Here at Growing Smiles Pediatric & Adolescent Dentistry, we are firm believers that good dental health begins with the proper home care.

It is very important that you help your child take good care of his or her teeth and mouth so he or she can have a healthy mouth and beautiful smile. Because we believe that a healthy mouth starts at home, we are dedicated to educating our patients about the correct way to take care of their teeth!

Proper care starts with regular brushing with a soft-bristled brush. It is also important to change the brush regularly so it does the job it is supposed to. Though many children hate to do it, flossing and rinsing the mouth out with a good antibacterial rinse are also very important for good dental health.

Dental care at home is not enough though. It is also important for your child to visit the dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. The sooner we catch any problems, the better off your child will be.

Contact us today if you are interested in setting up an examination for your child and learning about the best way to care for his or her teeth.

When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend “First Visit by First Birthday,” in order to prevent dental problems from developing. Since cavities can start as soon as the first tooth enters the mouth, your child should visit the dentist once this tooth arrives (usually between seven and twelve months). “Early Childhood Caries” (or Baby Bottle Tooth Decay) needs to be addressed promptly so that options are available to help keep your child smiling bright. Your child’s first visit will also familiarize them with the relaxed aspects of having a dental check-up and starting to build a relationship with Dr. Amy or Dr. Paul and our wonderful staff. The doctor will also provide you personalized guidance on oral hygiene and nutrition, examine your child’s dental development, and counsel you on what to do if your child experiences a dental injury. By establishing a dental home for your child as a patient of record, any emergency services for dental trauma can be easily treated in our practice. Today, children can grow up cavity-free and it is our goal to help you realize this ambition.

First visit:

The purpose of the first visit is to build a trusting relationship with your child. The appointment you have scheduled for your child is made to give your child individualized care.

Our goals at the first visit are to:

Perform an oral health risk assessment to determine your child’s risk of developing cavities.  That way, we can custom tailor a prevention program for your child. 

Discuss feeding and dietary habits as they relate to oral health.  We will also discuss the frequency of snacking which can have an enormous impact on the decay rate (Yes, juice is considered a snack.)

Clean your child’s teeth in a relaxed manner (either on your lap or in the dental chair, depending on how your child is responding.)

Teach you and your child (in an age appropriate way) proper oral hygiene techniques and how to position your child to clean their mouths so you can keep them clean at home. 

Evaluate your child’s fluoride needs to determine if supplementation is needed.

Build your child’s trust in the dentist and the office staff by letting him know that visits can be fun and we are his friend.

Any findings will be discussed, and recommended procedures will be explained to you in detail. As a pediatric dental office, we do our best to modify terminology for your child to alleviate any anxiety they may have if dental work is needed.

Sometimes, we will ask one of our team members to engage your child in picking a prize or a game while we discuss your child’s treatment needs.

How to prepare for the first visit:

Every effort is made to provide a caring and nurturing environment so that your child has a successful dental visit. Prior to the appointment, you can help your child prepare for the visit. 

Please explain to your child that they will be meeting new people and will be experiencing new things.

Please avoid using words that can induce anxiety and fear such as…sharp tools, needles, shot, drill. 

Avoid statements like “the dentist won’t hurt you”, but rather state “the dentist will be very gentle while working with you.”  We carefully select words that will foster a pleasant experience at their first appointment.

We prefer to work on a basis of trust.  Parents should try to appear relaxed and at ease.  Your child will sense anxiety on your part.

Will my child be good?

A visit to the dentist can be an interesting and exciting time for a child.  We care dedicated to your child’s comfort and look forward to helping your child learn that his visits can be enjoyable.  We recognize that children of different ages, experiences and conditions express themselves differently.  Do not be upset if your child cries.  Crying is a normal reaction to fear.  Children may be afraid of anything new and strange.  Kindness and trust are the greatest contributions for overcoming this fear.  We recognize that no one knows your child as well as you do.  We look forward to getting to know your child and helping you learn how we can best work together for your child’s benefit.

Why treat baby teeth?

It is important that the baby (primary) teeth stay healthy until they are lost naturally.  They serve many important functions including:

They permit your child to chew food easily and comfortably.

Since teeth are needed for proper pronunciation of may sounds, they allow your child to speak well

They hold space for the permanent teeth that will take their place. If they are lost early, space maintainers will be necessary.

They help to guide the eruption of permanent teeth.

They are important for esthetics and keep your child’s smile looking bright so your child can feel good about the way they look. 

Cavities grow very quickly in primary teeth as the enamel is very thin compared to permanent teeth.  If cavities do arise, it is important to take care of them quickly.  This way they can be treated in the most conservative manner possible.  If cavities do get large, they are much more difficult to restore and will be come painful for the child.  Untreated decay on any tooth, permanent or primary, can lead to serious infections (abscess) requiring extraction of the involved tooth.  If primary teeth are lost early due to infection, a space maintainer will be required to hold space for the permanent replacement.

