Frequently asked questions
What are your office hours?
Which Insurances do you take?
These are the primary insurances we accept:
Blue Cross Blue Shield
What is a Pediatric Dentist?
Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years of specialty training following dental school, and are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.
When should my child first see a dentist?
“First visit by first birthday” sums it up. Your child should visit a pediatric dentist when the first tooth comes in, usually between six and twelve months of age. Early examination and preventive care will protect your child’s smile now and in the future.
**Compliments of AAPD
Why so early? What dental problems could a baby have?
The most important reason is to begin a thorough prevention program. Dental problems can begin early. A big concern is Early Childhood Caries (also know as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing caries). Your child risks severe decay from using a bottle during naps or at night or when they nurse continuously from the breast.
The earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems. Children with healthy teeth chew food easily, learn to speak clearly, and smile with confidence. Start your child now on a lifetime of good dental habits.
**Compliments of AAPD
Why are “baby teeth” important?
What if my child has a toothache?
Call your pediatric dentist and visit the office promptly. To comfort your child, rinse the mouth with water. Apply a cold compress or ice wrapped in a cloth. Do NOT put heat or aspirin on the sore area.
**Compliments of AAPD
What guidelines will help children remain cavity free?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends:
Brush with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day (for children 2 years or older.)
Floss children’s teeth once a day.
Visit your pediatric or general dentist regularly.
Ensure that fluoride is consumed through drinking water, fluoride products, and fluoride supplements.
Apply sealants to the chewing surfaces of permanent molars
Snack moderately, no more than twice a day. It is best to snack on foods with minimal or no sugar content. Fresh fruits and vegetables make great snacks.
Tips for helping children develop positive dental habits.
- Set a good example
Make good oral health a family effort
Show children that daily brushing and flossing, limited snacking and regular dental checkups are necessary for good oral health
Support your child when they are able to brush and floss on their own- assisting and performing spot checks as needed
How important is a child’s diet in the prevention of cavities?
While good oral hygiene is of utmost importance in the prevention of cavities, lack of a proper diet can have a tremendous impact on a child’s cavity rate. Limit not only the quantity of consumed sugary foods and beverages, but also the frequency throughout the day. Cavity formation is a process when sugar comes in contact with teeth, the cavity process can begin. The more times in a day that we consume sugar, the more at risk we are for developing cavities. By nature, many children like to snack throughout the day and many of these foods, including juices, are loaded with sugar. Even some” healthy” foods can be very high in sugar content, including, granola bars, cereal, and chocolate milk. Check the nutritional label f you are uncertain as to how much sugar a food item contains. Have your child drink plenty of water following snaking.
Do you allow parents to come back with their children?
Parents are invited back to accompany their child during the initial examination and during any treatment your child may receive. Parents are always allowed to accompany any child three years of age or younger We do encourage parents, however, to allow children to enter the treatment area alone if we think your child will behave better and have a more positive experience. Please let our receptionist know if you request special accommodations. If your child needs to be sedated for treatment or needs hospital dentistry care under general anesthesia, parents are asked not to accompany their child. There are no exceptions to this rule.
What do I do if my child has a dental emergency?
If your child has a dental emergency during office ours, please call our office as soon as possible. We will see you child immediately. If it is an after-hours emergency, a pager number will be given on the answering machine. If you are unable to reach a member of our team, proceed to the emergency room to ensure treatment in a timely manner. If your child lost consciousness related to the injury call 911.
Treating a permanent tooth that has been “knocked out” within the first few minutes is critical for the survival of that tooth. If a permanent tooth is knocked out, gently rinse, but do not scrub the tooth under water. Replace the tooth in the socket if possible. If this is impossible, place the tooth in a glass of milk or a clean wet cloth and come to the office immediately. If the tooth is fractured, please bring in any pieces you can find. If a baby tooth is knocked out, we do not recommend putting the tooth back in the mouth.
Our normal schedule may be delayed in order to accommodate an injured child. Please accept our apologies in advance should an emergency occur during your child’s appointment.
When should bottle-feeding be stopped?
Children should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age.
**Compliments of AAPD
When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?
The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush and water. Remember that most small children do not have the dexterity to brush their teeth effectively. Unless your child’s pediatric dentist advises it, do not use fluoridated toothpaste until age 2-3.
How can I prevent tooth decay from a bottle or nursing?
