age 1 dental visit
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child visits a dentist for the first time at the age of 1 to establish a dental home. If needed, our office welcomes infants less than 1 year of age to address concerns. As soon as you see your little one’s first tooth, you should start brushing with a small appropriate-sized toothbrush and a smear of fluoridated toothpaste. At your toddler’s first dental visit, Dr. Collins will complete an exam, clean your child’s teeth, and discuss how to maintain good oral health.
Cleaning and Fluoride
A thorough cleaning and professional fluoride application every 6 months will help prevent dental disease. We will clean your child’s teeth to remove bacterial plaque and hard tartar deposits that can cause gum disease and tooth decay. We apply topical fluoride to your child’s teeth to make them stronger and more resistant to tooth decay.
If your little one develops a cavity (tooth decay) Dr. Collins can treat it. Tooth decay happens when sugar interacts with bacteria normally found on teeth and produces acid. The acid made by this reaction causes damage to the tooth’s structure. Dr. Collins can remove the tooth decay, and she may place a tooth-colored filling to make your child’s tooth healthy again. If the tooth decay is severe, she may need to place a crown on the tooth. This will make the tooth strong again. Dr. Collins will always try to use modern dental materials such as tooth-colored fillings and crowns when possible, especially on the front teeth. We want your child to be proud of their smile!
Sometimes tooth decay becomes so severe that the best treatment is to remove the tooth. Dr. Collins will only use this treatment as a last resort. If a primary molar (baby back tooth) is removed early, we will try to place a space maintainer. A space maintainer will help keep the rest of the primary (baby) teeth standing straight until the permanent teeth come in.
Dr. Collins will evaluate your child’s jaw development and the way the teeth fit together at each visit. Sometimes, children benefit from early orthodontic treatment to straighten teeth or correct jaw development problems. For some children, orthodontic treatment early may reduce the amount of treatment needed later.
X-ray use is a necessary part of the dental exam in our office. We obtain x-rays to look for cavities between the teeth, abscesses, cysts, and other diseases. X-rays help Dr. Collins detect oral health problems early. We will always practice x-ray safety. We use lead shields (with thyroid collars) to decrease your child’s x-ray exposure. We use high speed film to allow us to use the smallest amount of x-ray dosage possible. Each child will be individually evaluated to determine how often x-rays are needed.
Dental Emergency and Trauma
Your child may fall or have an accident which results in an injury to their mouth and/or teeth. First, determine if they have experienced a head injury, loss of consciousness, nausea/vomiting, or bleeding from the nose or ears. If so, then seek emergency treatment with their pediatrician or the nearest emergency room right away.
If your child has “knocked out” a permanent tooth, try to re-insert it into the socket OR place it in milk and call our office immediately. If your child has a swollen face, call our office immediately. We provide a 24 hour voicemail service for dental emergencies.
We offer nitrous oxide (laughing gas) for our patients if needed. Children who receive nitrous oxide usually experience a calming effect. Your child will keep their natural reflexes and remain fully conscious. This gas is safe and is eliminated from the body when the gas is turned off. We would like for your child to have little or no food prior to their appointment with nitrous oxide (occasionally children will experience nausea or vomit with a full stomach).
Sedation and Hospital Dentistry
Some children have a difficult time sitting in the dental chair to have dental treatment completed. As a pediatric dentist, Dr. Collins can determine if your child would benefit from oral sedation in the office or general anesthesia at the hospital to have their dental treatment completed.
If oral sedation is chosen, it will be given in a flavored liquid form (small cup or squirted by a syringe) in the office. Dr. Collins may use Hydroxyzine (Atarax), Meperidine (Demerol), and/or Diazepam (Valium) to help relax your child. After the medication(s) are given, it may take 45-60 minutes before a relaxing effect is seen. In some children, oral sedation is not effective, and treatment cannot be completed in the office.
Dr. Collins may recommend that your child have dental treatment completed at the hospital using general anesthesia. This option is for patients who have extensive dental treatment needs and are unable to cooperate for care in the dental office.