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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions parents have about dentistry and oral health issues for their kids.  If you have any other questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to hear from you.

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What is a pediatric dentist?

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry, trained and highly experienced in children's dental, physical, emotional, and psychological development. A pediatric dentist has two or three years of specialty training after four years of dental school, limits their practice to treating children only, and are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants through to teenage years, as well as special needs adults.

Our approach is so gentle, fun, and friendly, parents often ask to be our patients, too! 

When should my child first see a dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Dental Association (ADA) recommend all children be seen by a dentist when their first tooth erupts; usually around 6 months of age, and no later than their first birthday.  Developing a relationship with your dentist early allows you and your child to become familiar and comfortable with the sites, sounds, smells, and routines of the dental office environment-- to gain confidence, trust, and comfort. Early examination and prevention will protect your child's smile now and in the future.

What's a first dental visit like?

For infants and toddlers, our exam is usually done with the child on the parent's lap. It's normal for young children to be shy and sometimes to cry. This behavior in no way upsets us, and you should not feel embarrassed nor should you feel obligated to quiet your child. We are a pediatric practice and we expect wiggly, noisy kids. Kids this age will generally receive the examination and a fluoride treatment. We'll also review diet and oral hygiene information along with any recommendations.

For preschool age and above, we use a technique called Tell-Show-Do. You will recognize this as we talk about things in a child-friendly way. Then, when appropriate, we show them what we are going to do. Lastly, we move slowly in baby steps when we do any procedure. This helps prevent any big surprises that may frighten a child. Using this approach helps children develop trust and be more comfortable during their visit(s). We encourage, but do not push. We want all visits to end on a positive note. Sometimes this takes time and patience. In addition to their exam, kids this age typically will receive some X-rays, a cleaning, and a topical fluoride treatment. We'll also review diet and oral hygiene information along with any recommendations.

As a pediatric dental practice, we use child-friendly and age appropriate words to describe what we do. Please support us in making your child's dental experience non-threatening by refraining from using words like shot, drill, pull the tooth, pain, or hurt. Also, kids tend to pick up on any dental anxiety their parent(s) may have. If you do, for the sake of your child we recommend you try to stay neutral-- and not go into too much detail-- about their dental visit.

How often should a child have dental Xray films?

The need for dental radiographs differs from child to child. Since every child is unique, X-rays are taken only after reviewing your child's medical and dental histories, and current clinical presentation. They are invaluable if cavities between your child's teeth are suspected (or need to be monitored), to assess rapidly growing teeth and jaws, and to help assess any infection or injury. We'll be happy to review our recommendations for radiographs and answer any questions or concerns you may have about them.

Are parents allowed to be present during their child's visit?

Absolutely!! We encourage parents to participate in their child's visit(s) for several reasons; It's important for us all to develop a relaxed, trusting, confident, friendly, fun, respectful bond; We're excited about taking care of kids and want to share that enthusiasm with you; We want to involve you with the process, rather than take our word for it; And we want you to experience how awesome your kid is during their visit. For most parents, it's a huge relief and a source of pride to see how well their children do during their visit.

That said, we find that once children and their parents become confident in our dental office, parents often enjoy the comfort of our reception area during their kid's dental visit. We'll come get you if we need to review or recommend anything with you.

Pretty sure my kid won't let you do anything, or will be too afraid, or cry. How do you handle that?

We're big believers in as pleasant, comfortable, and drama-free dental care for kids as possible. We encourage, but don't push. We introduce procedures age appropriately. We keep things moving along and are good at distraction. We're flexible. We always want to end on a good note.

By far the most effective behavior management for our patients are relaxed and confident parents who like and trust their kid's dentist! Since kids model their parents behavior, it's one of the reasons we make such an effort to get to know you and your child-- to develop open, understanding, trusting relationships. When we are all on the same expectations page, it all goes so much smoother for everyone, especially for your kid! This sometimes takes time and patience.

Otherwise, almost all of our very young, new, uncertain, or nervous patients do well with nothing more than commonly used nitrous oxide ("laughing gas") to help reduce any anxiety they may have (it does not put them to sleep, but rather helps gives them an awake, but mellow and relaxed feeling). It is such a kind, effective, and affordable option that it is used often in our office! It is extremely safe and effective, well tolerated, and out of your child's system within a few minutes after use.

We also proudly offer in-office IV and general anesthesia (GA), with the services of an experienced Board Certified Dental Anesthesiologist, to ensure quality dental care and the the highest safety standards. IV/GA is usually recommended for pre-cooperative behavior, young age, anxiety, fear, special needs, parental desire, or extensive dental treatment needs. When this level of sedation is required or desired, it has been our experience parents appreciate the safety, convenience, affordability, comfort (for both patient and parent!), and predictability of this option compared to others. We'll be happy to review with you the best option for you and your child.

When are sealants recommended?

A sealant is a thin protective coating that covers the chewing surfaces of molars, premolars, and any deep grooves or pits on teeth. Sealant material forms a protective, smooth barrier covering natural depressions and grooves in the teeth, making it much easier to clean and help keep these areas free of decay.

Who may need sealants? 

Children and teenagers - As soon as the six-year molars (the first permanent back teeth) appear, or any time throughout the cavity prone years of 6-16.

Sealants are easily applied and the process only takes minutes per tooth. 

Combined with good home care, a proper diet, and regular dental check-ups, sealants are very effective in helping prevent tooth decay.

What about second opinions?

There's hardly ever only one way to do anything. We appreciate it's a parent's job to get good information and feel confident about their child's dental care. And we know from experience to respect and trust a parent's intuition. That's why we're always happy to provide a second opinion. We also encourage our own patient's parents to seek a second opinion if there are questions, concerns, or uncertainties about any of our recommendations.

What insurances do you accept?

We happily accept all major dental insurances, including Denali Kids Care. We also accept cash, debit and major credit cards, and CareCredit for payment. We don't want you to have any surprise expenses, so we verify your insurance coverage before your first visit. For your piece of mind, any recommended treatment plan fees and insurance benefits are completely disclosed and we have your A-OK before we perform any treatment.

What's the deal with fluoridated water, toothpaste, and in-office fluoride varnish?

From years of scientific peer reviewed research and clinical experience showing its significant effectiveness strengthening teeth and reducing caries (cavities) risk, the American Dental Association (ADA) and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), along with Dr K, recommends the benefits of fluoride at home and in the dental office for most kids. However, we also appreciate differing views and beliefs about fluoride exposure and sincerely respect, honor, and happily comply with informed parental decision making for their kids dental health care.