Encourage your child to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday. Children should not fall asleep with a bottle. At-will nighttime breast-feeding should be avoided after the first primary (baby) teeth begin to erupt. Drinking juice from a bottle should be avoided. When juice is offered, it should be in a cup
**Compliments of AAPD
How does thumb sucking affect dental health?
Generally, thumb sucking before the age of two is normal and harmless. When thumb sucking is not stopped by the appropriate age (generally by the age of two or three), then parents should discourage the act. Prolonged thumb sucking may contribute to crowded and/or crooked teeth development, bite problems, and a constricted airway.
Why do children lose their baby teeth?
A baby tooth usually stays in until a permanent tooth underneath pushes it out and takes its place. Unfortunately, some children lose a baby tooth too soon. A tooth might be knocked out accidentally or removed because of dental disease. When a tooth is lost too early, your pediatric dentist may recommend a space maintainer to prevent future space loss and dental problems.
** Compliments of American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
Why all the fuss? Baby teeth fall out eventually on their own!
Baby teeth are important to your child’s present and future dental health. They encourage normal development of the jawbones and muscles. They save space for the permanent teeth and guide them into position. Remember: Some baby teeth are not replaced until a child is 12 or 14 years old.
**Compliments of American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
In addition, it is very important to establish good oral hygiene habits while your child has their baby teeth. These habits: brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and using mouthwash are the habits that your child is going to continue when their permanent teeth erupt.
How does a lost baby tooth cause problems for permanent teeth?
If a baby tooth is lost too soon, the teeth beside it may tilt or drift into the empty space. Teeth in the other jaw may move up or down to fill the gap. When adjacent teeth shift into the empty space, they create a lack of space in the jaw for the permanent teeth. So, permanent teeth are crowded and come in crooked. If left untreated, the condition may require extensive orthodontic treatment.
**Compliments of American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
What should I do if my child’s baby tooth is knocked out?
When your child needs urgent dental treatment, contact our office as soon as possible.
If it is a permanent tooth try to find the tooth and/or missing pieces of that tooth to bring to our office. Rinse it gently in cool water if there is debris on it. DO NOT SCRUB IT OR CLEAN IT WITH ANY TYPE OF SOAP!
If your child allows you to do so please try to replace the tooth in their socket and hold it there. You can use clean gauze or a washcloth for them to bite on if necessary.
If you can’t put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container with milk, saliva, or water.
Get to our office immediately. The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.
What about a severe blow to the head or jaw fracture?
If your child suffers a severe head or jaw fracture go directly to the emergency room. This can be life threatening and should be treated first.
Do special-needs children have special dental concerns?
Yes. Some children with disabilities are more susceptible to tooth decay, gum disease or oral trauma. Certain medications, special diets, or oral habits detrimental to dental health are common among special-needs children. If preventive dental care is started early and followed conscientiously, every child can enjoy a healthy smile.
How can I prevent dental problems for my special-needs child?
A first dental visit (Well-Care visit) by age one will be the beginning to a lifetime of good dental health. We will obtain a full medical history, perform an examination of your child’s teeth and gums, and then develop a preventive care plan specifically designed for your child’s needs.
Will preventive dentistry benefit my special-needs child?
Yes! Your child will benefit from the preventive approach recommended for all children- effective daily brushing and flossing, moderation of snacking and proper amounts of fluoride. Adequate oral home care takes minutes a day and will prevent many dental problems. Regular professional cleanings and fluoride treatments will help prevent or help catch problems early if they should arise.
Is Happy Teeth Dental Care prepared to care for special-needs children?
Specialty education in pediatric dentistry provides additional training that focuses specifically on the care for children with special health-care needs. Our office is designed to be physically accessible for special-needs patients.
When will my child need orthodontics/braces?
For the average child, the ideal time for orthodontics will be just before the last of the primary/baby teeth naturally fall out. This will usually occur at approximately eleven. However, there are circumstances in which children benefit from phase I or interceptive orthodontics. For this reason, the American Association of Orthodontists typically recommends that children have a screening appointment with an orthodontist at age seven. At this time, the orthodontist will discuss future treatments, including the timing of such treatment.
What are athletic mouth protectors?
Athletic mouth protectors are soft plastic mouth guards made specifically for your child’s teeth. They protect the teeth, lips, cheeks and tongue. They can help protect children from such serious head and neck injuries as concussions and jaw fractures. Increasingly, organized sports are requiring mouth guards to prevent injury to their athletes. Research shows that most oral injuries occur when athletes are not wearing mouth protection.
