Dental FAQs

1. What is a Pediatric Dentist?
2. When should my child visit a dentist for the first time?
3. Can children grow up cavity free?
4. Why are the primary teeth so important?
5. How can I help my child prevent cavities?
6. Will a good diet help prevent cavities?
7. If our water is fluoridated, should my child also use a fluoride toothpaste?
8. What are dental sealants?
9. When should my child start brushing his/her teeth?
10. What should I do if my child chips or knocks out a tooth?
11. Is sensitivity to hot/cold common in children?
12. Can anything be done to make sure my child’s teeth come in straight?
13. Should I be concerned if my child grind’s his/her teeth at night?
14. Is thumb sucking detrimental to my child’s dental development?
15. Is tobacco harmful to teeth?
16. Tongue piercing – is it really cool?
17. What should I do for a toothache?
18. What is the best way to control bleeding in the mouth?
19. Is one toothpaste better than another?
20. Is it possible to get too much fluoride?
21. Is Magic Smiles responsible for my dental insurance?
22. What do my dental benefits cover?
23. What does my dental plan mean by “usual, customary and reasonable?”
24. What should I expect from my dental plan coverage?
25. If a procedure is not covered by my insurance is it not necessary?

What is a Pediatric Dentist?
A pediatric dentist completes an extra two years of specialized training and is dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through their teenage years. Children and teens require different approaches in dealing with behavior, guiding dental growth and development, and avoiding future dental problems. The pediatric dentist is qualified to meet these needs.

When should my child visit a dentist for the first time?
Let the first tooth, which will surface between six and twelve months, remind you that it’s time to see your pediatric or general dentist. Though this may seem early, 40% of toddlers between two and three have some inflammation of the gums and/or cavities. Be sure to get advice on tooth cleaning, pacifiers, fluoride and preventing tooth injuries for young walkers.

Can children grow up cavity free?
Ten years ago, we might have said no. But today’s research and new, easy-to-follow professional advice indeed make it possible for almost every child to grow up cavity-free.

Why are the primary teeth so important?
Primary teeth, or baby-teeth, are important for proper chewing and eating providing space for the permanent teeth and guiding them into the correct position permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles.

Primary teeth also affect the development of speech and add to an attractive appearance. While the front 4 teeth last until 6-7 years of age, the back teeth (cuspids and molars) aren’t replaced until ages 10-13.

How can I help my child prevent cavities?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry advises:

Brush with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day.
Floss children’s teeth once a day until they are able to do it themselves – around age 7 or 8.
Visit your pediatric or general dentist regularly.
Get enough fluoride through drinking water, fluoride products and, when indicated, through fluoride supplements.
Have sealants applied to the chewing surfaces of permanent back teeth or molars soon after they come in.
Snack moderately – no more than twice a day.

Will a good diet help prevent cavities?
Though a balanced diet is certainly important in preventing cavities, experts agree that cavities are not only the result of what children eat, but also, how often they eat. Frequent snacking without brushing leaves food on the teeth longer and fosters tooth decay.

If our water is fluoridated, should my child also use a fluoride toothpaste?
Absolutely. It was once believed that dietary fluoride (fluoride taken into the body through food and water) was more effective than topical fluoride (fluoride applied to the teeth with toothpaste, mouth rinses or in-office fluoride treatments). Both sources of fluoride are equally influential in preventing tooth decay. Toothpaste provides daily fluoride boosts that contribute to keeping your child’s teeth cavity-free.

What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants protect the chewing surfaces of back teeth where most cavities in children are found. Made of clear or shaded plastic, sealants are painted onto the tiny grooves and depressions in the molars. By “sealing out” food and plaque, sealants reduce the risk of decay. They are quickly and painlessly applied to baby teeth as well as permanent teeth that, in the dentist’s opinion, are likely to have decay on the biting surface. Sealants must be checked regularly and replaced when necessary. Generally, they will last for several years.

When should my child start brushing his/her teeth?
Brushing should actually begin before children are capable of doing it themselves. A wet cloth or gauze effectively cleans gums and removes plaque after nursing and establishes a good habit early on. Begin brushing gently with a soft bristle brush when the first tooth comes in and begin flossing when most of the primary teeth are in.

