric dentist is a specialist dedicated to the oral-health care of children 6 months through 17 years of age. After four years of dental school, a pediatric dentist commits to two to three additional years of training to become an expert in children’s oral health. A pediatric dental specialist…

  • Practices the latest dental advances for children.
  • Guides a child’s dental growth and development.
  • Prevents, detects and treats dental diseases.
  • Supports parents as they care for their child’s oral health.
  • Avoids future dental problems.
  • Eliminates the fear of visiting the dentist.
  • Treats special-needs patients.

What is a dental home?

A “dental home” is where your child’s oral-health care is provided in a comprehensive, continually accessible, coordinated and family-centered way by a licensed dentist. At Star Kids Pediatric Dentistry, our dental home includes fun, friendliness and spectacle! You’ll find — not one — but SEVEN pediatric dental specialists on staff. Experts agree — children who have an established dental home by their first birthday are more likely to receive preventive and routine oral-health care.

Are baby teeth important?

Baby teeth, called primary teeth, may seem small, but they play a big role in your child’s oral health. At their healthiest, primary teeth do amazing things.

  • They allow chewing and eating for proper nutrition, growth and development.
  • They guide permanent teeth into position.
  • They facilitate jawbone and jaw-muscle development.
  • They aid in speech development.

Star Kids can show you the best way to care for your baby’s teeth. It’s easy and necessary!

Eruption of your child’s teeth

Amazingly, children’s teeth begin forming before birth. At six months, the first primary (or baby) teeth to erupt through the gums are the lower central incisors. The upper central incisors soon follow.

By age 3, all 20 primary teeth usually appear, although the pace and order of their eruption varies. Permanent teeth begin appearing around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process will continue until your child is approximately 21 years of age. Just so you know, adults have 28 permanent teeth, or up to 32 including the third molars (or wisdom teeth).

How do I handle dental emergencies?

Don’t panic. Here’s what you need to know.

Toothache: Clean the area of the affected tooth by rinsing the mouth thoroughly with warm water. Use dental floss to dislodge any food that may be impacted. If the pain persists, contact our pediatric dental office. Do not place aspirin or heat on the gum or on the aching tooth. If the face is swollen, apply cold compresses and contact us immediately.

Cut or Bitten Tongue, Lip or Cheek: Apply ice to the injured areas to help control swelling. If there is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with a gauze or cloth. If the bleeding cannot be controlled with simple pressure, call our pediatric dental office or visit the hospital emergency room.

Knocked-out Permanent Tooth: If possible, find the tooth. Handle it by the crown (the top part), not by the root. You may rinse the tooth with water only. DO NOT clean with soap, scrub or handle the tooth unnecessarily. Inspect the tooth for fractures.

If it looks okay, try to reinsert it into the socket. Have the child hold the tooth in place by biting down on some gauze. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, transport the tooth in a cup containing the child’s saliva or milk. If the patient is old enough, the tooth can also be carried in the patient’s mouth (beside the cheek). Bring the child to either of our Star Kids locations IMMEDIATELY! Time is critical to saving the tooth.

Chipped or Fractured Permanent Tooth: Contact Star Kids immediately. Quick action can save the tooth, prevent infection, and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment. Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling. If possible, locate and save any tooth fragments and bring them with you to the dentist.

Knocked-out Baby Tooth: Contact Star Kids during business hours. This is not usually an emergency, and in most cases, no treatment is necessary. Chipped or Fractured Baby Tooth: Contact Star Kids.

REMEMBER: Most tooth injuries also include head trauma, which can be life threatening. If your child suffers a head injury, immediately take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room.

Possible Broken or Fractured Jaw: Keep the jaw from moving. Take your child to the nearest hospital emergency department.

Dental radiographs (X-rays)

Radiographs, also known as X-rays, are an important part of your child’s dental care. They help pediatric dentists to diagnose and treat health conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination.

Radiographs help…

  • Detect cavities.
  • Survey erupting teeth.
  • Diagnose bone diseases.
  • Evaluate the results of an injury.
  • Plan orthodontic treatment.

On average, most pediatric dentists request radiographs about once a year. Pediatric dentists are careful to minimize a child’s exposure to radiation. With modern safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable for your child and more affordable for you.

