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Pediatric Dentist

7 Reasons a Pediatric Dentist Might Recommend Treating Primary Teeth

By Pediatric Dentist

I am writing for a second opinion on what my daughter’s pediatric dentist  recommended. It’s hard to decide if a 5 year old should get all the treatment that is being recommended. She has cavities in 3 of her back molars and the dentist wants to fill them and put sealants over all of her molars. If these are baby teeth, should we really be that concerned?  – Sabreena


Primary back molars aren’t replaced with permanent teeth until about 12 years of age. Although one of our pediatric dentists would need to examine your daughter’s teeth to give precise treatment recommendations, it sounds as if your daughter’s dentist is genuinely concerned about her oral health.  If you decide to leave your daughter’s cavities untreated, keep in mind the following factors.

Why a Pediatric Dentist Might Recommend Treating Primary Teeth

  • Untreated cavities will continue to spread.
  • If decay takes over her teeth, they can become infected and require treatment from an endodontist, or be lost prematurely.
  • Chewing without back molars will become difficult.
  • Absence of the molars may cause other teeth to shift.
  • Missing primary molars affect how permanent teeth grown in. This can create a need for orthodontic treatment as your daughter matures.
  • Failure to treat the teeth that have cavities can result in more costly dental treatment in the future.
  • Your daughter’s pediatric dentist is likely recommending sealants to protect your daughter’s teeth from bacteria and decay.

What Is Causing the Problem?

In addition to filling the cavities, it is helpful to consider the cause of the cavities. Some possible causes of frequent cavities include:

Nutrition habits

  • Inadequate or improper brushing and flossing
  • Frequent snacking
  • Frequently eating sugary snacks or drinking soda can accelerate tooth decay.

Limiting sugary snacks and drinks can improve oral health.

Medical conditions

If none of these nutrition issues exist, your dentist may more closely examine your daughter’s teeth and determine if a medical issue or any prescription medication your child may be taking is promoting cavities.

Fluoride mouth rinse or prescription fluoride toothpaste will help protect her teeth. Filling the cavities in your daughter’s teeth and protecting her molar teeth with sealants makes good sense. It can preserve your daughter’s teeth, help primary teeth grow correctly, and help her maintain good oral health.

This post is sponsored by Dr. Anthony LaVacca of Naperville Dental Specialists.

Should I switch to a pediatric dentist from our family dentist?

By Pediatric Dentist No Comments

Will you please give me some advice on whether or not I should switch my daughter to a pediatric dentist? When I moved to IL, I chose a family dentist because I figured my husband and I, along with our 3 kids could all use the same dentist. We both had appointments and we really like the dentist.

At my last visit, I told our dentist that I have to schedule appointments for our kids. Then he asked me their ages. They are 8, 4 and 2. It’s hard to believe, but my dentist said, “I’ll see the 8-year-old.” So I went through all of this trouble to find a family dentist that we like and he doesn’t want to see 2 of my children? He said he sees kids ages 6 and up. Shouldn’t someone have told me that before we decided to use this dentist? Can the kids wait until they are 6 years old or should I switch them to a pediatric dentist? Thanks. Onya

Onya – Although your dentist is a family dentist, it’s clear that he is uncomfortable seeing kids who are under 6 years old. It’s good that you didn’t try to convince him to see your youngest children because the dental visits would probably stressful for your kids.

At What Age Should Your Child See a Pediatric Dentist?

The decision to switch dentists is ultimately yours, but there are several things to keep in mind:

  • Pediatric dentists recommend that parents schedule a visit when a child’s first tooth erupts.
  • Issues with tooth development can occur at an early age. It’s a good time to see a dentist for early detection.
  • Primary teeth that erupt incorrectly can affect the growth and development of permanent teeth.

A pediatric dentist will be happy to see your two- and four-year-old children. You can also find a family dentist who treats children your age. Another option is to find a dental practice that has both general and pediatric dentists in the same office.

We suggest that you schedule a consultation with at least two dental offices before you choose another dentist. Consultations give you the opportunity to meet the staff, see the office, and see how the staff relates to your children.

This post is sponsored by Naperville Dental Specialists, the office of Dr. Anthony LaVacca.


Should a pediatric dentist or a pediatrician apply fluoride varnish?

