What is a Pediatric Dentist?
The Pediatric Dentist is a specialist who is dedicated specifically to the oral health of children from infancy through the teen years. They have special training to work with a wide variety of dental problems that are common to developing mouths. They are trained and qualified to care for children with special needs, and will work with pediatricians to develop a comprehensive plan that combines oral health with total health care.
Are the parents allowed in the dental area with the child?
It is highly recommended to sit back and relax as we navigate your child through their appointment with ease and joy. One parent is allowed in the treatment areas with their child if this enhances your comfort level. Many times, children sense anxiousness from their parent, which can affect their behavior and cooperation. We ask you to be a quiet observer while we work with your child giving him/her our undivided attention. We value referrals, and they are truly appreciated. We believe that by observing our delivery of care to your child, it may be easier for you to recommend us to friends and family.
What can I expect at my child’s first dental visit?
The first visit to our office is very important and our goal is to make it a memorable first impression. For young children (4 yrs or younger), it is HIGHLY recommended the visit take place in the morning time. Children are more rested and more cooperative as opposed to during their nap time or after daycare or school. We have this makes a huge difference in your child’s ability to cooperate. We are happy to provide excuse forms for work and school to accommodate this schedule.
Upon entering the office, you will be greeted immediately by our friendly staff. Our specialized dental assistants will walk you and your child to their dental chair, and introduce the child to the dental equipment. We will begin by gaining and establishing trust with your child using behavior management strategies. After a rapport is established with your child, they will clean your child’s teeth and take x-rays if needed. The doctor will then meet the child and the parent to perform a thorough examination. We will spend sufficient time with you and your child reviewing the cavity process, diet, hygiene, thumb-sucking, pacifier use, fluoride exposure and much more! We will also review if we found any cavities, discuss a treatment plan, and review all options available to provide an enjoyable patient experience.
What are some ways to prepare my child for his/her first dental visit?
The best way to prepare your child for the first visit is to be open and honest they are visiting the dentist. Explain the doctor will count their teeth, take pictures of their teeth and even tickle their teeth. Practice opening and closing their mouth at home and counting. Let them know they will be receiving a “goodie” bag and that kids enjoy their visits to the dentist.
Can my child’s cavities be fixed the same day of my first appointments?
The two most important goals in our office is the overall experience and the quality of care. Fixing cavities is not what the specialty of Pediatric Dentistry entails, it is only a small portion of what we do. Our job is to successfully build trust in your child. Often this requires behavior management strategies to motivate your child to cooperate with us during multiple visits, so they enjoy their experience and look forward to coming to see us. When we fix your child’s teeth if treatment is required, we do so under the most satisfying and psychologically positive and rewarding conditions. When we are able to successfully establish trust and cooperation in your child, the quality of care is substantially improved. However, if you child is comfortable with the environment and time allows, we will fix cavities the same day.
Are X-rays safe?
Our office policies regarding x-rays are firmly within the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists (AAPD), the Washington Society of Pediatric Dentists (WSPD), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Medical Association (AMA).
We believe in technology and believe in using it wisely. We use digital x-rays which produce a significantly lower level of radiation and proper protection (thyroid collars) for our patients. Please be assured that dental x-ray radiation is equivalent to the radiation received from the sun and other sources when walking outdoors on a normal day. Digital X-rays can reduce your child’s exposure to radiation by up to 80 percent!
Our x-ray policy is dependent on the child’s risk factors regarding the development of dental caries. After initial examination, we evaluate a child’s risk factors to develop cavities and recommend x-rays accordingly.
Is Fluoride safe?
Fluoride substantially reduces your child’s risk of dental caries. Fluoride is found in our tap water and toothpaste. Using risk assessment, your child may benefit from the use of fluoride if they are considered to be at high risk of developing caries. Fluoride is highly recommended by all associations listed above, and is safe and effective in preventing caries.
Prevention is the most important aspect of pediatric dentistry and oral health. Caries is preventable! It will ALWAYS be easier to use the recommended current therapies for prevention as opposed to restoring caries in the office.
What is the best way to clean my baby’s teeth? What about night feeding?
Frequent nighttime feeding has been associated with dental caries. It is recommended to wipe the child’s mouth after nursing. Bacteria may harbor the tongue and cheeks and can be present even before the teeth erupt.
Night-feeding should be ceased by age 1. Sleeping at night with milk or juice is a substantial risk factor for caries. We encourage cup use by the age of 1.
What should I do if my child sucks his/her thumb?
Finger or pacifier sucking has been shown to be nurturing and calming to the developing psyche of a child. Depending on the frequency, intensity and duration of the habit, a child may reshape the facial skeleton or jaws, and move teeth due into improper position. Most children stop spontaneously as they get older but positive reinforcement by the time the child is 24-36 months has been shown to be the most successful method of breaking the habit. If your child continues sucking after permanent teeth erupt, or if he sucks aggressively, let us know and we can check to see if any problems may arise from the habit.
Do you offer sedation dentistry?
Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is the most frequently used method for easing mild to moderate anxiety in children.
If necessary, Dr. Alegre can also provide conscious sedation or general anesthesia for children with complicated treatment needs.
What if my child is very scared or traumatized from a previous dental experience?
This is a very common concern that we face often with parents. Our staff and the techniques we use at Renton Kids Dentistry significantly reduces your child’s anxiety levels. We are a different office, different staff, and have a different approach to ensure your child’s comfort level. Many parents and patients are impressed at our abilities to provide a high level of comfort when treating apprehensive and traumatized children.
Why are baby teeth so important? They will be replaced anyway.
It is important to maintain the health of the primary or baby teeth to establish a good foundation of oral health for your child. Neglected primary or baby teeth frequently lead to problems that can affect developing permanent (adult) teeth and create a lifetime of dental problems.
Primary baby teeth are essential for proper chewing and eating: they are the first steps in the digestive system. They contribute to speech development, provide space for the permanent teeth to erupt, and encourage normal development of the jaw and surrounding muscles. They also contribute to an building good self-esteem.
What can I do to prevent cavities?
For infants, we recommend using a wet washcloth and gently wipe the plaque from your baby’s teeth and gums. Do this after the morning feeding and before your child goes to sleep for the night. Avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle filled with anything other than water once their teeth erupt.
Toddlers and children just starting school need to have an adult help them brush their teeth twice a day and floss daily. Fine motor skills used in brushing don’t develop in children until at least ages 7-8. Your child can be ready to brush their teeth unsupervised if they are able to write in cursive.
Many children respond well to using an electric toothbrush. Ask us about when to start and how to introduce this into your child’s tooth routine.
Be sure your child receives regular dental checkups and cleanings every six months. And of course, always teach and encourage your children to make healthy food choices at meals and for snacks.
What are sealants?
A sealant is a clear plastic material that is applied to the chewing surfaces (grooves) of the back teeth (premolars and molars). Sealants act as a barrier to food, plaque and acid to protect the decay-prone groove areas of the teeth on the chewing surfaces. Most cavities are found in molars. Sealants have been found to prevent cavities when applied early, usually just after the teeth have erupted (around age six). Sealants do not protect between teeth, so it’s important to brush and floss daily when a sealant is applied.