Pediatric Dentistry in Abilene, TX
We love to be considered a family friendly dentist office, from our fun play area for children who are waiting, to our dentists who specialize in caring for the needs of your child. Our Pediatric Dentistry staff are trained specifically to help the children feel comfortable, have fun and be educated. The staff knows exactly how to explain procedures in a way that a child can understand and in a way that would alleviate discomfort and fear. The staff also knows how to explain home care to children and parents, so that everyone is well informed about proper dental care, especially as the child is growing.
How to Prevent Cavities?
Children should have their first visit when they are about 1 year old and usually our young patients stay with us until they are ready to graduate high school, then they graduate to being treated by a general dentist. Our goal in our Abilene, TX pediatric dental office is to help prevent cavities, instead of having to treat them after they show up. We work very hard to educate both the children and their parents or guardians about the current best practices for prevention.
What Can You Expect For Your Child’s Dental Care
Caring for a child’s dental needs requires special procedures, and special care. We provide many services and procedures to help your children grow up with the healthiest teeth and brightest smile. Following is an explanation of each.
We encourage the first visit to our pediatric dentist here in our Abilene, TX location to be around your child’s first birthday. This is in agreement with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
Our first goal in the visit is to make the experience as positive and enjoyable as possible, because this will build trust and help lay groundwork to keep the child at ease for future visits. The child who is old enough to talk should be allowed to ask as many questions as he or she wants. The dentist and the staff will explain procedures not only in a way that the child will understand, but also in a way that will alleviate fear and anxiety. Even for children who cannot talk yet, the dentist and staff will communicate and work in such a way as to help the child have the best experience possible.
As a parent you can do a lot to alleviate fears and anxiety before the first visit (and any thereafter). Here are some recommendations for how to prepare your child for their visit:
- Avoid saying “It won’t hurt.”
- Avoid words like “needle” and “drill”.
- Play dentist at home.
- Read books about going to the dentist.
- Let the dental staff know who their favorite character is whether super hero or cartoon character.
- Inform our staff if your child has special needs ahead of time.
- Let our staff know if you have any specific concerns about your child’s teeth or oral health.
At the first visit we will discuss the following:
- Preventative home care: brushing, flossing, diet and proper use of fluorides
- Caries (cavities) risk assessment
- Providing information about Early Childhood Caries, which may occur due to inappropriate habits in nursing or sippy cup usage
- Most up to date facts about finger, thumb and pacifier habits
- Prevention of injuries to the mouth and teeth
- Information about growth and development
Adolescent Dental Care
For adolescents, we are aware that self image is very important and know that decaying and/or poorly aligned teeth may make them feel poorly about themselves. We will guide them in a sensitive and caring manner, to discuss improving their teeth as well as what they can do themselves to improve and maintain a healthier smile during their years in high school. If we feel it is necessary, we will provide information regarding various oral health issues such as: oral piercings, tobacco use, wisdom teeth, missing teeth and sealants.
Parents And Guardians Participation In Treatment
We are happy to have you accompany your child during the first exam, this will keep your child at ease and build your child’s trust in us, as well your trust in our capabilities. After the first exam, we encourage you to allow us to take care of your child without your presence, as that will further their trust in our care. If you feel strongly that you want to be with us, you are welcome to accompany your child. However, siblings will have to stay in the waiting area, for the duration of your child’s examination and/or treatment.
Why Take Care Of Primary (Baby) Teeth
Apart from scoring a dollar or two from the “tooth fairy” after losing them, primary teeth hold much greater importance as a child grows and develops. Maintaining their health is of utmost importance to our pediatric dental staff.
The effects of the pain of decaying teeth can affect the entirety of a child’s life. They are distracted by the pain and cannot focus on their schoolwork or enjoying life. It hurts their performance at school, as well as social relationships, laying a poor foundation for growth, mentally and emotionally.
Healthy primary teeth provide the following benefits:
- Allow your child to chew properly
- Aid in speech development
- Maintain space for permanent teeth
- Maintain general health, as mouth disease can endanger the rest of the body.