By Pediatric Dentist

Should a primary care dentist or a pediatric dentist do fluoride varnish on my kids’ teeth? I took my 2 kids for their annual physical and the doctor did an oral exam for both of them. She suggested that I schedule an appointment for them to get fluoride varnish on their teeth. Neither of the kids have been to the dentist yet. They are 1 ½ and 2 ½ years old. Did I wait too long to take them to a dentist. I’m not going to let a primary care doctor do any dental work. Is this common? Should I take them to a pediatric dentist or can they wait to get fluoride varnish? – Galina

Galina – Both pediatric dentists and pediatricians coat kids’ teeth with fluoride varnish. It’s safe, preventive care to help prevent tooth decay. The entire white surface of teeth is coated with the varnish.

How Pediatric Dentists Apply Fluoride Varnish

It’s easy:

  • Your kids’ teeth will be cleaned and dried.
  • Varnish is painted on the teeth—from the gumline to the top.
  • The varnish will harden in a few minutes.
  • The varnish needs time to penetrate the teeth, so you’ll wait until the next day before brushing your kids’ teeth.
  • Although the outer layer of varnish will brush off, the varnish itself will have penetrated your kids’ teeth and help protect them from cavities.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children see a dentist when their first tooth erupts. Tooth eruption allows a pediatric dentist to see if teeth are developing properly. The dentist can also look for signs of disease or improper spacing or eruption. Any problems can be caught early so permanent teeth can be healthy and correctly positioned.

Schedule Consultations

Schedule consultations with two or three pediatric dentists and take your kids with you. It will give you a chance to see the office, meet the staff, and determine if you and your children will be comfortable there.

This post is sponsored by Naperville Dental Specialists, the office of Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Pediatric dental visit – should I stay with my child?

By Pediatric Dentist No Comments

We relocated to IL 2 months ago. My son needs to have a dental cleaning in January. I called 3 different pediatric dentist’s offices and asked a few questions. They all said it’s up to me whether or not I stay in the treatment room with my son. Our dentist in PA didn’t want me to come into the office with my son even though I wanted to do so. Now that I’m being given the opportunity, I’m wondering if I should go in with him, or if I will mess things up. My son didn’t hate going to the dentist, but neither was he eager to go. I’m just kind of curious about how he is responding while sitting in the dental chair. Should I go in the treatment room with him or leave things as they are? Thank you! Kristiana


Some pediatric dentists encourage parents to come into the treatment room with their children, while other dentists discourage it. The reasons parents are asked to stay in, or leave, the operatory/treatment room can vary, including:

  • Some dentists want a parent to be present in the operatory at some point as a way to educate parents about their kids’ oral health.
  • The dental team might want to establish a positive relationship with the child without interference from the parent.
  • Some parents interject during treatment and create tension with the child and/or dental staff.
  • Many offices don’t have a preference and give parents the choice of joining their child or waiting in the reception area.

Tips for Staying or Leaving the Pediatric Dentist’s Treatment Room

If you stay in the treatment room during your son’s visit to the pediatric dentist, there are a few things you can do to make the visit more comfortable for you, your child, and the dental team.

  • Sit or stand in a location that doesn’t interfere with the movement of the dental staff. Let your child know you’ll be in the room, but not in front of or beside him.
  • Be careful with your facial expressions and body language. If your child is able to sense that you’re concerned about something, it can make him upset.
  • Observe, but don’t talk too much with the dental team or your child, unless the dental team invites you to do so. Allow time for the dental team to build a positive rapport with your child.
  • Young children might need reassurance, so the dentist or hygienist might ask you to hold your child’s hand or otherwise provide comfort.

If you decide to wait in the reception area, there are a few reminders:

  • The dental team will keep you informed about your child’s well-being.
  • Stay at the office. Avoid leaving to run errands or take care of business.
  • Issues might arise that can be treated during the visit. Before the pediatric dentist can provide treatment, your consent will be required.

Before You Choose a Dentist

Before you schedule an appointment for your son, we suggest that you schedule consultations at two or three pediatric dental offices. Take your child with you. During your visits, observe the following:

  • Office environment
  • How the staff receives you and your child
  • How your child reacts to the office and staff
  • Is the office really kid friendly?
  • How the pediatric dentist interacts with you and your child

This post is sponsored by Naperville Dental Specialists, the office of Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Why do teeth sealants from a pediatric dentist keep falling out?

