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Patients and Parents

In depth information about commonly researched topics

Oral Trauma

Depending on the nature of the trauma – which teeth, baby or permanent – there are several options to consider for oral traumas.

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For parents of a child with a "non-nutritive sucking" habit, we recommend scheduling a chat with Dr. Becky or Dr. Erin. We have some proven strategies to share.

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We frequently consult with parents and children throughout the "Teething Experience" and we have prepared some key information on the topic.

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Girl Scared Cavity 600Px

Liquid "No Drill" Fillings

It's called silver diamine fluoride. For younger children, there is an innovative treatment for cavities: no drilling, no noise, and less trauma.

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Toothpaste Recommendations

The question of which toothpastes offer the best oral care comes up often with parents. Consider the information we've provided here and don't let the advertising fool you!

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Your First Visit

Our entire team is trained to work with young children. We look forward to meeting your child and want to prepare you for what the first visit and check-up will involve.

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Dental X-Rays

The use of x-rays is important for diagnosis and treatment. The risk associated with dental x-ray exposure are lower than undetected and untreated dental problems.

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Acidity and Cavities

The human mouth is a complex part of our body and understanding how cavities form helps parents and kids make the best choices regarding snacks and hygiene.

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Oil Pulling

Oil Pulling

Challenging conventional wisdom is worth pursuing, but alternatives to brushing teeth should always be approached with caution.

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Bad Breath Kid Teeth

Bad Breath

Learn about some of the most common causes of bad breath in children and recommended treatment methods.

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White Fillings Bpa

White Fillings and BPA

Parents have strong feelings about BPAs and for good reason. Where white fillings are concerned, however, there's much more to the story.

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The Battle with Brushing

“My child likes to hold the toothbrush but screams when I brush for her”. Rest assured, parents, you are not alone!

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Click each question for an SHPD answer to each FAQ.
What is a Pediatric Dentist?

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence. A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. This specialty training involves child psychology and development, behavior guidance techniques, treating patients with complex medical histories, and treating patients under sedation and general anesthesia. Pediatric dentists often work very closely with other health care providers to ensure that oral health care needs are integrated with a child's general health care. For more information, please visit the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Why are baby teeth important?

Primary teeth, often called "baby teeth" are very important for a child's growth and development. 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. Baby teeth are important in helping the upper and lower jaws develop properly, and should be maintained as part of a child's overall general health until they are ready to wiggle out. Without baby teeth, not only do children experience difficulty speaking and eating, but the permanent teeth can become delayed in their eruption.

What causes tooth decay?

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria called strep mutans. The strep mutans feed on the food that we eat, and produce acid, which in turn begins to eat away at the tooth. These bacteria require simple sugars to live, which come from food in our diet that either contains sugars (processed candy, snacks, soda or juices), or is broken down into sugars (bread, crackers, pasta, rice, cereal). In addition to feeding on simple sugars, strep mutans thrive when they are in contact with acid. Juice is the largest source of acid in most children's diets. Parents should limit the amount of juice their child drinks to no more than 4-6 ounces per day, and give with a meal.

When should my child come for their first dental appointment?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children see a dentist by their first birthday, or within 6 months of their first tooth coming in (which ever comes first).

What will the dentist do at my child's first visit?

Children under the age of three are usually more comfortable in their parent's lap than in the dental chair. Dr. Becky and Dr. Erin encourage parents to allow their child to stay in their lap to help comfort the child during their first few visits. We will perform a "knee-to-knee" exam where the teeth and gums are examined to evaluate a child's growth and development. Topical fluoride is often applied at this visit. This visit will often include dietary and hygiene recommendations as well. Older children will be encouraged to sit in the dental chair. The first visit includes a full exam, cleaning, x-rays and a fluoride treatment.

Are thumb-sucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child's teeth?

At South Hill Pediatric Dentistry, we recommend stopping thumb and pacifier habits between 18 months and 3 years of age. Excessive sucking on a finger or pacifier can alter the shape of the upper jaw. Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become 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 when the permanent teeth arrive, a mouth appliance may be recommended by your pediatric dentist.

Should my child take gummy vitamins?

Kids need a variety of vitamins and minerals to grow up strong and healthy. So it seems like common sense to have them take a daily vitamin. BUT, it's not that simple. Gummy vitamins have become so popular in the last 10 years but they come with some hidden dangers. The added sugar and gooey texture creates a perfect storm for the formation of a cavity. These vitamins, like any other sticky treat can get stuck in the grooves of teeth for hours, and as the saliva slowly dissolves them, they form a pool of "goo" deep in the pits and fissures. It only takes about 20 minutes for cavity-forming bacteria to start forming destructive acids from these sugars. In addition, these vitamins often taste like candy, and children can easily overdose on them. Acute vitamin toxicity is real, but can be easily prevented by keeping these vitamins out of reach, and by talking to your child's pediatrician about whether or not they even need to take a daily vitamin. Most children can get their nutritional requirements from natural dietary sources.

At South Hill Pediatric Dentistry, we recommend:

1. Use chewable vitamins, to avoid the sticky-ness

2. Make sure these vitamins are given with a meal, where other food can help prevent sticky vitamins from becoming trapped in teeth.

3. Brush your child's teeth after a vitamin has been given.

What is a dental sealant?

