Frequently Asked Questions
As most of us are parents ourselves, we understand how important it is to do research when it comes to making healthcare decisions for your child. Have some questions for us? Check out our FAQs to see if your question has already been answered. If not, please get in touch with our office and we’d be happy to speak with you!Contact Us
The American Dental Association recommends that parents follow the rule of firsts. Children should visit the dentist by their first birthday or when their first tooth comes in, whichever comes first.
If it’s your first trip to our office, we recommend downloading and filling out the new patient forms ahead of time to expedite the check-in process. If you’re transferring your child from another dentist, please have them fax over their records. In addition to the forms, please bring an up-to-date insurance card (if applicable) and your ID.
Our youngest patients are newborn infants, and they usually present to the office in the care of their parents for assessment of oral restrictions (lip and tongue ties.) Usually, newborns are relatively sleepy, and the exam is straightforward. We lay them on a small green board on top of our patient benches, and parents sit adjacent and hold the baby’s hands. We look underneath the lip and tongue and at the cheeks, palate, and dental arches. We take intraoral photos with a special camera for the baby’s chart. If the baby gets upset and cries, it is usually momentary and is easily resolved when the baby is returned to their mother or father.
As babies and toddlers, our patients are curious, busy, and can be uncertain of new people and experiences. We do not expect children at this age to be eager to participate in their exam and cleaning. We typically begin the exam by discussing oral function in terms of speech, feeding, sleep, hygiene, and any oral habits our little ones may have. This is accomplished through a questionnaire that we discuss with the caregiver who brings the child to the appointment.
Next, we engage our little patient by reading a book about brushing teeth. Then we direct our little ones to recline on a patient chair. If they are interested in a particular show or movie, we can play that on a TV about their chair. We need caregiver’s help in holding our patient’s hands on their belly. We want to be careful and mindful not to hold our patients down, but rather limit untoward movement, like keeping hands from reaching up to grab instruments. As often as not, children at this age may become anxious, and their fight or flight response is triggered. If this is the case, we are expedient with the exam and cleaning. Depending on the number of teeth present and typically the lack of pathology present at this age, this is relatively fast and can take less than a few minutes. We want to be mindful of trauma and not introduce a traumatic experience into a little one’s frame of reference. Often our little ones will get upset and cry, especially because they are pre-communicative, and this is often the way they communicate that they are uncertain. If we remain calm and reassuring, use lots of praise and positive reinforcement, it can be an empowering experience for our little ones, especially if the period they are stressed is short and they are quickly returned to the arms of their parents.
During this exam, Dr. Laborde will assess lip and tongue attachment, assess oral function, examine and brush teeth with a soft bristle toothbrush and may scale any hard tartar, if needed. Fluoride varnish may be applied. The exam findings will be cross referenced with any parental concerns and/or any areas of concern discussed in the functional questionnaire that was discussed at the beginning of the visit.
If our families need to be connected to resources like speech, feeding, myofunctional therapy, or bodywork, we will discuss and make those arrangements, and any treatment needs will be discussed, and a plan of care determined by both Dr. Laborde and the family.
X-rays at this visit are determined largely by our ability to achieve “diagnostic yield,” meaning: the ability of our patient to sit still in the frame of time necessary to take the picture and hold the sensor in their mouth. If there is a particular area of concern, we may enlist the parent’s help to achieve imaging needs. Otherwise, we wait until our little ones are old enough to tolerate x-ray examination.
Young child exam
As our children get closer to 4 years old, the exam and cleaning tend to become easier. Our patients may remember us from previous visits. They are often speaking more and have more receptive language skills, and they may understand more about what is about to happen when they receive verbal instruction and information.
We begin the exam at this age by discussing the oral function questionnaire with caregivers and address any changes in social history, sleep, speech, eating, oral habits, and hygiene with the family.
X-rays and other imaging are determined by our patient’s age and risk of cavities and/or other pathology, as well as the need to assess growth and development. If possible, we take x-rays of the front teeth once every 1-2 years and pictures of the back teeth once a year. This frequency is tailored to the individual child’s needs and risk. If we have concerns regarding missing teeth, the eruption of 6-year molars, or the patient’s airway, we may take more global imaging that shows a larger area, like a panoramic x-ray or cephalometric x-ray.
Next, we may read a book, or sometimes our patients are engaged in a favorite show or movie on the television above the chair and are already relaxed. We may begin the cleaning with a toothbrush and transition to a motorized rubber cup dental brush with professional dental prophy toothpaste. Any hard tartar will be scaled if needed. The teeth are flossed, and fluoride varnish may be applied.
Dr. Laborde will assess lip and tongue attachment, assess oral function, and examine the teeth for cavities. We discuss if we are approaching the age of teeth becoming loose and new teeth coming in. If any treatment is needed, a plan of care is recommended and discussed with the family and finalized together. If the family needs to be connected to any resources, like speech, feeding, myofunctional therapy or, bodywork, that will be discussed and planned.
Older child exam
Our older children may be in transition between their baby and permanent teeth and are amid significant craniofacial growth and development. Often patients at this age are familiar in a dental setting. Some of our patients are very sensitive individuals, and as such, we take care with all our patients to be overtly gentle, kind, and compassionate.
We begin the exam by reviewing the oral function questionnaire with caregivers, discussing nutrition, sleep, speech, and any oral habits, like nail-biting, etc.
The cleaning at this age may be more extensive, as most smooth surfaces of baby teeth give way to larger, permanent teeth with more surface area and potentially more dental crowding. Typically, teeth are cleaned with a rubber cup prophy brush and professional prophy paste. The teeth are scaled as needed to remove hard tartar.
r. Laborde will examine the oral structures and teeth and check for cavities. Any treatment needs will be addressed with the family, and a plan of care will be finalized together.
Imaging at this age is typically x-rays to check between the teeth 1-2 times a year depending on the individual’s risk. We may take panoramic and or cephalometric x-ray to check growth and development.
If the family needs to be connected to resources, like speech, nutrition, myofunctional therapy or bodywork, or an orthodontist, those needs will be addressed as well.
Yes! We follow strict safety guidelines and have undergone extensive training to provide sedation dentistry at our practice. Your child’s safety is our number one priority. If you have any questions or concerns about sedation, please reach out to us!View Our Sedation Options
Here are some of the most common oral health problems that can benefit from restorative dentistry:
- Chipped or Cracked Tooth
- Dental Trauma
- Tooth Decay
- Knocked-Out Adult Tooth
Yes! Fluoridated toothpaste is safe for kids to use and helpful for keeping their teeth healthy and strong. However, you should only use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste on children ages three and under, as fluoride can be harmful if it’s swallowed in large quantities. Children develop the ability to spit around the age of three, so you can start incorporating larger portions of fluoridated toothpaste then!
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