By Pediatric Dentist

Can you tell me why teeth sealants from a pediatric dentist would keep falling out? It seems that whenever my son goes to the dentist, either he has a new cavity or a sealant has fallen out and needs to be replaced. At first I thought his dentist was just being thorough, but now I’m getting suspicious as to whether or not he is just looking for ways to make money. Even though we have excellent dental coverage, I do care about wasting money on unnecessary expenses. How long are sealants supposed to last? I don’t want my son to starting hating dental visits because he never has a cavity free or issue free checkup. Thanks. Ana

Ana – Dental sealants are very effective in preventing tooth decay—particularly in teeth with deep crevices. But they should not continually fall out.

When properly placed, sealants can last up to ten years. They should at least last several years, but your dentist should occasionally check them to ensure they are intact.

What Can Cause Sealants to Loosen and Fall Out?

  • Failure to properly clean, dry, or roughen the tooth surface before placing the sealant
  • Inadequate tooth coverage
  • Consistently chewing hard or sticky foods
  • Natural wear over time

Sealants should be placed to last. Take note of the age of the sealants that need to be replaced. If they were placed within the last year, ask your son’s dentist if he can redo the sealants free of charge. You can also ask why the sealants continuously need to be replaced. If you continue to suspect that unnecessary treatment is being recommended, or that you are being overcharged, consider taking your son to a reputable pediatric dentist for a second opinion.

You can ask friends or family members for recommendations of a new pediatric dentist. Also, check the dentist’s online reviews. Remember that you don’t have to commit to keeping the new dentist. You can even request a consultation before scheduling a regular visit for your son.

This post is sponsored by award-winning Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.


Does My Breastfed Baby Need a Pediatric Dentist Checkup?

By Pediatric Dentist No Comments

Do breastfed babies really need to see a pediatric dentist for a checkup? I’m getting conflicting information. My son is nine months old and has been exclusively breastfed the entire time. We’re now starting to introduce some table foods when he shows an interest in them. He has only had teeth for a couple of months and, because nursing is not the same as formula feeding, I don’t see any value in scheduling a visit. Is there a real reason a checkup is recommended regardless of how the baby is fed, or is it ok for low-risk groups (like breastfed babies) to skip the one-year checkup? Alya

Alya – This is a great question! Many parent wonder when they should take child for a first pediatric dentist’s visit. You made a lot of good points. Breastfeeding is totally different from formula/ bottle feeding.

First, the content is naturally different. Secondly, the mechanics are different. Instead of bringing the formula into his mouth where it would pool with a bottle, he pulls it farther back which stimulates the natural swallow response and very little (if any) tooth exposure happens.

Moreover, there is mounting evidence that breastfeeding may actually protect children against cavities. If the mom has built up enough cavity-fighting bacteria, she can share that in her milk, so it would seem these little ones have a whole lot going for them and might not need to see a pediatric dentist. But, it’s never that simple.

Breastfed Babies Need to See Pediatric Dentists for Checkups

There are many reasons why it’s wise to get your son’s teeth checked out by a pediatric dentist.

Genetics: Your baby’s teeth started developing in the womb. If there’s anything abnormal about his oral development, it’s good to catch and treat it early.

Bacteria: Parents usually share food with their kids. What they don’t realize is that they are sharing bacteria as well. This can be beneficial because some bacteria are good and help keep your oral health balanced. It fights off the bad bacteria that cause cavities. On the other hand, it can be bad, because you’re also sharing cavity-causing bacteria. Studies have shown that parents with periodontal disease and cavities have higher levels of bad bacteria. And they almost always pass it off to their kids through kisses and sharing food.

Cavities: Even exclusively breastfed (EBF) babies who haven’t received cavity-causing germs can still get cavities. At this point, there’s nothing to suggest they are at a higher risk, but it is possible that an EBF baby could still pool milk in his mouth if he falls asleep eating. That ferments and goes bad. Whether or not it causes cavities, science has not conclusively decided, but it certainly has the potential.

Follow Good Oral Hygiene Practices to Be Safe

The first pediatric dental visit is quick, and most insurances cover it in full. If spending a few minutes in the office can help you and your child avoid future dental problems, it’s well worth it. Yes, you’ll likely be told your son is fine, but how would you feel if he wasn’t and you could have helped him before something became a real problem?

