Phillip Strickland, DMD
Morgan Boaen Smith, DMD
Board Certified Pediatric Dentists
At Dogwood Pediatric Dentistry, our mission is to offer comprehensive, effective, and comfortable pediatric dental treatment to patients in the Savannah and Statesboro, GA areas. We believe every child deserves to grow up with a healthy, beautiful smile, and our pediatric dentists work closely with patients to create personalized treatment plans and ensure every visit to our office is a pleasant one. We also know that patient education is vital to successful treatment – so if you have questions on pediatric dentistry, you can use this FAQ page to get answers.
What is a pediatric dentist?
Put simply, pediatric dentists are dentists that specialize in caring for the teeth of children and teenagers. Becoming a certified pediatric dentist requires two years of specialized training on top of dental school, which prepares pediatric dentists to not only address dental diseases and conditions, but to ensure that treatment supports proper dental development. This is necessary because infants, toddlers, children, pre-teens, and teenagers all have specialized dental needs dependent on where they are developmentally. Plus, pediatric dentists are trained on different approaches to dealing with behavior, allowing them to ensure positive experiences even for very young children. Our pediatric dentists, Dr. Krista and Dr. Phillip, both have years of experience treating children in Savannah and Statesboro.
When should my child first see the dentist?
In keeping with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, we ask parents to schedule their child’s first dentist's appointment around their 1st birthday, or 6 months after the eruption of their first tooth – whichever comes first. We likely won't provide any treatment at this early age, but starting dental evaluation this early allows us to ensure dental development progresses normally.
How often should my child visit the dentist?
Generally speaking, children should visit their pediatric dentist for a dental check-up appointment once every 6 months. However, every child is different, and the ideal frequency of check-ups depends on the specifics of your child's dental condition and development. Our pediatric dentists will talk with you about the best schedule for check-ups based on your child's unique needs.
Are baby teeth important?
Absolutely! It is vitally important to maintain the health of primary teeth (baby teeth). Neglected cavities can cause pain and infection, and it can also lead to problems that affect the development of the permanent teeth. Baby teeth also play a crucial role in supporting a number of physiological and mental developments including:
Why does my child need dental x-rays?
Radiographs, more commonly known as x-rays, are a vital part of how we diagnose and monitor your child's dental health and development. X-rays allow us to spot cavities that can't be seen otherwise, and they also help us evaluate the development of unerupted teeth, evaluate the results of an injury, and plan orthodontic treatment. X-rays allow us to spot and diagnose dental problems early, which means we can use gentler treatments that are more comfortable for your child and more affordable for you.
On average, our office will request bitewing radiographs approximately once a year and panoramic radiographs every 3-5 years. If your child has a high risk of tooth decay, we may recommend radiographs and examinations every six months.
On top of all this, dental x-rays are 100% safe. With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental x-ray examination is extremely small. In fact, the dental radiographs represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem. Lead body aprons and shields will protect your child, and today's equipment restricts the beam to the area of interest. All in all, dental x-rays often produce less radiation exposure than a ride on an airplane!
What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants are a preventive treatment that helps to prevent cavities in children.
A sealant is a clear or shaded plastic material that is applied to the chewing surfaces (grooves) for the back teeth (premolars and molars), where most cavities in children can form. This sealant acts as a barrier to food, plaque, and acid, thus protecting the decay-prone areas of the teeth. However, cavities between the teeth are not protected by sealants, which means strong oral hygiene is still critically important. Sealants are recommended by the American Dental Association as a preventive treatment for all children, barring unusual circumstances.
What is a dental filling?
Dental fillings are used to treat cavities. First, our dentist will carefully remove any decayed tooth material and sterilize the area, then place a filling to restore the tooth to its normal appearance and function. Our Savannah pediatric dentists generally use tooth-colored composite fillings, but there are certain situations in which a silver filling is necessary.
What are dental crowns?
In a primary tooth, if a cavity is too large to restore with a filling, we may recommend a dental crown. Dental crowns are essentially artificial "caps" that go over the top of a damaged tooth, and they're specially sculpted to mirror the function and appearance of a normal tooth. If the cavity is too large and has reached the nerve of the tooth, then we'll use a treatment called a pulpotomy (also called a root canal) to remove the diseased nerve and dental tissue, then place a crown to restore the tooth.
