Pediatric Dentistry

7 Common Questions About Pediatric Dentistry

Find the answers to your questions about pediatric dentistry.

When it comes to dental health, parents want nothing more than for their child to have a bright, healthy smile. A big part of building a foundation of strong oral health for your child is picking the right dental professional.

If you’re a new parent looking for the best dentist for your baby or you’re considering the benefits of switching your child from the family dentist to their own pediatric dentist, we’re here to help. Here are the answers to the 7 most common questions Dr. Shea gets from parents about pediatric dentistry.

1. What’s the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?

Family dentists provide general dental care for individuals and families, including children, while  pediatric dentists focus solely on providing dental care for children. Pediatric dental groups have no minimum patient age limit for kids and continue to provide care for their young patients up until high school and sometimes even the first year or two of college. Family dental groups may have a minimum patient age limit, usually around two to four years of age, and no maximum age limit.

Another significant difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist is education. After four years of dental school, pediatric dentists will undertake an additional two years of schooling completely focused on kids’ dental care, including diagnostics, treatment, and even soft skills training, such as interacting with children or treating kids with special needs.

2. What are the advantages of a pediatric dentist versus a family dentist?

The expertise of a pediatric dentist can’t be beaten. A skilled pediatric dentist like Dr. Shea is able to pick up on signs of trouble in a child’s oral development that a family dentist may not notice. In fact, family dentists may even refer their young patients to a dedicated pediatric practice for the treatment of trickier issues (i.e. chronic tooth decay or pediatric gum disease).

Pediatric dentists and their staff are also very knowledgeable in how to speak with kids, especially children with severe fear or special needs, putting them at ease, and helping them understand why oral health is important. Family dentists may love kids, but they are not required to undergo professional training in working with children..

3. Which dental care services can I expect from a pediatric dentist?

Pediatric dentists provide general dental care for kids, primarily focusing on preventive and restorative dentistry. Preventive dentistry is all about stopping problems before they happen through proper oral hygiene, diet recommendations, and the use of dental sealants to prevent decay. Restorative dentistry is used to treat an issue, such as tooth decay, through the use of fillings, crowns, bridges, etc.

Dr. Shea provides complete pediatric dental services as well as orthodontic evaluations and emergency dental care.

4. When should my child start seeing a dentist and how often should appointments be?

The American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) both recommend parents schedule their kids’ first appointment either within six months of their first tooth erupting or by their first birthday. Following through on this early appointment timeline is a fantastic way of getting your baby accustomed to seeing a dentist and having their mouth examined.

Most kids will do great with biannual check-ups and cleanings, just like adults. Your child’s dentist may also recommend more frequent appointments under special circumstances, such as to monitor a cavity prior to treatment.

5. My child is afraid of dentists. How can a pediatric dentist help them get over their fears?

Dental anxiety or fear of the dentist is completely normal, especially for kids who have just begun to visit a dentist on a regular basis. Pediatric dentists, like Dr. Shea and her team, have the training and experience with helping kids who are fearful or nervous. This includes comfort care practices, speaking in a kid-friendly manner, and providing gentle treatment.

With time and patience, many kids naturally develop more confidence and even look forward to their trips to the dentist.

6. In the event of a dental emergency, can a pediatric dentist help my child?

Emergency dental care for kids is an important consideration for parents. Accidents happen and when they do you’ll want to know exactly who to call. The good news is many pediatric dentists do offer emergency dental care for kids, including Dr. Shea.

If your child is experiencing a dental emergency, call our office right away and follow the instructions on our phone voicemail to access our emergency phone number. Dental emergencies include an adult tooth being knocked out, severe toothaches or pain, oral swelling, oral bleeding, or a broken tooth.

7. What can I expect during my kid’s first visit with a new pediatric dentist?

Your first appointment with Dr. Shea will be easy-breezy! The goal of the first appointment is for Dr. Shea and her team to meet you and your kids, discuss your child’s oral health, and conduct an initial examination. If a problem is spotted during the examination, Dr. Shea will also put together a treatment plan.

All you need to do as the parent is bring along your kids’ insurance cards and be sure you’ve filled out our New Patient forms. If you’re unable to fill out these forms, please arrive about 10 minutes early so you have time to complete paper copies before the appointment.

When you’re ready to schedule your child’s first visit with Dr. Shea, just give us a call!

You’ll find our contact information on our website or fill out this appointment request form—it’s up to you!