Meanwhile, be sure you’re brushing your son’s teeth or using a special wipe/tool to clean his teeth after he eats and before bed. You can also offer him water after meals to help rinse away residue. Although these are only his primary teeth, they will impact the health of his adult teeth. It’s important to establish good practices early.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.


Three tips for finding a new pediatric dentist

By Pediatric Dentist

Since May, I’ve been looking for a new pediatric dentist for my kids. I thought I found the right one, so I scheduled an appointment for my kids in mid-June. They went for their first cleaning appointment, but the kids don’t like the dentist and neither do I. I think that the dentist seems too much in a hurry. She seems like she really doesn’t like kids either. I asked her how many children she has, and she looked at me and said, “Are you kidding? None.” Why would I have been kidding, and why would she respond like that to me as the parent of her patients? It was rude. Based on her response with my children I was wondering if she likes kids at all. It does help me understand her behavior toward her patients, though. Now my search is back on, but I don’t want to keep putting my children through experiences like these. I want to get it right before their next cleaning in December. How can I find the right pediatric dentist for my kids? Thank you. Xenia

Xenia – There are several ways to find reliable information on a pediatric dentist. There is a lot of information online and there are other things you can do to help make your search successful. We have several suggestions:

Patient reviews – You can find candid patient reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook. Read each review carefully, and look for details provided about the care received. Keep in mind that for each dentist, you can find good and bad reviews, but the negative reviews should be few. Don’t be overly alarmed about a few negative reviews, but pay attention to details given for reasons that a patient or parent isn’t satisfied. Ensure the dentist has plenty of reviews for you to be able to make a good decision.

Recommendations from people you know – If you have friends, family members, or co-workers who have children, ask them about their pediatric dentist. If you know their kids, ask the parent for permission to speak with the kids about their dentist. Ask them what they do or don’t like about their dentist. Sometimes the best recommendations come from referrals.

Request a complimentary visit – It provides an opportunity for you and your kids to see the dentist’s office, meet staff members, and meet at least one dentist in the practice before you schedule exams for your kids. Let the scheduler know you are looking for a new dentist. If an office refuses to schedule a complimentary visit, it’s probably not the best option for you and your kids anyway. A complimentary visit will give you a chance to see how your children respond in the environment and how staff members respond to children.

Best wishes.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.




How long can my teenage twins stay at the pediatric dentist?

By Pediatric Dentist

I have 17 yr old twins who still see their pediatric dentist. I’ve tried to encourage them to start going to my family dentist but they don’t want to do it. I’ve spoken with their pediatric dentist about it too but she doesn’t seem to see the need for them to change. I am concerned about the wisdom teeth stage and any other adult oral health problems that might come up and the pediatric dentist isn’t trained to handle them. Then the girls will have to switch to my dentist and there will be no transition time. Does this make sense? I’m trying to be reasonable about this, but at the same time just need to know if there are some factors I haven’t considered. Do we need to switch the girls to my family dentist? Miriam

Miriam – There are no age rules for when your teenagers have to switch from a pediatric dentist to a family dentist. Many family dentists see children from their early years through adulthood. As children mature, a pediatric dentist’s office environment and young patient base often make them want to progress to a new dentist. But if your children are still comfortable there, it’s not necessary for them to move on just yet.

Generally after age 18, a pediatric dentist will refer children to a general dentist. Some offices allow them to stay longer. Although it’s not the case with your children, some pediatric dentists even retain certain special needs patients.

Over the next year or two, on occasion, you can speak with your children about their transition to your family dentist. Ask them to come with you to a dental appointment so they can see the office and meet the staff. When the time is right, their pediatric dentist can also explain why it’s time to switch.

If your teenagers aren’t experiencing any major dental issues, it’s best to let the switch happen naturally. They will gradually become more comfortable with the idea of going to your family dentist.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.