Are thumb, finger and pacifier habits bad for the teeth and jaws?
The majority of children stop sucking on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers or other objects on their own between two and three years of age without any harm being done to their teeth or jaws. However, children that repeatedly suck on a finger, pacifier or other object over long periods of time may cause the upper front teeth to tip toward the lip or not come in properly. We will carefully monitor the direction of tooth eruption into the mouth. Often times, problems that arise related to oral habits will correct themselves if stopped in a timely manner. However, the longer the habit persists, the more likely it will cause a permanent malformation of the jaw and related skeleton.
What can I do to stop my child’s habit?
The majority of children stop sucking habits on their own. Some children may need the help of their parents. When your child is old enough to understand the possible results of an oral habit, we will encourage your child to stop. We will explain to them what happens to the teeth if he/she doesn’t stop. It is very important to get children to want to stop and to realize that it is a part of growing up. This will greatly increase their chances of terminating the habit. Once your child wants to stop, a reward system and earnest reminders will help he/she accomplish the goal. If all other options have been exhausted, we will discuss with you the use of a fixed dental appliance to exhaust the habit.
What are sealants?
Dental sealants can protect your children from cavities. Sealants are applied to the chewing surfaces of molars to act as a barrier between the tooth and harmful bacteria. They are most effective when applied to decay-susceptible biting surfaces as soon as the teeth come in.
The sealing material is applied to the tooth surface using an “etching” fluid. The sealant partially penetrates the tooth enamel, ensuring that it is firmly attached to the tooth. Once applied, the sealant fills in the tooth’s grooves, hardens and creates a thin plastic barrier that keeps cavity causing bacterial out of the pits and fissures.
Why are sealants used?
Sealants can stop cavities before they begin. Children are prone to cavities because of the natural shape of their growing teeth. When first molars come in around age six, deep crevices called pits and fissures form on the chewing surfaces of these back teeth. Pits and fissures are so narrow that the bristles of a toothbrush cannot reach into them, making them difficult to clean. However, these crevices provide plenty of room for bacteria to grow.
Children’s eating habits also lead to cavities. Their diets generally include frequent snacking, and they rarely brush as often as necessary. Children are usually brushing their own teeth by age six, and they may not be doing an adequate job.
How are sealants applied?
Application is fast and painless. Your child will be happy to know that with sealants, there is no drilling and no discomfort. Either your dentist or a registered dental hygienist can apply sealants, and the process takes less time than having a tooth filled.
What are amalgams (silver fillings)?
Amalgams or silver fillings are used to restore or “fill” decayed areas in teeth. Amalgam fillings have a scientifically proven history of safety and effectiveness in restoring teeth.
What are composites (tooth colored fillings)?
Composites or tooth colored fillings are used to “fill” areas of decay, restore fractured teeth in which cosmetic appearance is important. The shade of the restoration material is matched as closely as possible to the color of the natural tooth. This is typically the restoration of choice, unless treatment conditions dictate the use of another material.
What are Stainless Steel Crowns?
Stainless steel crowns are silver colored “caps” used to restore teeth that are too badly decayed to hold fillings, need a nerve treatment, or when durability is a concern. Crowns with white facings can be used on front teeth.
What is a Pulpotomy?
This procedure is a nerve treatment in which the sick portion of the tooth nerve is removed and medicine is placed in order to avoid extracting the tooth.
What is a Pulpectomy?
A pulpectomy is necessary when the nerve of the tooth is dead. The entire infected pulp is removed and medication is placed in the root canals.
What is Nitrous Oxide/Oxygen?
Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) is ALWAYS administered with oxygen. Nitrous oxide is a safe gas and is 100% exhaled by the patient. The combination of nitrous oxide and oxygen, inhaled by your child during the restorative appointment, is used to relax a mildly anxious child. Nitrous Oxide/oxygen also acts to minimize discomfort during dental treatment. Your child does not fall asleep and can effectively communicate with the dentist. Your child should be able to return to normal activities upon leaving the dental office, however limit the amount of physical activity immediately following treatment.
What are space maintainers? How does a space maintainer help?
Space maintainers are appliances made of metal or plastic that are custom fit to your child’s mouth. They are small and unobtrusive in appearance. Most children easily adjust to them after the first few days.
Space maintainers hold open the empty space left by a lost tooth. They steady the remaining teeth, preventing movement until the permanent tooth takes its natural position in the jaw. Its more affordable — and easier on your child — to keep teeth in normal positions with a space maintainer than to move them back in place with orthodontic treatment.