A sealant is a clear or tooth colored polish that is painted on the chewing surface of a primary or permanent molar tooth. It is a very thin layer that fills in the grooves and crevices to form a barrier between the food and bacteria found in the mouth. Often times brushing alone is not enough to adequately clean the food and plaque from the grooves in the teeth. These bases of these grooves may be too narrow for the bristles on the toothbrush to reach, making it difficult to remove every bit of food. Sealants are a non-invasive procedure and are one of the most effective ways to prevent tooth decay.

What is the difference between silver and white fillings?

Composite (tooth colored), and amalgam (silver) restorations are both reliable, strong choices to restore teeth. Composite is composed of mixture of glass or quartz filler in a resin medium that produces a tooth-colored filling. Composite is the material of choice for any restoration on a front tooth, and may be done on back teeth as well. For composite to be successful, it must be placed on a dry tooth to ensure proper adhesion of the material to the tooth.

Amalgam is a mixture of several types of metals including elemental mercury, silver, tin, copper and possibly other metallic elements. The mercury in amalgam combines with other metals to render it stable and safe for use in filling teeth. Amalgam fillings, however, can be placed on a moist or dry surface. While a dentist is often able to dry your child's tooth in order to place a composite filling, there may be times when it is difficult to fully dry a tooth. In these situations, amalgam may be recommended.

Why does fluoride benefit my child's teeth?

Fluoride benefits teeth in three ways: It can act in a topical way to re-mineralize teeth that have begun to be weakened by decay. It can also act to strengthen teeth, making them less susceptible to decay. Finally, it works to inhibit the bacteria that cause decay. Fluoride found in toothpaste or a fluoride rinse can act in all of these ways. When fluoride is given as a daily supplement, it can be incorporated into the structure of the developing permanent tooth to make it stronger and more resistant to decay. Fluoride supplements are recommended for children who do not have fluoride in their water supply.

How long should my child take their fluoride supplements?

Children are encouraged to take their fluoride supplements until the crowns of the permanent teeth have finished hardening. This usually occurs between the ages of 12-13.

When should I begin brushing my child's teeth? Which toothpaste do you recommend?

The sooner the better! When the first teeth erupt, we recommend that you clean your child's gums with a soft infant toothbrush twice a day. For children under 3 years old, use a smear of fluoridated toothpaste which is about the size of a grain of rice. For children over 3, a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste should be used. Remember that most children under 7 years of age do not have the dexterity to brush their teeth effectively, so work with your child to teach good brushing habits. Many children still need their parents to help them brush at ages 5,6 and 7 in order to remove all the plaque.

How safe are dental X-rays?

There is very little risk in dental X-rays. Pediatric dentists are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Lead aprons and high-speed film are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation. At South Hill Pediatric Dentistry, we use digital radiography, which drastically limits the amount of radiation a child is exposed to as compared to traditional film x-rays. A child receives more radiation being outside on a sunny day for 15 minutes than he/she would from dental x-rays taken at a check-up.

What can I do to keep my child's teeth healthy?

The best thing parents can do is to encourage healthy eating habits and routine brushing and flossing. Between-meal snacks should be limited so that a child does not continuously snack throughout the day. Sticky foods such as fruit snacks and gummy candies should be avoided, as they are not easily brushed out of teeth, and lead to cavities. Snacks including string cheese, fresh fruits or vegetables should be encouraged. Juice consumption should be limited to no more than 4-6 ounces per day, and given only at mealtimes. Many parents dilute juice with water, but it is important to remember that diluted juice still contains sugar, but most importantly, acid. Parents should maintain a regular brushing schedule of twice a day (i.e. after breakfast and before bed). As soon as the 2-year molars erupt, parents can floss between the teeth to prevent cavities from forming in these areas.

What can you tell me about mouthguards?

Properly designed and custom fabricated mouthguards are essential in the prevention of athletic injuries and reducing the incidence of concussions. They must be protective, comfortable, resilient, tear resistant, tasteless, and most importantly, must have sufficient thickness in critical areas to effectively absorb impact energy.

Custom mouthguards are designed by the dentist. They are made by taking an impression of your child's mouth, making a stone cast of the teeth and adapting a thermoplastic material over the teeth. It is then trimmed to ensure a correct and comfortable fit.

We offer solid and dual colored mouth guard material so your smile can reflect your school spirit!

What are your thoughts on intraoral piercings?

"My son/daughter wants to get their tongue pierced…"

Long gone are the days when a simple pierced ear satisfied someone's need to express their individuality. Lip, nose, tongue, eyebrow, among other locations are swiftly gaining popularity in today's young culture, and are now considered less of a rebellious expression than a simple fashion statement. Many employers are amending their employee handbooks to allow for "tasteful" facial piercings, which may include a simple nose stud, or multiple ear piercings. Traditional parental objections aside, many people are unaware of the dental consequences (both short and long term) associated with piercings located in and around the mouth.

Intraoral jewelry (tongue and lip piercings) leads to increased levels of plaque, gingival inflammation, gingival recession, higher incidence of cavities, changes in speech and metal allergy. Tongue "barbells" may lead to more serious outcomes including fracture of the teeth, and tissue loss severe enough to threaten loss of permanent teeth. Further, because the tongue is full of blood vessels and nerve endings, piercing it risks excessive bleeding and nerve damage. There have been life-threatening reactions reported including bleeding, infections in the heart and airway obstruction.

Discussing these risks with your child beforehand is the most effective way to prevent unexpected piercings, and may help them discover other ways to express their personalities.