Pearls of Wisdom
Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry and specialize on the oral health of young people. Your child sees a pediatric dentist for dental care for the same reason that your child sees a pediatrician for medical care.
After completing dental school, pediatric dentists are required to complete two to three additional years of special residency training. The specialized training includes an emphasis on trauma, behavior management, infant oral health, interceptive orthodontics, sedation and hospital dentistry.
Children benefit most from individualized approaches that are specific to their age and developmental stages. Treatment planning for a child in early and developmental years has very different considerations than treatment planning for adults. Pediatric dentists understand and are experienced in dealing with the unique dental issues and concerns that go along with each stage of childhood, as well as in managing your child’s experience.
Not all pediatric dentists are board certified. After completing their two years of specialized training, pediatric dentists may voluntarily undergo a rigorous examination process to become certified by the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry.
In order to remain a board certified dentist, the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry requires its members undergo an annual recertification process involving continuing education and testing to remain up-to-date on the latest developments of dental treatment, research, and technology.
Dr. Fong is a board certified pediatric dentist.
The most important reason is to begin a thorough prevention program. Dental problems can begin early. Dental caries is the most common infectious disease in US children, and more than 40% of children have caries before they start kindergarten. A major concern in early childhood is baby bottle tooth decay and once a child’s diet includes anything besides breast-milk, erupted teeth are at risk for decay. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems.
By establishing us as your child’s dental home by their first birthday, you and your child will be able to receive the appropriate instruction and care to maintain a healthy and bright smile. It also means that you will have somewhere to go if your child ever experiences a bump, fall or accident to the mouth.
Beginning dental visits early allows your child to become acquainted and at ease with the dentist starting from a young age. By following your child from an early age, we can instill good oral hygiene and dietary habits in order to prevent decay. However, if a cavity does develop, we are able to catch it early and perform minimally invasive treatment.
It is very important that baby teeth are kept in place until they are lost naturally. Even though baby teeth will eventually fall out, they still serve a significant purpose to your child’s oral and overall growth and development and need to be maintained until they are ready to be lost naturally.
Baby teeth serve a critical function with an infant’s eating and nutrition, and are also responsible for proper speech development. Baby teeth also set the stage for how the jaws and permanent teeth will develop, as well as impact the development of facial muscles. In addition, children are as susceptible as adults to plaque and gingivitis. A healthy mouth is also important for aesthetics and impacts a child’s self-esteem and confidence in their appearance.
By failing to address dental disease early on, this can lead to dental infections and tooth pain well before the baby tooth is ready to naturally fallout on its own. Your child may become irritable and have difficulty eating, drinking, sleeping and going to school. Some baby teeth are not replaced until a child is 12 years old and so it is important to keep baby teeth in place until they are lost naturally.
Having a positive attitude can make all the difference. We are experienced in working with fearful and anxious children, and we will explain our dental instruments, equipment, and procedures in a non-threatening and constructive way to avoid any negative feelings towards dentistry. All of our actions and words are chosen carefully and deliberately in order to give your child the best chance for success at his/her visit.
We also specialize in the care of special needs patients.
X-rays are necessary in order for us to properly diagnose and formulate a treatment plan for your child. Without x-rays, certain dental conditions can and will be missed. Dental radiographs are used to:
- assess for cavities between teeth
- identify additional or missing teeth
- see the results of dental trauma and injuries
- detect bone disease, tooth anomalies, and other oral pathology
- evaluate oral growth and development of the teeth and jaws for orthodontics
Dental radiographs allow us to form a comprehensive diagnosis and to be more conservative in dental treatment. As a child’s mouth grows and changes, x-rays provide important information that a visual examination cannot. By taking x-rays periodically based on your child’s individual risk for cavities, we are able to detect dental decay early, allowing for less invasive and cost-effective treatment. In some cases, dental disease may be detected at its initial stage of development, which gives your child the chance to make the cavity go away on its own (without invasive treatment) through an individualized home care plan. In doing so, your child is able to avoid having a filling placed.
Yes. We use the latest in digital x-rays, which minimizes the exposure of radiation to your child. In addition, we always use a lead apron with a thyroid collar.
To lend some perspective to the question, according to the EPA, the average American is exposed to 620mrem of radiation per year. Normal sources of radiation include:
- From normal breathing of air – 228mrem per year
- From food and water – 40mrem per year
- Terrestrial radiation from the ground – 28mrem per year
- Cosmic radiation from space – 27mrem per year
- Cooking with natural gas – 10mrem per year
- Living in a stone, brick, or concrete building – 7mrem per year
- Round trip cross country flight – 5mrem
- Sleeping next to a person – 2mrem per year
- Digital dental x-ray – 0.1mrem per year
Fluoride is a naturally occurring chemical found in minerals, tea leaves, drinking water and foods.
Fluoride is important because it works in several ways to protect your child’s teeth from cavities.
- In fluoride’s topical form, such as in toothpaste and mouthwashes, fluoride prevents the loss of essential minerals from the enamel (demineralization) when attacked by bacteria and acid from foods and beverages. Fluoride will also incorporate itself into the enamel to help strengthen or harden the tooth (remineralization). In addition, fluoride disrupts the metabolism of the bacteria that cause cavities, so the bacteria produce less acid which helps prevent cavities.
- In fluoride’s systemic form, such as when swallowed from NYC’s tap water, fluoride will help strengthen you child’s permanent teeth while they are developing within the jaw bones.
We recommend a dental check-up at least twice a year for most children. Some children require more frequent dental visits because of increased risk of tooth decay, unusual growth patterns or poor oral hygiene. We will let you know the best appointment schedule for your child.