For urgent appointments or questions, calling our office directly is recommended. For non-emergencies during non-business hours, feel free to leave a message on our answering machine and we’ll get back to you the next day.

Pediatric Dentistry

What Can I Expect During My Kid’s First Dentist Visit?

Your child’s first dentist visit is a big milestone in their life—here’s how to prepare for it!

Your child’s smile lights up your world, and as a parent, you want to do everything possible to ensure their smile is bright and healthy. The first step towards investing in your child’s smile now and for the future starts with their first visit with a pediatric dentist.

Unlike general or family dentists, pediatric dentists focus solely on providing expert dental care just for kids. In addition to their expertise in kids’ oral health, pediatric dentists like Dr. Shea are also pros at interacting with children in a manner that boosts their confidence and engages their interest in caring for their teeth!

If you’re considering booking your child’s first appointment with Dr. Shea, here’s everything you need to know for the big day.

When to schedule your child’s first dental appointment.

Before we dive into what to expect during your child’s first dentist visit, let’s go over when parents should book that first appointment.

Dr. Shea highly recommends parents follow the American Dental Association (ADA) and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) guidelines, which advise that a child’s first dental appointment should happen within six months of them getting their first tooth or by their first birthday. After the initial dental visit, you can schedule your kids’ future appointments every six months, unless Dr. Shea recommends more frequent checkups.

How to prepare your child for their first visit with a dentist.

Before your child’s first dental visit, it’s a good idea to help prepare them for the big day. The smoother their first few visits go, the more positive a relationship they’ll develop with their dentist over time.

For babies and toddlers, you can help prepare them by getting them used to their mouths being examined. Take a look inside their mouths and gently feel around their gums with your finger or an infant toothbrush. Keep these sessions short, upbeat, and try to make it a fun game!

For older toddlers and kids, let them know about their new dentist and explain how a dentist is a helpful friend who wants them to have healthy teeth. Go over what may happen during the appointment and be cautious of the lingo you use. You want to keep a positive tone and be careful to not refer to the dentist or dental procedures in a way that may make your child think they have a reason to worry.

Ask your child if they have any questions and do your best to answer them. If your child does tell you they’re afraid, acknowledge this emotion and reassure them. Let them know it’s natural to feel a little worried, but reiterate that there’s no reason to feel afraid of their new dentist or the dental team.

What happens during your child’s first appointment?

Your child’s first dental appointment will be fairly simple and usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes.

There are two primary goals for a first visit:

  1. For your child to meet their new dentist and the dental team, and begin to develop a trusting relationship with them.
  2. For the dentist to get an idea of your child’s current oral health and to check for signs of trouble.

The bulk of the first appointment will be a thorough oral examination.

After introducing herself to you and your child, Dr. Shea will look inside your child’s mouth once they feel comfortable. She’ll take a close look at their teeth and gums as well as evaluate their bite alignment and jaw structure. For older children, Dr. Shea may also take x-rays.

During the examination, Dr. Shea will explain what she’s seeing and take note of any signs of an oral health issue. If Dr. Shea has found a problem, such as a cavity, she’ll go over what treatment options are available.

Dr. Shea will also go over in detail how to care for your child’s teeth at home.

Dental appointments are really important, but at-home oral hygiene is just as vital to your child’s long-term oral health.

Dr. Shea will explain what type of oral hygiene routine is best suited for your child based on their age. For babies who are just getting their teeth, Dr. Shea will cover how to clean their gums and budding teeth. For toddlers, you’ll learn what oral care products to use and how to introduce teeth brushing.

If your child is already learning to brush their own teeth, Dr. Shea will have them practice brushing and flossing so you and your child can get refreshed on proper technique together.

Don’t hesitate to ask us any questions you or your child might have.

There’s nothing Dr. Shea and her team love more than answering any question our patients’ inquisitive minds can think up. Encourage your child to ask us any questions they might have about their teeth or about dentists in general.

Parents should also feel free to ask us any questions they might have about their child’s oral health, whether it’s about picking the right kids’ toothpaste or what a smile-friendly diet looks like.

Ready to book your child’s first appointment with Dr. Shea?

Once you and your child are ready to meet Dr. Shea and her team, all you need to do is call our office or fill out our online appointment request form. Be sure to fill out the New Patient forms before their appointment, if you can to streamline your visit.

We look forward to meeting you and your family!


Also Read


When Kids Go Back to School Amid COVID-19

Help your children prepare for a return to school.

Since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has touched every aspect of our lives, from our social lives to our work and our kids’ education. 