Pediatric dentist doesn’t know how to fix my son’s teeth with bonding

By Pediatric Dentist

I took my son to the pediatric dentist after he chipped 3 of his top front teeth while playing basketball. He is 14 yrs old. Caps aren’t necessary and there was no internal damage to his teeth. The dentist basically said, “No problem. I can make it look like his teeth were never chipped.” She was so confident that I didn’t ask any questions about how much bonding experience she has or anything. Last week my son got the bonding. When the dentist was finished, I thought it was a joke. It looks like she didn’t even try to match the bonding with my son’s teeth and it’s lumpy. I wanted to cry for my son, but I was trying to be strong for him. Truthfully, it’s the hottest mess I’ve ever seen. I can’t ask her to do it over because I don’t trust her.  How do we get the bonding off? I would rather see my son with chipped teeth than globs of bonding that look like gravel on his teeth. Thanks. Tabitha

Tabitha – Your son’s experience is unfortunate. Chipped teeth can be traumatic enough, but when a pediatric dentist tries to restore them, and it goes bad, it can make the situation worse.

You won’t be able to remove the bonding. If you try to, it can damage your son’s teeth even further. We recommend that you find a pediatric dentist with post-graduate training in cosmetic dentistry, or find a cosmetic dentist who accepts teenagers as patients.

A cosmetic dentist has a variety of composite colors and tools to ensure the restoration is seamless. That’s something you won’t find in the vast majority of pediatric dental offices. The good news is that chairside bonding can be completed in a single appointment. After you find a trained cosmetic dentist, your son can leave the office with a restored smile and more confidence.

Schedule consultations with two cosmetic dentists first. It will help you select the right dentist to remove the bumpy bonding and conceal your son’s chipped teeth.

You can kindly explain to your son’s pediatric dentist that it’s important to you and your son for the restoration to be invisible. A reasonable pediatric dentist will understand.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.


Should the pediatric dentist do x-rays on a 4 year old?

By Pediatric Dentist

Starting at age 2 I take all of my kids to the pediatric dentist. X-rays are not something that any of my older children got when they were so young. But my youngest daughter is now 4 years old. Over the past 2 dental checkups, she has had 4 cavities. On her last appointment, our pediatric dentist took x-rays. I know she is concerned about the cavities, but why can’t she just fill the teeth without the x-rays. Naturally, I’m concerned about the radiation on a young child. Is it normal to do x-rays on young kids? I’m not really sure why my daughter is getting cavities. I don’t give my kids sugar at all and I make sure all of their teeth are brushed and flossed every day. I’m just concerned. What’s your take on the x-rays? Simone

Simone – Your concern about your children’s oral health and overall health is completely understandable. Your daughter’s pediatric dentist likely took x-rays for good reasons.

Reasons a Pediatric Dentist Might Take X-rays

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) doesn’t have set guidelines on age for dental x-rays. The Guideline on Prescribing Dental Radiographs for Infants, Children, Adolescents, and Persons with Special Health Care Needs states that diagnostic studies should be based on each patient’s needs, not on age alone.

The AAPD has recommendations for when dental x-rays for a child patient might be needed, regardless of age. The recommendations are based on certain conditions, some of which are listed below:

  • A history of dental caries, or cavities – Posterior bitewing x-rays every 6 to 12 months if the teeth can’t be examined visually or with a probe.
  • Tooth pain or trauma
  • Family history of unusual dental issues
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Loose teeth
  • Unexplained bleeding or sensitivity
  • Unusual characteristics of teeth, including abnormal eruption, growth/development, color, or other unusual factors
  • Erosion
  • Swelling

Some Interesting Facts

  • There is minimal radiation exposure with dental x-rays.
  • Every year, we are exposed to natural background radiation from air, wind, water, the ground, and other environmental factors. Millisievert (mSv) is the measurement used for radiation exposure.
  • The mSv of natural background radiation is greater than the exposure from dental x-rays.
  • Visit the Image Gently website for a comparison chart of natural background radiation and dental x-rays.

Safety First

Although dental x-rays are safe, extra care is taken with radiographs for children. For example:

  • X-rays are not given as a routine, but only when necessary.
  • Patients are protected with a thyroid shield and an apron to minimize exposure.
  • Exposure parameters are set as slow as possible.
  • X-ray exposure time is shortened because children have smaller teeth than adults.

Speak with your children’s pediatric dentist for additional information on why x-rays are needed for your daughter. Learn about the safety precautions that are taken to minimize your daughter’s exposure. Cooperate with the dentist to help identify underlying causes of the recurring cavities to help limit future cavities and improve your daughter’s oral health.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

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