Click questions below to reveal the answer.
Why choose a pediatric dentist?
You likely take your child to a pediatrician-- a medical specialist who has undergone additional training for providing healthcare to children. A pediatric dentist has typically undergone 10+ years of training, including undergraduate college (four years,) dental school (four years,) and a pediatric residency (2-3 years.) The pediatric dental residency provides important and extensive training in child psychology and behavior management, pediatric pharmacology, appropriate restorative dental care, working with individuals with special healthcare needs, and advanced care such as sedation and general anesthesia. A pediatric dentist is ultimately an advocate for children and has been appropriately trained to work with our special little people!
When should my child have their first dental visit?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends a child have their first dental visit when their first tooth erupts, or no later than their first birthday. We understand a child this age is incapable of fully cooperating for this appointment, and our staff will guide you and your child through this experience. An infant will likely have their teeth brushed with an ultra-soft toothbrush, and Dr. Derek will do a knee-to-knee exam with the parent/caregiver leaning the child into his lap. After the exam and with the parent’s permission, a topical fluoride varnish will be applied to the child’s teeth to help strengthen areas of enamel that may be softening and prone to decay.
Aren’t they just baby teeth?
This is a great question and also an important question! This could also be a huge discussion, so we will try to keep it simple. Baby (primary) teeth are very important! First, they allow children to chew and digest food properly. Second, they facilitate speech development. Studies have shown the front teeth are very important in sounds such as “s.” Finally, baby teeth help hold space for the developing permanent teeth that will replace them. If a baby tooth is prematurely lost, there is a good possibility that other teeth will move and cause orthodontic problems such as crowding.
Why should my child have a fluoride treatment? Isn’t fluoride poisonous?
Fluoride has been shown to be one of the most effective ways of reducing tooth decay. Fluoride helps strengthen areas of enamel that have been weakened. In fact, early signs of tooth decay can be reversed with topical fluoride treatments and appropriate home hygiene! Like most any substance, including water, ingestion of too much can be hazardous to one’s health. Our office uses a fluoride varnish. This application technique has been shown to be more effective at reversing dental decay than typical fluoride applications, such as the foam-filled trays that are held in the mouth for several minutes. Also, the fluoride varnish is released very slowly into the body, and it is therefore safer than traditional fluoride trays. While our office firmly believes in the safety and efficacy of topical fluoride, we also understand that parents, along with their doctor, have the right to choose the appropriate treatment for their child. If you desire your child not receive topical fluoride, please inform our staff prior to your child’s hygiene appointment.
How safe are dental x-rays?
Technology has made dentistry safer and more fun! Our office believes and practices the principle advocated by the American Dental Association—“ALARA.” This acronym stands for “As Low As Reasonably Achievable.” How do we do this? First, we use an x-ray producing machine that is literally one of the safest on the market. Studies have shown this unit frequently does not register ANY radiation emission when measured by radiation monitors. In fact, at our Colorado altitude, you will likely be exposed to more radiation on the walk to your car after your appointment than your child will be exposed to during their x-ray exam. Second, we ensure your child is covered in appropriate lead gowns. All vital, developing organs are protected. Third, we will prescribe x-rays that are appropriate for each individual patient. If we feel your child’s exam will benefit from x-rays, we will recommend them. If not, we may skip an appointment and then re-evaluate at their next visit. Finally, we follow recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Most children will have their first x-rays around age 3, unless we suspect there is active decay or there is a known history of dental trauma. We understand parents are concerned about exposing their children to radiation. Rest assured we will never recommend x-rays that Dr. Derek wouldn’t prescribe for his own child!
Do you use fillings with mercury, aka amalgam fillings?
Our office does not use fillings containing mercury. Studies have shown that traditional amalgam fillings (with mercury) are NOT harmful. However, Dr. Derek feels that there are filling materials available that are better than traditional, amalgam fillings. These fillings are usually made of a resin-composite material and are tooth-colored. Some of them slowly release fluoride which will help prevent future cavities.
Are parents allowed to accompany their child?
We encourage parents to accompany their child! We use an “open” style hygiene bay, which encourages children to be brave during their dental appointment while they observe other children enjoying their dental visit. There are benches available in the bay for a parent to accompany their child. Unfortunately, our hygiene bay will only accommodate one parent per child. We also welcome an individual parent into our operative rooms. Other parents and/or other children are not permitted during operative appointments, so please plan accordingly. Due to the nature of the appointment, parents are not allowed into rooms during a sedation procedure. We want Dr. Derek and his staff to remain focused on your child’s safety without any distractions.
Will my child be restrained during an appointment? I have heard about “papoose” blankets!
Rest assured your child will never be restrained unless it is medically necessary and we have your written or verbal consent. Dr. Derek will not provide care to a child that he would not provide to his own child. In the rare situation where we require a papoose blanket (medical restraint/stabilization device,) Dr. Derek will ask a parent or caregiver be present in the room.
Is nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”) safe?
Nitrous oxide is one of the safest ways to alleviate a child’s anxiety. The average oxygen concentration in the air is about 21%. We have an even lower concentration at our altitude in Colorado Springs. Our machines are built so that the absolute lowest concentration of oxygen we can administer is 30%. This means that even at this minimum allowable amount, your child will be breathing more oxygen than the rest of us! We do recommend you limit your child’s food intake immediately prior to an appointment using nitrous oxide, as a possible side effect is nausea.