At six or seven, children can brush on their own, with careful supervision. And by eight or nine, they can floss on their own too.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says “a good rule of thumb is this…When children are accomplished enough in caring for their own needs that they can get up, bathe and dress themselves and comb their hair without your help – then they are ready to accept full responsibility for their mouth-cleaning program!”

What should I do if my child chips or knocks out a tooth?
Do not despair. A chipped or broken tooth can usually be repaired. If a tooth is broken, save the fragments and make an emergency visit to your dentist’s office. If a permanent tooth is knocked out, find it, and if it is not broken, rinse it in cool water then gently replace it in the socket. Hold it in place while you hurry to see your dentist. If the tooth does not seem replaceable, bring it with you to the dentist in a glass of milk or cool water. DO NOT DELAY – the faster you get to the dentist, the better your chances are of saving the tooth.

Is sensitivity to hot/cold common in children?
Sensitivity is common and can be symptomatic of anything from a harmless sinus headache to more serious problems such as bruxism (teeth grinding), cavities, loose fillings, or receding gums.

Sensitivity also can be magnified by tiny cracks beneath the outer enamel created from chewing on hard objects. Dental treatments sometimes inflame the pulp or nerves inside the teeth making them temporarily sensitive.

If your child complains of momentary pain caused by hot or cold elements, consider all possible causes and consult your pediatric or general dentist. Fleeting sensations are rarely grounds for worry. But if these pains tend to linger, see your dentist soon for an examination.

Is there anything that can be done to make sure my child’s teeth come in straight?
As your pediatric or general dentist monitors your child’s development, he or she can teach your child to avoid oral habits that encourage orthodontic problems. Your dentist also can identify malocclusion (abnormal dental alignment) right away and actively intervene to guide the teeth as they emerge in the mouth. Many times, early orthodontic treatment can prevent more extensive treatment later. Though your child may need braces, new preventive techniques can minimize time needed to wear them.

Should I be concerned if my child grinds his/her teeth at night?
Parents are often concerned about the night-time grinding of teeth, called Bruxism. Most cases of pediatric bruxism do not require any treatment. If excessive wear of the teeth is present, then a mouth guard may be used at night. But beware – use of a mouth guard may interfere with the growth of the jaws and your child could choke if it becomes dislodged during sleep.
The good news is, most children will outgrow Bruxism as they grow older. Most children will stop grinding their teeth between ages 9 and 12. If you suspect bruxism, discuss your concerns with your pediatrician or pediatric dentist.

Is thumb sucking or using a pacifier detrimental to my child’s dental development?
Sucking is a natural reflex and infants as well as young children may use thumbs, fingers, pacifiers or other objects on which to suck. It seems to make them feel secure and happy or provide a sense of security at difficult periods. Since sucking is relaxing, it may also induce sleep.

Thumb or pacifier sucking that persists beyond the eruption of the permanent teeth can cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and tooth alignment. How intensely a child sucks will determine whether or not dental problems may result. Children who rest their thumbs passively in their mouths are less likely to have difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs.

Usually, children stop sucking their thumbs or on pacifiers between the ages of two and four. Parents should encourage their older children to stop the sucking habit by the time their permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Peer pressure causes many school-aged children to stop.

Is tobacco harmful to teeth?
Smokeless tobacco, also called spit, chew or snuff, is often used by teenagers who believe that it is a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. This is an unfortunate misconception. Studies show that spit tobacco may be more addictive than smoking cigarettes and may be more difficult to quit. Teenagers who use it may be interested to know that one can of snuff per day delivers as much nicotine as 60 cigarettes. In as little as three to four months, smokeless tobacco use can cause periodontal disease and produce pre-cancerous lesions called leukoplakias.

If your teenager is a tobacco user you should watch for the following symptoms that could be early signs of oral cancer:

A sore that won’t heal
White or red leathery patches on your lips, and on or under your tongue
Pain, tenderness or numbness anywhere in the mouth or lips
Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your jaw or tongue; or a change in the way your teeth fit together

Because the early signs of oral cancer usually are not painful, people often ignore them. If it’s not caught in the early stages, oral cancer can require extensive, sometimes disfiguring, surgery. Even worse, it can kill.Help your child avoid tobacco in any form. By doing so, they will avoid bringing cancer-causing chemicals in direct contact with their tongue, gums and cheek.

