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Frequently asked questions about children's dental health ?

Here are some common questions

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How do I prevent tooth decay?

Tooth decay can be prevented with a combination of healthy diet, proper daily teeth cleaning and regular dental hygiene visits. Establish a relationship with a dentist around your child’s first birthday, so the dentist can monitor your child’s dental health and help you prevent tooth decay. At home, be sure your child brushes after breakfast and before bedtime every day for at least two minutes. Limit your child’s intake of sugary food and drinks, and starchy, refined carbohydrates.

Flossing is important when adjacent teeth are in contact. Bring your child to the dentist office for regular dental check-ups for fluoride treatments and dental sealants as an extra layer of protection.

Get more tips on how to prevent tooth decay

What foods cause cavities?

Foods high in sugars and starches feed the plaque that can cause tooth decay. Sticky candies like lollipops, caramels and jelly beans are particularly harmful, but cookies, chips and other starches can be equally harmful because they break down into simple sugars. Carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks and fruit juice contain lots of sugar and acids that can wear away tooth enamel.

Also, note, fruit and other foods can be healthy to eat, but also contains large amounts of natural sugar which can lead to dental cavities. Encourage your child to brush or wash their mouth out with water after consuming any of these foods.

Learn more about how to prevent cavities

What is a dental sealant and who should get it?

A dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating applied to teeth with ridges and grooves, typically the molar teeth. Bacteria and bits of food can collect in the pits and cracks—or fissures—in the teeth. These are areas where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. A sealant helps protect the chewing surfaces of adult molars against decay.

Sealants are recommended for children with high risk of decay as soon as adult molars come in, or “erupt.” Sealants are typically placed on the six-year and twelve-year molars. Dental sealants can partially wear off or come away over time, so it is important to keep up with regular dental visits so that the dentist can monitor wear and reapply as necessary.

Sealants are recommended by dentists because they are extremely effective. In fact, the CDC recently found that sealants prevent 80 percent of cavities in molars. Many cavities occur in molars, so protecting those teeth is critical.

Learn more about dental sealants

Why should I fill cavities on baby teeth?

There are two reasons why restoring cavities on baby teeth is important.

(1) Untreated decay in a single tooth can harbor bacteria which can affect nearby teeth and, if left untreated, may affect the permanent tooth developing beneath the baby tooth. This can lead to pain, infection, tooth loss and gum disease and other serious health conditions.

(2) In addition, baby teeth fulfill very important growth functions for kids. They help children develop proper chewing habits, speech and, most importantly, they hold the space for developing adult teeth. If kids lose baby teeth prematurely due to cavities, this may impact the ability of the adult teeth to come in (“erupt”) and create a future complications with tooth alignment and function – potentially requiring orthodontic care to correct.

Learn more about children's cavities and fillings

How safe are dental X-rays?

Dental x-rays are among the safest medical x-rays to receive. In fact, children are exposed to more radiation just walking outside in the sun than from an x-ray administered in a dentist’s office. Advances in dental x-ray technology have made the beams from x-rays extremely focused, limiting nearly all scatter radiation. In our practice, we use state of the art equipment designed for the safety of all of our patients. Talk to your dentist about any concerns you may have.

Learn more about dental x-rays for children

Are thumb-sucking and/or pacifiers harmful for a child's teeth?

They can be. Vigorous thumb-sucking, extensive pacifier use and prolonged use of baby bottles can negatively impact teeth alignment and the healthy growth of a child’s mouth. Talk to your dentist for tips on how to encourage your child to kick the sucking habit.

What should I use to clean my baby's gums and prepare for teeth?

You can clean your baby’s teeth with a small, soft bristle toothbrush, scrubbing each tooth surface gently and thoroughly. If the teeth have not yet erupted, use a clean, soft cloth to wipe your child’s gums after each feeding.

Learn more about caring for your child's teeth:

Dental health timeline
9 tips to prevent tooth decay
Regular dental cleanings and exams

Toothpaste: When should we begin using it and how much should we use?

Toothpaste can be used from the appearance of your baby’s first tooth. Choose a toothpaste specifically formulated for the age of your child. Child appropriate dental hygiene products (toothpaste, mouth rinse) have lower fluoride levels and come in flavors that kids enjoy. At the beginning, use no more than the length of a grain of rice because babies don’t know how to expectorate on demand. You can work up to a pea-sized portion as your toddler grows.