- Provide self-confidence as a healthy smile can make a child feel good about how he or she looks
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
The old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” holds very true for dental care. Preventing dental disease and decay is much easier and much more beneficial than trying to cure and repair damage done by poor dental habits.
How Often Should My Child See The Dentist?
It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry to have a check up at least twice a year, more for those who show signs of poor oral hygiene, increased risks of tooth decay and unusual growth patterns. After we do our evaluation, we will provide recommendations frequency of visits.
Why Do My Children Have to Visit Twice A Year When They Have Never Had A Cavity
If your child has been visiting according to schedule, and has not had a cavity, then the regular treatments are doing their job. The cleanings help remove debris from the gums where they cause decay. Fluoride treatments renew the fluoride content in the enamel to aid in strengthening the teeth which prevents cavities. Hygiene instructions for your child reinforces good home care habits.
Dental visits are not only about tooth decay. We also assess growth and development, finding issues that will have a long term effect on your child’s oral health, when their permanent teeth come in. We want to aid in a lifetime of good oral health.
Will My Child Have X-rays At Every Appointment?
No, we only do X-rays as necessary for assessment of tooth decay or dental abnormalities. As per the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, children with high risk of tooth decay should get X-rays every six months, and less frequently for children with lower risk. Children’s mouths grow and change rapidly along with the rest of their bodies, that’s why they need X-rays more frequently than adults. X-rays show more than just cavities, so even if your child has never had cavities, they still need to have X-rays to survey adult teeth that haven’t come in yet, to diagnose bone diseases, to evaluate injuries or plan orthodontic treatments. X-rays help prevent more expensive treatments in the future. Current use of low-radiation digital X-rays significantly reduces any risks related to X-ray exposure. For additional safety, the technician will place a lead body apron and shield over your child. The equipment filters out unnecessary X-rays and restricts the beam to only the target area.
How Can I Help My Child Maintain Good Oral Health At Home?
- Avoid frequent snacking
- Floss once a day
- Brush twice a day
- Apply sealants as necessary
- Assure proper fluoride levels, through drinking water, dental products and supplements
Conditions Unique To Children
Early Childhood Tooth Decay
Early Childhood Tooth Decay (“baby bottle tooth decay”) is a very serious condition that occurs in children younger than 5. It is caused by prolonged exposure of an infant’s teeth to sugar rich liquids, such as milk (breast milk included), formula, fruit juices and other sweetened drinks. The sugary liquid pools around the teeth, allowing bacteria to grow, which starts the decaying process.
This is a serious condition that may cause a child to lose their teeth sooner than they should. It can cause a lot of pain and inhibit a child’s eating or proper chewing. The start of early childhood tooth decay can be seen as chalky white spots on the child’s upper front teeth. Prevention is the best measure against this condition.
- Put the infant to bed for nighttime or a nap with only clear, plain water in their bottle. Slowly diluting the favorite naptime or bedtime drink with water, will eventually help the child accept a bottle of plain water.
- After feeding, using a damp washcloth or gauze pad, wipe the infants teeth to remove any remaining residue. Position the child in such a way, that the mouth is easily accessible and the child is comfortable, such as laying on a dressing table, bed or floor.
- Brush your child’s teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste
- Limit fruit juices, sweetened drinks, milk and soda
Thumb, Finger and Pacifier Sucking
For children under 2 years of age, thumb, finger or pacifier sucking is completely normal as it allows the child to relax and feel security. Between ages 2 and 4 it is a relatively harmless habit. If it continues on after 4 years of age, especially as permanent teeth are coming in, the habit can cause crooked teeth or bite problems. At some time, you will have to start encouraging your child to not suck on their thumb or fingers or use a pacifier, here’s some tips for how:
- Don’t scold them when they are doing it, but praise them when they are not
- Be sure to get to the root of the insecurity and discomfort, rather than trying to stop the habit
- Reward the child for not sucking during difficult times, like when parents are not around.
- Allow the dentist or doctor to explain to them what could happen if they don’t stop sucking
- Devise a reward plan where the child will receive something very special after a length of time without sucking their thumb.