What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two or three years of specialty training following dental school and limits their practice totreating only children.

How can parents help prevent tooth decay?

Parents should take their children to the dentist regularly, beginning with the eruption of the first tooth. Our Doctors and staff can recommend a specific program of brushing, flossing, and other treatments for you to supervise and teach to your children. These home treatments, when added to regular dental visits and a balanced diet, will help give your child a lifetime of healthy habits!

Please see our section on prevention.

How often does my child need to see the pediatric dentist?

A check-up every six months is recommended in order prevent cavities and other dental problems. Patients undergoing orthodontic treatment, patients with special health care needs, or patients that have problems with good oral hygiene should be seen every 3 months.  By providing fun dental experiences as a child, you can motivate them to maintain healthy smiles for a lifetime

Are thumbsucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child’s teeth?

Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only be a problem if they go on for a very long period of time.  Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers past the age of three, Dr. Amy and Dr. Paul may have some special ways to assist your child in stopping the habit.  

How safe are dental x-rays?

At Growing Smiles, we have made it a priority to minimize your child’s radiation exposure. We utilize the latest digital x-rays with specialized child settings that use significantly less radiation than traditional x-rays. By offering this technology, in combination with lead aprons, and limiting x-rays only to diagnose what is hidden from view, we are committed to your child’s maximum protection

Post-Op Care – Extractions

Most of the bleeding should have subsided by the time you have left the office. It is important to keep pressure on the extraction area for about 30 minutes after extraction. This can be done with the gauze provided when you left the office. If the site begins to bleed again, have the child bite on wet gauze for 10 minutes.

Most likely swelling after an extraction is due to your child biting the area that was anesthetized without realizing it. Place ice bags around the area if it is the day of extraction. Call to make an appointment to evaluate the severity of the swelling. If the swelling is rapidly progressing call us as soon as possible.

Post-Op Care – Space Maintainers

Becomes Loose:
If the appliance is very loose and can be easily removed from mouth, take appliance out and place in a safe place. If slightly loose, leave in mouth. Call for an appointment to have appliance recemented as soon as possible.

Teeth Are Coming In:
If the adult teeth are starting to erupt where the prematurely lost baby was please make an appointment to have your child evaluated for the removal of the space maintainer.

Fillings & Crowns

Post-Op Care – Pain:
It is normal for your child to have some soreness in the area they had treatment done. Children’s Tylenol or Motrin should alleviate the pain. If your child is still having difficulties after a day or two, please call the office for a follow up appointment. If the pain is severe, not alleviated by pain medications, or swelling occurs please call as soon as possible to discuss the situation with the doctor.

If your child experiences swelling after treatment, it is likely due to lip biting in the anesthetized area. However, if you do not see teeth marks in the area and the swelling is increasing please call the office as soon as possible.

Lip Biting After Treatments:

Occasionally children will bite themselves in the area they were anesthetized without realizing it. The area can become quite swollen and painful. Your child will need to remain on a soft diet until the area heals to avoid re-injuring themselves. Give Children’s Motrin/Tylenol as needed for the pain.

Children deserve to experience a gentle, caring approach to their dental care. A positive dental experience will help them build confidence and knowledge, setting a great precedent for their future dental health. Your child will always be grateful for the gift of a beautiful, healthy smile.

Dental Anxiety

Q: How does a pediatric dentist help with dental anxiety?
First of all, pediatric dental offices are designed to make children feel comfortable. Pediatric dentists have special training in helping anxious children feel secure during dental treatment. And staff members are people who like children and have chosen to work with them. This combination ensures that most children are calm, comfortable and confident in a pediatric dental office.

Q: How will a pediatric dentist help my child feel comfortable?
Pediatric dentists are trained in many methods to help children feel comfortable with dental treatment. For example, in the “Tell-Show-Do” technique, a pediatric dentist might name a dental instrument, demonstrate the instrument by using it to count your child’s fingers, and then apply the instrument in treatment.

There are many other techniques applied by pediatric dentists to comfort a patient. They include modeling, coaching, distraction and parent participation. But by far the most preferred technique is praise. Every child does something right during a dental visit, and pediatric dentists let children know that.

Q: Should I accompany my child into treatment?
Infants and some young children may feel more confident when parents stay close during treatment. However, with older children, doctor-child communication is often enhanced if parents remain in the reception room.

Q: What if a child misbehaves during treatment?
Occasionally a child’s behavior during treatment requires assertive management to protect him or her from possible injury. Voice control (speaking calmly bur firmly) usually takes care of it. Mild sedation, such as nitrous oxide/oxygen or a sedative, may also benefit an anxious child. If a child is especially fearful, other sedation techniques or general anesthesia may be recommended.