Your child's dental health timeline

How often does my child need to see the dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children should first see the dentist by one year (12 months) of age. Thereafter, children should see the dentist every six months unless otherwise directed by your dentist.

Learn more:

Regular dental cleanings and exams
Your child's dental health timeline

What does fluoride do for my child’s teeth?

Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens the enamel covering your teeth. Enamel is the white part of your teeth and the strongest material in the human body. Each day, the enamel goes through a process of demineralization, as acid-creating bacteria eat away at the surface of the teeth and fluoride helps rebuild the tooth’s protective mineral layer.

Tap water and tooth paste may serve as sources of fluoride for children to facilitate remineralization. In addition, we recommend fluoride treatments to help strengthen the enamel of both primary and permanent teeth. Our dentists will evaluate your child and may recommend fluoride varnish during a hygiene visit to coat your child’s teeth with a dose of concentrated fluoride. The purpose of this fluoride application is to help protect and re-mineralize areas of a tooth that may be at risk of developing decay.

Learn more about the importance of fluoride for preventing tooth decay

Why is my child being recommended for general anesthesia?

General anesthesia for dentistry is necessary when a child will not be able to cooperate for an extensive dental procedures. General anesthesia is a controlled state of unconsciousness that permits a child to have all of their dental treatment completed in one visit with no recollection of the procedure. Select practices offer general anesthesia performed on location by a licensed anesthesiologist.

We are committed to helping families establish lifelong dental health, and we want children to have positive experiences with the dentist at early ages so kids can have optimal dental health as they grow into adulthood. That is why our dentists work with parents to find the dental sedation options that will best meet their child’s dental and developmental needs.

Learn more about dental sedation options for children

When to use local anesthesia for children?

The best choice of dental sedation or anesthesia for kids depends on several factors including the child’s age, temperament, and the amount of treatment required. Local anesthetics like lidocaine can be applied topically or injected into the gums to numb an area of the mouth.

Under the influence of local anesthetic, the area of the mouth anesthetized will not experience any sensation of pain. With use of local anesthetics, the patient is fully conscious and although, the child should not feel pain, they may still experience an element of anxiety associated with the operative

Learn more about the full spectrum of dental sedation for children

When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?

Your child should visit the dentist in the time frame between the eruption of their first tooth (around six months of age), and their first birthday (12 months of age).

Learn more:

Your child's dental health timeline
Preventing childhood tooth decay

What dental care is covered by Medicaid?

Medicaid generally covers all needed preventive and operative dental care for children from six months to 20 years of age.

This includes twice annual dental cleanings, exams and x-rays plus fluoride treatments and sealants, fillings, crowns, spacers and other treatment that may be required to maintain or restore dental health.

What should I do if my child has a toothache?

A toothache can stem from a number of factors. Often, the toothache is caused by a cavity or an injury to the tooth – both situations may require dental treatment.

If your child has a toothache or trauma (injury) to a tooth, please contact your dentist as soon as possible so your child can be evaluated and proper steps can be taken to address your child’s specific dental needs.

Frequently asked questions about children's orthodontics?

Can’t find the answer you’re looking for?
Give us a call (888) 570-6991

Do you have colors for braces brackets?

Of course! We have a full spectrum of colors to choose from. At each visit, patients can switch colors to suit their mood – some choose team colors, some prefer seasonal tones, other kids even opt for a different color on every tooth!

Learn more about different types of orthodontic braces

How do I care for teeth in braces?

Proper dental care and hygiene is extra important while you have braces because it is harder to keep the mouth clean. We recommend frequent rinsing with water to remove food particles, brushing after every meal and daily flossing. Brush along the gum line of each tooth and then above, below and on top of each bracket. Our orthodontist will demonstrate the best techniques for brushing and flossing and will point out any spots that are being missed at each visit.

Do braces hurt?

Yes, they can, but not for long. Braces, wires, and the elastics around brackets are adjusted regularly throughout the course of treatment. Normally soon after an adjustment, there can be some discomfort. This condition typically lasts for just a few days. We supply dental wax to cover up any protruding hardware that is causing discomfort. If you or your child is experiencing discomfort lasting more than a few days, you should contact your orthodontist to discuss.

