Ask Your Child's Dentist
Children's Dental Q&A
We know parents do not have all the answers. Moms and dads ask us a ton of questions about dental procedures, as well as how to maintain great oral hygiene for their kids.
The following are the questions we have been asked most. Click any question to navigate directly to the answer, most have a short video answering the questions as well.
If you have any questions, let us know and we will answer them for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Of course! Not only do we allow parents to stay with their kids during exams and most treatments, we encourage it. We have found that having a parent stay with their child lessens the anxiety for both the child, as well as the parent. Younger patients will often lay in their parent's lap during the exam to provide the most soothing experience.
Also, being with your child during their dental appointment allows the dentist and parent to discuss their child's dental health and provide realtime feedback and tips.
The only exception is during General Anesthesia. Parents are able to be with their child when they fall asleep and wake up, but not during treatment. The treatment room is small and with the dentist, dental assistant and the anesthesiologist, the room is just too crowded to provide the safest environment for your child. During this time, you are asked to wait in the lobby. The office staff will bring you updates during treatment.
Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) is used to help children relax during dental treatment. While on Nitrous, your child's hands and feet may feel tingly and they may feel like they are floating. If children are very tired, sometimes they do nap while on N2O. After the dental treatment, your child will be placed on 100% Oxygen which flushes out the Nitrous within about 5 minutes so that your child feels no lasting effects.
Moderate (conscious) sedation can help an anxious or fearful child relax during their dental treatment. Your child will drink a liquid medication in the office and wait 30-60 minutes for it to take effect. During this time, you will wait with your child in our waiting area. When your child is brought to their treatment room, they will receive a combination of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and oxygen to help them further relax. Conscious sedation is not intended to make a child fall completely asleep, but some children fall asleep secondary to being relaxed. They are easily arousable at any point during the procedure.
During a moderate (conscious) sedation appointment your child’s vital signs are monitored at all times. This includes their oxygen saturation, blood pressure and heart rate. A member of our team is always present with your child during your child’s moderate (conscious) sedation appointment.
Your child will feel the lingering effects of the medications for up to 6 or 7 hours. During this time your child will need to be under the direct supervision of you or another adult. They cannot go to school or daycare. They may feel groggy or tired and want to take a nap for several hours. This is normal but be sure to wake them every 45-60 minutes to give them fluids.
They may eat after the appointment, but we recommend starting with clear liquids followed by soft foods such as Jell-O or applesauce. Greasy foods and dairy products (milk, yogurt, ice cream) should be avoided immediately following the procedure, as they may cause them to feel sick to their stomach. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any foods that have ever given you heartburn.
For children who are too young for moderate (conscious) sedation (under 3 years), have very extensive dental treatment needs, or have severe dental anxiety, sometimes general anesthesia is recommended. During in-office general anesthesia appointments, we work with a board-certified dental anesthesiologist who administers the anesthesia.
During this appointment, your child is completely asleep, and all necessary dental treatment will be completed at one time. The dental anesthesiologist's only job is to make sure that your child is safe and comfortable throughout the procedure. This allows your pediatric dentist to concentrate solely on your child's dental needs while the anesthesiologist concentrates on your child's sedation.
If your child is scheduled for a moderate (conscious) sedation or general anesthesia appointment they must fast prior to the appointment according to these guidelines:
- They may have a full meal up to 8 hours prior to the procedure.
- They may have non-human milk, formula or a light meal (such as toast) up to 6 hours prior to the procedure.
- They may have breastmilk up to 4 hours prior to the procedure.
- They may have clear liquids (liquids you can see through) up to 2 hours prior to the procedure.
For your child’s safety their appointment will be canceled if they have not followed these guidelines.
Your child may feel sleepy for several hours after their general anesthesia appointment. They should stay inside for the remainder of the day and avoid activities that require balance or coordination (biking, swimming, playgrounds, sports).
Your child may start drinking clear liquids like water or sports drinks immediately following the appointment. Solid foods may be slowly introduced throughout the day. Avoid feeding your child meat and dairy for at least 2-3 hours.
Some side effects of general anesthesia may include a slight fever, nausea or vomiting. If any of these occur, call our office and continue to drink clear liquids. Our dentists will review with you when pain medications may be taken.
We only offer composite (tooth-colored) fillings. we only use amalgam (silver) fillings.
A baby tooth may need a crown if the tooth is missing a significant amount of its structure due to a large cavity or fracture. Dental crowns restore the tooth’s natural form and function and protect it from further breakdown. We offer white (zirconia) crowns as well as silver (stainless steel) crowns.
Your child's gums may be sore after a crown is placed. If they are experiencing any discomfort you may give them Tylenol or Motrin and encourage them to eat soft foods until the discomfort subsides. Crowns should be brushed and flossed just like natural teeth. Brush your child’s crowns gently but thoroughly twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush. It is important to avoid sticky foods which can dislodge the crown.
Many children experience no discomfort at all following a dental extraction, commonly referred to as having a tooth pulled. Some children may experience mild pain or soreness which may last 1-2 days. This can be alleviated by Tylenol or Motrin but your dentist will discuss with you what is appropriate for your child.
We recommend a soft food diet for the first day or two following an extraction (pasta, rice, applesauce etc.). Avoid drinking high temperature liquids as they may cause an increase in blood flow and bleeding at the extraction site.
If a baby tooth is lost prematurely sometimes a space maintainer or spacer is recommended. Space maintainers help preserve space in your child's mouth for their permanent teeth to come in properly in the future. A space maintainer is custom fit to your child's mouth and may be on just one side (unilateral) or span both sides of the mouth (bilateral), depending on your child’s specific needs.
Space maintainers protect your child's teeth by keeping them in their original position. Most children adjust to them easily within a few days. In most cases a space maintainer will stay in your child's mouth for several years, until the permanent tooth comes in. Our dentists will evaluate your child's space maintainer at each appointment and recommend it be removed when it is appropriate.
If your child has received local anesthesia to complete their dental work their lips, cheeks, and tongue will remain anesthetized (numb) for a few hours following their appointment. Because they cannot feel these areas, sometimes children will accidentally bite them which causes them to swell. It is very important to monitor your child closely after their dental appointment and remind them not to suck, bite or chew on their lips, cheeks or tongue. Cold liquids, ice packs, or frozen treats (popsicles) will help provide pain relief if this occurs. If your child has any swelling following their dental appointment, please contact our office so it can be evaluated.
Monitoring your child’s diet and oral hygiene are important factors in preventing dental decay. We recommend helping your child brush their teeth twice a day and floss any teeth that are touching nightly. A good rule of thumb is if your child can cut meat into perfect squares they likely have the manual dexterity to start brushing and flossing on their own.
When your child is ready for this transition, we recommend you continue to supervise their oral hygiene. After nighttime brushing and flossing, only allow your child to have water before bed. Never allow your child to sleep with juice or milk overnight. Frequent sipping on sweet drinks (juice, soda, sports drinks) can increase your risk of getting cavities. Try to limit these types of beverages as much as possible. Drinking water with meals or after snacks helps wash off the food and sugars from teeth and is especially important if your child is drinking sugary beverages.
While breastmilk alone does not cause cavities, after your child’s teeth have erupted breastfeeding in combination with carbohydrates and sugars can cause cavities. It is important to begin brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they come in.