We offer tooth-colored crowns as well as crowns made from stainless steel. For front teeth, white crowns are routinely used for esthetics. For back teeth, stainless steel crowns are used for their durability and longevity. The purpose of the crown is to help provide structure for the tooth, to maintain space for permanent teeth to erupt properly, and to help protect the remaining natural tooth.
At our practice, we're proud to have expert dentists and pediatric dental specialists, which means your child always gets the best treatment possible. But it's important to remember that no matter what the treatment, all dental procedures are associated with a certain failure rate depending on the severity of disease, the patient's cooperation during treatment, and individual response to the treatment. All treatment is recommended based on scientific criteria and clinical experience in the best interest of your child. If your child needs any of the above treatments, please talk to our staff about any questions or concerns that you may have.
What about sedation?
As your local Statesboro sedation dentist, we're proud to offer a wide range of options for sedation dentistry depending on the specific needs of your child.
For children who feel comfortable at the dentist's office and don't have problems cooperating, we can perform small procedures under local anesthesia with or without nitrous oxide. When sedation is required, the most common form of sedation we routinely use in our office is nitrous oxide (laughing gas). This is given through a small breathing mask which is placed over the child's nose. The AAPD recognizes this technique as a very safe, effective technique to help relax your child during treatment.
For more involved or extensive procedures, we may couple nitrous oxide with an oral sedative medication to help further relax your child and ensure they have a good treatment experience. We use a relatively gentle oral sedative that helps children feel comfortable and calm during the procedure but still remain conscious, and our pediatric dentists are careful to match dosage to your child's body and the needs of the procedure. Keep in mind, though, oral sedation requires your child to be fasting the morning of the procedure and to be free of any respiratory symptoms in the two weeks prior to the procedure. We monitor the children during sedation with a pulse oximeter. Most children feel fine after the procedure, but your child will likely feel groggy for a while, and they may experience some nausea. For that reason, we normally ask that two adults be present so that one is able to sit in the back seat with your child on the drive home.
Some dental problems, however, require a more extensive amount of dental work, and this can make it very difficult for small children to fully cooperate for the full length of the procedure. In these cases, we may recommend treating your child in the operating room under general anesthesia.
What should be done about a cut or bitten tongue, lip, or cheek?
Cuts inside the mouth are common and usually heal on their own. Apply ice to any bruised areas, and if there is bleeding in the mouth, carefully apply firm pressure to the wound using a clean piece of gauze or cloth. If bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes or it cannot be controlled by simple pressure, take your child to the emergency room.
If the child chews their lip, tongue, or cheek area after completion of dental treatment, an antibiotic may be necessary. Please call our office.
What can I do about my child’s toothache?
Toothaches are another common problem for children, and while they may not require treatment, they are something to pay close attention to. If your child has a toothache, clean the area around the sore tooth carefully, using a toothbrush and dental floss to dislodge any impacted food or debris. Next, have them rinse their mouth with a warm saltwater solution. Make sure to NEVER place aspirin on the gum or on the aching tooth. If the face is swollen or the pain still persists, contact our office as soon as possible.
My child accidentally knocked out her permanent tooth, what should I do?
Knocking out a permanent tooth is a dental emergency and should be treated as such, but it's often possible to save the tooth with prompt treatment. If you can find the tooth, pick it up by the crown (not the root) and carefully clean it with water, then place it back into the socket if possible. If you can't put it back into the socket, place it in a cup or bag filled with milk and keep it with you. Regardless, call our office immediately to schedule an emergency appointment and make sure to bring the tooth with you to your appointment. If it's after hours or you think your child may have suffered damage to their jawbone, head straight to the emergency room.
What do I do if my child fractures a tooth?
Chips, cracks, and fractures in teeth should be addressed immediately. First, remove any debris by rinsing the injured area with warm water. Place a cold compress on your child's face over the area of the injury to prevent swelling, and if the affected tooth is sensitive, try applying Vaseline over the affected area to decrease sensitivity. Look for any broken tooth fragments you can find and place them in a cup or bag filled with milk, then call us immediately to schedule an emergency appointment.
We hope this FAQ helped answer some of your questions about pediatric dental treatment, but as always, we're here to help if you'd like more information. Contact us today to learn more about our practice and the treatments we offer, or to schedule your next appointment at one of our offices. We can't wait to hear from you, and we look forward to helping your child achieve a healthy, beautiful smile!
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