How can we help you?
Most parents have plenty of questions about their children’s healthcare, and we invite your questions and concerns.
We’ve compiled a selection of questions that parents often ask us about our practice, our services, and pediatric dentistry in general. Take a look through and see if your questions are answered here.
If your question isn’t answered here or if you’d like additional information, you’re always welcome to give us a call at 309-827-KIDS(5437) or email us using our convenient online form.
They can be. It depends on a number of factors including how long these habits continue, how often your child engages in the behavior, and how aggressively your child sucks on their thumbs, fingers, or pacifier.
Both thumbsucking and pacifier use are self-soothing behaviors, and sucking is part of a child's natural instinct. In general, most children discontinue these habits between the ages of 2 and 4. Encouragement from parents and peer pressure from other children will both affect how long your child continues the habit. If these habits go on for too long or if your child sucks on their thumb or pacifier too enthusiastically, you may see changes in the shape of the palate, or their teeth may be forced forward or to the side, resulting in problems like an open bite or cross bite.
Some tips to help you discourage thumb sucking and pacifier use as your child gets older:
- Don't scold your child for engaging in the habit; however, do offer praise when you see him or her not sucking a thumb or pacifier.
- Long-standing thumb or pacifier habits can be related to anxiety. Locating the source of the anxiety and correcting it may put an end to the behavior.
- Offer rewards or create a "star chart" for when your child doesn't engage in the behavior during a difficult time.
If your child has difficulty breaking the habit even with rewards and encouragement, talk to Dr. Dietz. We have other options available to help kids break the habit before permanent damage is done to their teeth.
If your child is playing sports, especially sports where the potential to be hit by a ball or another player is present, a mouthguard should be considered a necessary piece of equipment. According to the American Dental Association, about 10 to 20% of all sports-related injuries involve the mouth or face. At our office, we see a lot of sports-related injuries in which teeth are knocked out or knocked loose. Since these injuries often involve permanent teeth and can lead to the need for dental reconstruction, we'd like to help our patients avoid injury whenever possible.
Talk to Dr. Greg about the types of mouthguards that are available for children who play sports. He'll work with you to help you find the one that's right for your child and best fits your family's needs.
If your child does suffer a blow to the face, call our office right away at 309-827-KIDS(5437). Prompt dental treatment will help prevent permanent damage.
A pediatric dentist is a dentist who has chosen to receive additional training and certification in dentistry for children. The benefits of seeing a pediatric dentist include:
- Additional knowledge and training to spot problems with developing teeth
- Experience and skill performing dental procedures on smaller teeth
- Training to manage children's behavior
- Understanding of how to safely use sedation in children
- Experience that allows for better advice regarding thumbsucking, pacifier use, and other concerns that occur in early childhood
- Understanding of how nutrition and healthcare are linked to proper tooth development
Parents today understand the importance of seeing a specialist who is trained in the care of children. Seeing a pediatric dentist is an important part of your child's overall healthcare plan.
Although your child will lose these first teeth, they do serve an important function while they are present. Baby teeth help your child learn how to chew, assist when learning correct speech and diction, hold space in the mouth for adult teeth, and give your child a beautiful, precious smile.
If your child loses one of their baby teeth too early, this is a dental emergency. Problems could occur with the teeth that are developing beneath the gumline or with the current teeth. If your child's baby teeth become damaged or are lost too soon, call the Children's Center for Dentistry at 309-827-KIDS(5437) to schedule a same-day emergency appointment.
Children's Sedation Dentistry
Nitrous oxide, also known as "laughing gas," is a safe, effective sedation option that can be used to help children who are nervous have a pleasant, relaxing, comfortable dental experience.
Oral sedation dentistry offers a higher level of sedation for adults and children who experience dental anxiety or need to be kept still to perform a more extensive dental procedure. If oral sedation is chosen as the right option for your child, Dr. Greg will provide the medication, which is taken by mouth, to your child at the appointment. This medication will calm and relax your child as well as dull the sensations of the dental office.
Dr. Greg will discuss your child's sedation dentistry options with you and provide full instructions on how to correctly take the medication for the best results.
When a child has severe anxiety, sensory issues, or a developmental or health condition that makes it difficult to provide appropriate dental care, or when extensive and complex dental care is necessary, general anesthesia may be appropriate.
If Dr. Greg feels that general anesthesia is appropriate for your child, he will discuss the situation with you to explain how the process works. General anesthesia is not performed here in our dental office but at one of our local hospitals.
Preventive Care for Children
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps remineralize the outside layer of our teeth. Use of fluoride for prevention and control of cavities has been shown to be both SAFE and HIGHLY EFFECTIVE. As part of your child's examination, we'll discuss your child's fluoride exposure. Studies have proven that topical fluoride varnishes professionally applied two times per year can significantly decrease your child's chances of getting cavities.
By following these recommendations, you can reduce the risk of your child developing cavities and tooth decay:
- Before your baby's teeth come in, gently wipe the gums with a damp cloth
- After your baby's teeth come in, use a soft toothbrush and non-fluoride toothpaste to clean their teeth. As your child grows, encourage self-care until your child can brush independently.
- Never allow your child to sleep with a bottle or food.
- Graduate your child to regular cups (not sippy cups) as soon as possible, preferably by 18 months of age.
- Avoid sweets and sticky foods.
- Limit fruit juice to about 4 ounces per day and only serve it in a regular cup, not a bottle.
- Visit the Children's Center for Dentistry for regular checkups and professional cleanings.
Sealants are thin plastic coverings that are "painted" on to your child's teeth and then cured. Once this easy, painless procedure is performed, the sealants can be expected to last for about five to six years.
The chewing surfaces of your child's teeth are full of indentations and grooves. While these grooves make it easier for your child to effectively chew food, they do have a tendency to trap food. Since kids aren't quite as coordinated as adults, it can be difficult for them to remove all the traces of food, plaque, and bacteria from these surfaces, making them a prime location for cavities.
The sealants create a barrier between the surface of your child's teeth and the food they are eating, preventing cavities from developing. They are colored to blend in with your child's teeth, and it is highly unlikely that anyone else will be able to see them.
Until your child's first tooth appears, a quick wipe with a damp washcloth will be all it takes to keep their gums healthy. Once the first tooth arrives, begin brushing using a soft baby toothbrush. At age 2, you can add a small smear of fluoridated toothpaste to the toothbrush and graduate to a pea-sized amount when your child turns 3. If your child is at high-risk for cavities, we'll discuss whether toothpaste should be introduced sooner.
You will need to supervise and assist with brushing until your child is about 8 years old. By this age, most kids have the coordination and the patience to brush their teeth independently (although you should still check in to make sure good habits are being followed). Brushing and flossing habits are a major part of the conversations we will have with you and your child during your examinations, and we will teach and help reinforce good brushing habits.
For most children, we recommend adding a small smear of toothpaste onto the toothbrush at 2 years old, and then increasing to a pea-sized amount from age 3 on up. This helps to control the amount of toothpaste that a child swallows. While it's perfectly fine to swallow a little bit of fluoride, we want to help your child avoid swallowing a large amount of fluoride.
If your child appears to be at a higher risk for developing cavities, we will discuss whether toothpaste should be introduced earlier.