Tongue piercing – is it really cool?
There are many risks involved with oral piercings including:
chipped or cracked teeth
blood clots
blood poisoning

The mouth contains millions of bacteria, and infection is a common complication of oral piercing. Your tongue could swell large enough to close off your airway!

Common symptoms after piercing include pain, swelling, infection, an increased flow of saliva and injuries to gum tissue. Difficult-to-control bleeding or nerve damage can result if a blood vessel or nerve bundle is in the path of the needle.
So follow the advice of the American Dental Association and give your mouth a break – skip the mouth jewelry.

What can I do for a toothache?
Clean the affected area of the mouth thoroughly. Rinse the mouth vigorously with warm water or use dental floss to dislodge impacted food or debris. DO NOT place aspirin on the gum or on the aching tooth. If the face is swollen, apply a cold compress. Take your child to a dentist.

What is the best way to control bleeding in the mouth?
Apply firm but gentle pressure with a gauze or cloth. If bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes or it cannot be controlled by simple pressure, take your child to a hospital emergency room.

Is one toothpaste better than another?
Many toothpastes, and/or tooth polishes, can damage young smiles. They contain harsh abrasives that can wear away young tooth enamel. When looking for a toothpaste for your child make sure to pick one that is recommended by the American Dental Association. These toothpastes have undergone testing to insure they are safe to use.

Remember, children should spit out toothpaste after brushing to avoid getting too much fluoride. If too much fluoride is ingested, a condition known as fluorosis can occur. If your child is too young or unable to spit out toothpaste, consider providing them with a fluoride free toothpaste, using no toothpaste, or using only a “pea size” amount of toothpaste.

Is it possible to get too much fluoride?
Yes. If too much fluoride is ingested, a condition known as fluorosis can occur. Children should spit out toothpaste after brushing to avoid getting too much fluoride. If your child is too young or unable to spit out toothpaste, consider providing them with a fluoride free toothpaste, using no toothpaste, or using only a “pea size” portion of toothpaste.
The small percentage of children who incur severe dental fluorosis typically consume over-fluoridated water on a regular basis or eat their toothpaste.

Is Magic Smiles responsible for my dental insurance?
No. Your dental coverage is based upon a contract between you and /or your employer and the Dental Plan Provider. We are not part of the contract and, therefore, are not responsible for the terms and/or benefits of your Dental Plan. Honoring dental benefits is done as a courtesy to the patient, but please understand that it is not something any office has the obligation to do. We want to help you maximize your benefits, but also do not want to be controlled by Dental Plan Providers nor the benefit packages they offer. Normally, in our office, you can count on your Dental Plan Provider paying approximately 30%-75% of the total fee for services in a high quality practice such as ours.

What do my dental benefits cover?
Dental benefits differ greatly from traditional medical health insurance benefits and can vary quite a bit from plan to plan. When dental plans first appeared in the early 1970’s, most plans had a yearly maximum of $1000.00 per person. Today most plans still have an annual maximum of $1000.00 per person. Yet dental premiums have risen due to time and the inflation rate. Your dental premiums have increased, but your benefits have not, therefore, dental coverage is never a pay-all, it is only an aid.

What does my dental plan mean by “usual, customary and reasonable?”
You may receive a notification from your Dental Plan Provider stating that dental fees are higher than “usual, customary and reasonable”. Dental Plan Providers never reveal how they determine “usual, customary, & reasonable” (UCR) fees. A survey done in the state of Washington found at least eight different UCR fees scheduled for one zip code in the Seattle area. They are, at least, determined by taking some percentage of an average fee for a particular procedure in a geographic area. An average has been defined as “the worst of the best” or “the best of the worst”. We do not provide average dentistry nor do we charge below average fees.

What should I expect from my dental plan coverage?
Many plans tell their patients that they will be covered up to 80% or up to 100%, but do not clearly specify plan fee schedule allowances, annual maximums, or limitations. It is more realistic to expect dental plans to cover 25% to 50% of major services. Remember, the amount a plan pays is determined by how much you or your employer paid for the plan. You get back only what you or your employer puts in, less the profits of the Dental Plan Provider.

If a procedure is not covered by my insurance is it not necessary?
Many routine dental services are not covered by Dental Plan Providers. This does not mean that the treatment recommended is not necessary or appropriate; just not covered.