**Compliments of AAPD
What special care do space maintainers need?
Pediatric dentists have four rules for space maintainer care. First, avoid sticky sweets or chewing gum. Second, don’t tug or push on the space maintainer with your fingers or tongue. Third, keep it clean with conscientious brushing and flossing. Fourth, continue regular dental visits.
**Compliments of AAPD
What is general anesthesia?
General anesthesia provides a way to effectively complete dental care in an operating room facility in a hospital. Usually only children with severe anxiety and/or severe tooth decay are recommended for general anesthesia. Typically, these children are very young or have compromised health concerns.
Is general anesthesia safe?
YES. While normal risks are always present with surgery, a pediatric anesthesiologist will put your child to sleep. They are responsible for delivering the general anesthesia, monitoring and the medical care of the child. Many precautions are taken to provide safety for the child during general anesthesia care. Anesthesia personnel, who are trained to manage potential complications, monitor patients closely during the general anesthesia procedure. We can discuss the benefits and risks involved with general anesthesia and why it is recommended for your child’s treatment.
What special considerations are associated with the general anesthesia appointment?
Usually, your child’s surgery is performed as an “outpatient” basis. Surgery will occur in the morning and your child will be discharged in the afternoon to return home.
A physical examination – is required prior to a general anesthesia appointment to complete dental care. This physical examination provides information to ensure the safety of the general anesthesia procedure. We will advise you about any evaluation appointments that may be requested.
Prior to surgery – Gently discuss with your child about the appointment; this may reduce anxiety. Explain to them that they are “going to go to sleep when their teeth are being fixed”. Avoid using words like “hurt”.
Eating and drinking – You will be informed about food and fluid intake guidelines prior to the appointment. It is absolutely essential that no food or liquids be consumed after midnight the night before surgery.
Changes in your child’s health – If your child is sick or running a fever, contact us immediately! It may be necessary to arrange another appointment.
Usually, children are tired following general anesthesia. You may wish to return home with minimal activity planned for your child until the next day. After that, your child will usually be able to return their routine schedule.
What is conscious sedation?
Conscious sedation is a way of using medication to relax a child without the loss of consciousness.
Who should be sedated?
The doctors may recommend conscious sedation for children with severe anxiety and/or the inability to cooperate during treatment. They will discuss the pros and cons of sedation on a case-by-case basis.
Why use conscious sedation?
Conscious sedation aids in calming a child so that he or she can accept dental treatment in a more relaxed state. This can prevent injury to the patient and provide a better environment for delivering quality dental care.
Is sedation safe?
Advanced education in pediatric dentistry offers advanced training to administer, monitor, and manage sedated patients. Dr. Nguyet “Whit” Tau and Dr. Nguyen “Minh” Tau are both certified in CPR/ Basic Life Support and exceed the standard of care in his monitoring and emergency equipment.
Post-Op Instructions Care of the Mouth after Extractions:
The gauze needs to stay in place with biting pressure for 15-30 minutes. This will reduce the amount of bleeding.
Give your child the appropriate dose of children’s Tylenol, Motrin or Advil when you take the gauze out (NO aspirin). Your child should only need this for approximately 12 to 24 hours. If pain persists beyond 48 hours, please call our office.
Allow your child to begin eating only soft foods (mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, yogurt, jell-o, etc) for the first 24 hours. Please avoid sharp, crunchy foods because the area may be a sensitive. Encourage plenty of liquids (water, soups, etc.). You can transition to a regular diet as the gum tissue begins to heal.
NO spitting or drinking through a straw or “sippy” cup for 24 hours. The force can start the bleeding again.
A clean mouth heals faster. Gentle brushing around the extraction site can be started immediately along with warm salt-water rinses (1/4 teaspoon to a glass of water) to aid with any discomfort.
Activity may need to be limited.
Your child’s cheek, lip and tongue will be numb for approximately 1-2 hours. Please be very careful that your child does not bite at his/her cheek or scratch this area. As this area “wakes up” it may feel funny. A self-inflicted bite injury is the most common post-op complication. Please monitor your child closely.
Post-Op Instructions Care of the Mouth after Local Anesthetic
Your child has had local anesthetic for his/her dental procedure:
If the procedure was in the lower jaw… the tongue, teeth, lip and surrounding tissue will be numb.
If the procedure was in the upper jaw… the teeth, lip and surrounding tissue will be numb.
