Q. At what age should my child have his/her first dental visit?

A. "First visit by 1st birthday" is the general rule. To prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, usually between 6 and 12 months of age, and certainly no later than his/her 1st birthday.

Q. How important are my child’s baby teeth?

A. Primary, or "baby," teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt.

Q. Can thumbsucking and the use of pacifiers be harmful to my child's teeth?

A. Thumb and pacifier sucking habits that go on for a long period of time can create crowded, crooked teeth or bite problems. If your child is still sucking his/her thumbs or fingers when the permanent teeth arrive or past 3 years of age, a mouth appliance may be recommended by our pediatric dentists. However, most children stop these habits on their own.

Q. When should my child start using toothpaste?

A. When your child is an infant, please clean your child's gums with a cloth and water or with a soft-bristled infant toothbrush. Once the first tooth erupts, use a tiny dot of fluoridated toothpaste on an age-appropriate, soft toothbrush to brush the tooth/teeth twice a day. Once your child reaches age 3, parents can increase the amount of toothpaste, and we advise that you supervise brushing. Use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and make sure children do not swallow excess toothpaste.

Q. What are dental sealants and how do they work?

A. Sealants are clear or shaded plastic applied to the teeth to help keep them cavity-free. Sealants fill in the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, which are hard to clean, and shut out food particles that could get caught and cause cavities. Fast and comfortable to apply, sealants can effectively protect teeth for many years.

Q. How does your office schedule appointments?

A. When time allows, we try our best to accommodate our patients as much as possible when scheduling appointments. We have found that preschool children are better to be seen early in the morning when they are most rested and can have a more positive experience. We are able to work slowly for maximum comfort. Children who have a lot of school work should also be scheduled for morning appointments for these same reasons. Please understand that some appointments may require the child to miss school; however, these are excused absences.

Q. Can I stay with my child during his/her appointment?

A. Parents are always invited to stay with their children! It is important to make the first visit positive and enjoyable. We want your child to enjoy getting to know our doctors and staff and be comfortable at all times. A pleasant visit builds trust and helps put the child at ease during future appointments.

Q. What can I do to help make my child’s appointment positive?

A. Please tell your child that the dentists and staff will explain everything and will answer any questions! Please do not make a big deal out of the visit and refrain from using words that could cause unnecessary fear, such as “needle”, “shot” or “drill.” We are experienced in dealing with children with anxiety and will explain the procedures in a positive, pleasant manner with kid-friendly terminology.

Q. How often should I see a dentist?

A. The American Dental Association (ADA) guidelines recommend visiting a dentist at least twice a year for a check-up and professional cleaning. Our office also recommends a minimum of two visits per year.

Q. What should I expect during my appointment?

A. One of our staff members will compile your medical and dental history during your first visit. We will then examine your teeth and gums, screen you for oral cancer, make X-rays of your teeth as needed and complete a TMJ (temporomandibular or jaw joint) exam. After we review your dental profile, we will discuss a diagnosis with you. If treatment such as a root canal (endodontics), braces (orthodontics) or oral surgery is needed, we will plan to treat you in our office or refer you to a specialist. We will discuss your options for treatment and fee payment and help you determine the best plan to fit your needs.

During regular follow-up visits, we will examine your teeth and gums, screen you for oral cancer, clean your teeth and make plans for treatment, as needed. We will discuss any pain or problems you may be experiencing and answer any questions you may have.

Q. Are payment plans available for my dental treatment?

A. Yes. We accept many types of dental insurance and will process your claim for you upon receipt of your co-payment. We offer a low interest rate payment plan and also accept most major credit cards.

Q. Can the dentist whiten my teeth?

A. There are several methods available for bleaching the teeth: in-office, overnight or daily. One session of in-office bleaching generally lasts one and a half to two hours, and you can read or relax during the treatment. For overnight bleaching, we make an impression of your teeth and create a mouthguard that fits your bite. Each day you fill the mouthguard with a small amount of bleaching gel and wear it overnight or for a few hours during the day. The overnight bleaching process takes approximately two weeks.