By May, state officials closed the schools in 48 states for the rest of the 2020 academic year. That left more than 50 million public school students to finish out the school year from home. 

The question is, what about school in September? And when kids go back to school, what will education look like?

While state and local leaders are still deciding how to handle the upcoming school year, there are a few ways you can prepare. Read on to learn how you can help your child navigate the uncertainty and enjoy a healthy return to school. 

Understand the COVID-19 safety guidelines for your child’s school.

While there’s still a lot of uncertainty about whether or not schools will open in the fall, your child’s school might adopt some of the CDC’s reopening guidelines. Once the school releases a plan, make sure to read it carefully so you and your child know what to expect. 

Some schools might stagger the drop-off and pick-up times for students. The school might require mask-wearing, especially for older students. They may also space desks 6 feet apart and encourage kids to bring their own meals. 

Some schools across the country have also considered doing a combination of in-person and remote learning. Half of the student body might do in-person learning on Mondays and Tuesdays and the other half on Wednesdays and Thursdays. This would cut down on the number of students at the school. 

Again, these are just some of the possibilities for school reopening, no plans are set in stone. Always check with your local school district to make sure you stay up to date with their guidelines. 

Get organized for the back to school season.

Despite all the uncertainty, some things about the school year won’t change. Kids will still need school supplies and clothes that fit. 

First, shop for the essential school supplies, like a backpack, notebooks, and pencils. You may need to do some of this shopping online or you can repurpose the supplies you already have. 

It’s also helpful to set up a command center using a file folder and a whiteboard. Your kids can keep their homework organized and you can write reminders on the board. You could also add a backpack hook to keep everything in one place. 

It’s also a good idea to set up a designated homework area for your kids. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just make sure it’s free of clutter and gives them enough space to work. A homework space will put them in the right mindset so they’ll be ready to hit the books when they get home on the first day. 

Create a master family calendar.

When schools reopen amid COVID-19, there’s a good chance everyone’s normal schedules will change. School pick-up and drop-off times might be staggered and you might only go into the office three days a week. 

It’s hard to juggle all of these new schedules on top of your normal stress. Luckily, creating a master family calendar can help you stay organized. 

You can use a paper calendar, a whiteboard calendar, or even a Google calendar. Try using a different colored marker for each family member to keep you on track. 

Re-establish your family’s sleep routine.

Even for the most organized families, school mornings can be stressful and hectic. Because of extended stay-at-home orders, remote learning, and then summer break, it’s understandable if you’ve gotten lax about bedtimes and morning alarms.

But, without that sleep routine, those first few days back to school can feel even more chaotic. 

To ease the transition, start setting an alarm for the time you’d need to get the kids up for a normal day of school. Have your kids do their morning routine—get dressed, eat breakfast, brush their teeth—just like they would for a normal school day.

Try to stick to this routine for a week or two before school starts. 

Take care of important health-care appointments. 

Just like any other school year, it’s important to take your child for their annual physical—some grades even require it. Even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s very important to follow the CDC’s vaccine schedule. The annual physical is the best time to see if your child is up to date on vaccinations. 

You should also make time to take your child to a pediatric dentist for a professional dental cleaning. If your child has a cavity or incorrect brushing habits, a dentist can catch those issues before they get any worse. 

Our mouths play a large role in our overall health. That’s why you should make sure your kids keep brushing and flossing regularly, even during quarantine. 

How to cope when kids go back to school.

In the last few months, both kids and adults have had to adjust to lots of uncertainty. It’s important to remember this fact if your kids seem stressed after returning to school. 

The best thing you can do is to talk to them and listen. It’s important to reassure them, but be honest about what’s happening. If they’re sad or disappointed, acknowledge that those feelings are valid. 

For parents, remember to take one day at a time and try to stay flexible. If you’re feeling stressed, try cutting down on screen time and getting some more exercise.

It’s also helpful to have something to look forward to—whether it’s family movie night or takeout from your favorite restaurant. If either you or your kids are feeling overwhelmed or depressed, reach out to a mental health professional for help. 

Start preparing for the new school year.

While it’s not clear whether or not learning will be in person when kids go back to school, it’s still a good idea to prepare. That way, even if your child doesn’t go back for in-person learning, you’re all set up for a great school experience at home. 

In the meantime, don’t forget to book an appointment to see a kids dentist. Dr. Shea offers family dentistry care for kids from infancy into their teen years. Contact us today to request a visit and make an appointment. 