Often, children do not understand the effects of local anesthesia, and may chew, scratch, suck, or play with the numb lip, tongue, or cheek. These actions can cause minor irritations or they can be severe enough to cause swelling and abrasions to the tissue. Please watch your child closely for approximately two hours following the appointment. It is our recommendation to keep your child on a liquid or soft diet until the anesthetic has worn off.
What causes bad breath?
What you eat affects the air you exhale. Certain foods, such as garlic and onions, contribute to objectionable breath odor. Once the food is absorbed into the bloodstream, it is transferred to the lungs, where it is expelled. Brushing, flossing and mouthwash will only mask the odor temporarily. Odors continue until the body eliminates the food. Dieters may develop unpleasant breath from infrequent eating.
If you don’t brush and floss daily, particles of food remain in the mouth, collecting bacteria, which can cause bad breath. Food that collects between the teeth, on the tongue and around the gums can rot, leaving an unpleasant odor. Dentures that are not cleaned properly can also harbor odor-causing bacteria and food particles.
One of the warning signs of periodontal (gum) disease is persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth. Periodontal disease is caused by plaque, the sticky, colorless film of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth. The bacteria create toxins that irritate the gums. In the advanced stage of the disease, the gums, bone and other structures that support the teeth become damaged. With regular dental checkups, your dentist can detect and treat periodontal disease early.
Bad breath is also caused by dry mouth (xerostomia), which occurs when the flow of saliva decreases. Saliva is necessary to cleanse the mouth and remove particles that may cause odor. Dry mouth may be caused by various medications, salivary gland problems or continuously breathing through the mouth. If you suffer from dry mouth, your dentist may prescribe an artificial saliva, or suggest using sugarless candy and increasing your fluid intake.
Tobacco products cause bad breathe, stain teeth, reduce one’s ability to taste foods and irritate gum tissues. Tobacco users are more likely to suffer from periodontal disease and are at greater risk for developing oral cancer. If you use tobacco, ask your dentist for tips on kicking the habit.
Bad breath may be the sign of a medical disorder, such as a local infection in the respiratory tract (nose throat, windpipe, lungs), chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, liver or kidney ailment. If your dentist determines that your mouth is healthy, you may be referred to your family doctor or a specialist to determine the cause of bad breath.
Eliminating periodontal disease and maintaining good oral health is essential to reducing bad breath. Schedule regular dental visits for a professional cleaning and checkup. If you think you have constant bad breath, keep a log of the foods you eat and make a list of medications you take. Some medications may play a role in creating mouth odors. Let your dentist know if you’ve had any surgery or illness since your last appointment.
Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove food debris and plaque. Brush your tongue, too. Once a day, use floss or an interdental cleaner to clean between teeth. If you wear removable dentures, take them out at night. Clean them thoroughly before replacing them the next morning.
Mouthwashes are generally cosmetic and do not have a long-lasting effect on bad breath. If you must constantly use a breath freshener to hide unpleasant mouth odor, see your dentist. If you need extra help in controlling plaque, your dentist may recommend using a special antimicrobial mouth rinse. A fluoride mouth rinse, used along with brushing and flossing, can help prevent tooth decay.
** Compliments of American Dental Association
What is the American Dental Association (ADA)?
The not-for-profit ADA is the nation’s largest dental association, representing more than 155,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public’s health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA’s state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer and professional products.
What is the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) is the membership organization representing the specialty of pediatric dentistry. Our 7,000 members work in private offices, clinics and hospital settings and serve as primary care providers for millions of infants, children, adolescents and patients with special health care needs. In addition, AAPD members serve as the primary contributors to professional education programs and scholarly works concerning dental care for children.
The mission of the AAPD is to advocate policies, guidelines and programs that promote optimal oral health and oral health care for children. The AAPD serves and represents its membership in the areas of professional development and governmental and legislative activities. It is a liaison to other health care groups and the public.
The vision of the AAPD is optimal health and care for infants, children, adolescents and persons with special health care needs. The AAPD is the leader in representing the oral health interests of children. The pediatric dentist is a recognized primary oral health care provider and resource for specialty referral.
Pediatric Dentistry: A Recognized Dental Specialty
Pediatric dentistry is one of the nine recognized dental specialties of the American Dental Association. Pediatric dentists complete two to three years of additional specialized training (after the required four years of dental school) to prepare them for treating a wide variety of children’s dental problems. They are also trained and qualified to care for patients with medical, physical or mental disabilities.