Learn more about caring for teeth with braces

What should I expect at an orthodontic evaluation?

At your child’s first visit to the orthodontist, the doctor will examine your child’s mouth for indications of problems with spacing and alignment that could have negative consequences if not addressed with orthodontic treatment. The orthodontist will be looking for problems with your child’s bite, or the relationship between their upper and lower jaws, and how the teeth are spaced along the jaws. They will take X-rays and discuss findings, treatment plans and payment options if applicable.

Learn More about:

The benefits of braces
Affordable braces for children

Do I still have to get my teeth cleaned by the dentist during orthodontic treatment?

Yes. It is especially important to keep up with regular cleanings when you have braces. Even orthodontic patients who take great care of their teeth are likely to experience higher levels of plaque build-up. Kids with braces need to get dental cleanings and exams every six months or more as needed to keep the patients oral hygiene at its best.

Learn more about caring for teeth with braces

What foods should my child avoid with braces?

Hard or crunchy foods can damage the braces appliances, so things like ice cubes, nuts, hard bread crusts, popcorn and even carrot sticks should be avoided. Sticky and gooey foods like caramel, taffy and many candies are also not good at all for braces because they can pull and break a wire or a bracket. Generally, foods high in sugar, starch and acidity should be limited throughout the course of orthodontic treatment. These foods contribute to tooth decay and since it’s harder to keep the mouth clean with braces, it’s best to be extra careful about what you eat. Kids with braces should rinse with water frequently, especially after any sugary foods or drinks.

Learn more about caring for braces

At what age should my child be seen by an orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children be screened by an orthodontist no later than age seven. Early screening affords the greatest flexibility for treatment plans.

Learn more about your child's dental health timeline.
Learn more about the benefits of braces for children.

What happens after my braces come off?

First we’ll celebrate your winning smile and compare your before and after photos! Then, you will be custom-fitted for a retainer. Although finishing braces is very exciting, teeth have good memories, and they will attempt to revert to their former positioning. This is why we monitor the patient for one year after we remove braces. We call this the retention phase and the patient must wear their retainer’s as instructed by the Orthodontist.

What financing options are available for my child’s braces?

We have competitive pricing with affordable payment options that work with most family budgets. Our payment plans start as low as 0% down, $125 per month with easy to qualify-for options.

How often will my child need to visit the orthodontist?

Regular visits to the orthodontist are a part of every treatment plan. Patients will have appointments approximately once every four to six, sometimes 8 weeks. Appointment times vary, determined by the recommended procedure from the Orthodontist.

Is orthodontic care covered by Medicaid? By other insurance?

Medicaid covers the cost of braces for children if it is determined that orthodontic treatment is medically necessary. Most private insurance plans also cover a fixed portion of the cost of braces for children and adults. Our orthodontic team works directly with Medicaid and other insurance providers to ensure that patients can get the care they need. We also provide very competitive pricing and have flexible payment plans for those not covered by other insurance.

Learn more about getting braces on a budget.
Learn more about the benefits of braces for children

How do I know if my child needs braces?

The best way to know for sure if your child will need braces is to have an orthodontic evaluation. Orthodontists are experts on teeth and jaw alignment. They are trained to identify bite problems, known as malocclusions that may have negative consequences if not addressed with orthodontic treatment. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children receive their first orthodontic screening no later than age seven so that a professional assessment and treatment plan can be determined as early as possible in your child’s development.

Learn more about the benefits of braces

Are Braces More Difficult for Adults?

Because their bones are harder and no longer growing, correcting alignment issues can take longer for adults than for children. There are a number of specific age-related issues that can impact adult orthodontic treatment such as bone loss, teeth wear, prior extractions, and pain in the jaw joint. Despite these concerns, more and more adults are undergoing orthodontic treatment. Schedule an orthodontic evaluation to determine the right treatment plan for you.

Learn more about adult braces

Do you see adults for orthodontics?

Many of our locations see adult patients for orthodontics! Adults love our friendly locations and our competitive pricing. To find out if a specific location takes adult patients in orthodontics, contact that location directly.

Still making a decision about braces? Browse these helpful resources:

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It's our mission to ensure that every child and family has access to affordable high-quality, compassionate care. Our kid-friendly offices, high-quality staff, flexible scheduling, and a variety of insurance options make us the perfect fit for your family.

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