Is thumb sucking okay?

Sucking is a natural reflex in many infants and young children. It lets them feel secure and happy, or helps them sleep. Children should stop thumb sucking by the time their permanent front teeth are ready to erupt — usually between the ages of 2 and 4. Peer pressure causes many school-aged children to stop. Thumb sucking that persists after the eruption of the permanent teeth can cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and tooth alignment. Pacifiers are no substitute for thumb sucking. They can affect teeth essentially the same way as sucking fingers and thumbs. Here’s what you can do:

  • Instead of scolding your child for thumb sucking, praise them when they don’t.
  • Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure. Find out what’s causing the anxiety and focus on correcting that.
  • Children who are sucking for comfort will suckle less when their parents provide comfort.
  • Reward children when they refrain from sucking during difficult periods, such as when being separated from their parents.

If these approaches don’t work, come talk with us. We can help you figure out a solution.

What is pulp therapy?

The inner, central core of the tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels, connective tissue and reparative cells is known as the pulp. When dental caries or injury damage this sensitive part of the tooth, we use pulp therapy to heal the affected tooth so the tooth is not lost. The two most common types of pulp therapy are…

Pulpotomy: The diseased pulp tissue is removed from within the crown portion of the tooth. Next, an agent is placed to prevent bacterial growth and soothe the remaining nerve tissue. This is followed by a final restoration, usually a stainless-steel crown.

Pulpectomy: During this treatment, the diseased pulp tissue is completely removed from the crown to the root. The canals are cleaned, disinfected and, in the case of primary teeth, filled with a resorbable material. Then, a final restoration is placed. A permanent tooth would be filled with a non-resorbing material.

When is the best time for orthodontic treatment?

Developing malocclusions, or bad bites, can be recognized as early as 2–3 years of age. Taking early action can reduce the need for major orthodontic treatment at a later age. These actions can happen in three stages.

Stage I — Early Treatment: This period of treatment takes place between the ages of 2 and 6 years. At this young age, we are concerned with underdeveloped dental arches, the premature loss of primary teeth, and harmful habits, such as finger or thumb sucking. Beginning treatment during this stage is usually successful and can sometimes eliminate the need for future orthodontic/orthopedic treatment.

Stage II — Mixed Dentition: This period covers the ages of 6 to 12 years, with the eruption of the permanent incisor (front) teeth and 6-year molars. During this time, we are focused on jaw malrelationships and dental realignment problems. This is an excellent stage to start treatment because your child’s hard and soft tissues are usually very responsive to orthodontic or orthopedic forces.

Stage III — Adolescent Dentition: This stage deals with the permanent teeth and the development of the final bite relationship.

Baby-bottle tooth decay (early childhood caries)

This is one of the more serious forms of tooth decay among young children. It’s caused by frequent and long exposure of an infant’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar.

  • Milk (including breast milk)
  • Formula
  • Fruit juice
  • Other sweetened drinks

Putting baby to bed for a nap or at night with a bottle of something other than water can cause serious and rapid tooth decay.

Sweet liquid pools 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 of their usual beverage, gradually dilute the bottle’s contents with water over a period of two to three weeks. What you need to do: After each feeding, wipe the baby’s gums and teeth with a damp washcloth or gauze pad to remove plaque. This is actually easy — sit down, place the child’s head in your lap or on any flat surface and gently wipe. As long as you can see into the child’s mouth easily, you’re good to go.

Tongue – more harm than cool?
It’s not surprising to see teens with pierced tongues, lips and cheeks these days. Along with looking cool and impressing friends, common side effects of piercing include:

  • Pain.
  • Swelling.
  • Infection.
  • Increased flow of saliva.
  • Injuries to gum tissue. Your mouth contains millions of bacteria, and infection is a common complication of oral piercing. Your tongue could swell large enough to close off your airway. Difficult-to-control bleeding or nerve damage can result if a blood vessel or nerve bundle is in the path of the needle. Others have experienced:
  • Chipped or cracked teeth.
  • Blood clots.
  • Blood poisoning.
  • Heart infections.
  • Brain abscesses.
  • Nerve disorders (trigeminal neuralgia).
  • Receding gums or scar tissue. A great smile is a classic look that is good on anyone.