Pediatric Dentistry

6 Ways We Make Your Child’s First Dentist Visit Easier for Your Child and You

Comfortable, Quality Dentistry for Children

Scheduling your child’s first dental appointment can seem like a daunting task—even once you’ve found the perfect dentist, it’s easy to get caught up in worrying about the details. You might find yourself stressing out about insurance coverage, whether you’ll be late to the appointment, or how your child will react. Despite this, your child’s first dental appointment is very important; it provides a chance for their pediatric dentist to check each tooth for a cavity, since baby teeth are more vulnerable to decay than adult teeth, and to make sure that your little one’s baby teeth are developing normally. The appointment also allows your dentist to answer any questions you have about your child’s oral health. Here are just a few of the ways the team at our pediatric dental group works to ensure that your child’s first visit to the dentist is as smooth and easy as possible. 

1. We provide forms to prefill

Whether you’ve only been a parent for a few months or you have years of experience, you’re likely already familiar with the feeling of running late for an appointment, kids in tow, and realizing that you still have to fill out paperwork once you arrive at the office—oftentimes while keeping an eye on your little ones or trying to keep them entertained. We’ve streamlined the check-in process by providing our forms online for you to fill out before your child’s pediatric dentist appointment. Just fill them out in a spare moment and bring them with you to the appointment, so there’s less to worry about when you arrive at our office. All you need to do is make sure that you have your insurance card and any updated information about your little one’s overall health or medications.

2. We can schedule your whole family’s appointments at once.

When you have multiple kids, your days can fill up quickly; this can make it difficult to find time to schedule separate appointments for each of your children, especially if you have to take time off work in order to take each child to their appointment. We try to limit this stress by focusing on family dentistry, ensuring you can schedule all of your children for their regular dental health exams at once. You’ll be able to get all of their exams completed in a single afternoon, so it’s more convenient and easier than ever to get your little ones to their regular appointments.

3. We’re happy to discuss financial concerns before or after the appointment.

If you’re worried about affording your child’s dental care, such as a filling for a cavity, we’re always willing to discuss your concerns either before or after your child’s appointment. We can work with you to estimate how much of your child’s treatment your insurance is likely going to cover and help you to figure out the best way for you to afford any portion that isn’t covered.

4. We’re trained to handle anxious children.

Many children are anxious about going to the pediatric dentist, especially during their first appointment. It’s a new experience and they don’t know the staff well yet, so it can understandably be scary, but try not to worry about your little one too much. Kids’ dentists have special training to soothe this anxiety, and the entire staff is used to helping anxious children feel more at ease.

You can ease your child’s anxiety before the appointment by talking about it as a positive experience rather than a negative one; kids pick up on negative emotions, so they’ll be more nervous if they think that you’re worried. Trusting us to soothe their lingering anxiety will help you feel less stressed about the appointment as well. Additionally, let your children’s dentist explain treatments, like cavity fillings, to them instead of trying to explain it at home. We’ve perfected explaining procedures in simple, kid-friendly terms that help your little one feel more comfortable.

5. We offer emergency dental care for kids.

Dental issues aren’t always predictable—especially since kids can play rough or be clumsy. Toothaches or dental injuries like broken or knocked-out teeth often can’t wait for a regularly scheduled appointment and require immediate emergency dental care. When this happens, we’re prepared to provide the best kids’ emergency dental care for your little one, whether the emergency occurs during our regular business hours or not. Call our office as soon as you realize that you have a dental emergency on your hands. If we’re closed, our answering machine will provide directions to help you access our emergency line, ensuring your child can get the care they need right away, even if it’s the middle of the night. 

6. We submit your insurance claim for you as a courtesy.

Whether your child visited our office for a regularly scheduled appointment or for a dental emergency, we submit your insurance claim as a courtesy. This means there’s less paperwork and fewer phone calls with your insurance company for you to worry about—we know you have enough on your plate, so we take care of it! This allows you to focus on your child’s appointment with their pediatric dentist.

Whether you’re taking your child in for routine care or a dental emergency, knowing that you’ve chosen the best dentist in Rochester, NY, for your family can help you and your child take each step in their oral healthcare journey with confidence. The foundation that you and your children’s dentists lay out for your child while they’re young can help them develop strong teeth and build healthy habits early on—which will stick with them for the rest of their lives. When you’re ready to visit the dentist for a consultation, call our office or request an appointment with our handy online booking form. 

Oral Health

8 Ways To Make Brushing Teeth Fun For Kids

Make toothbrushing a habit for your child with the power of play.

According to the CDC, about 20% of children between the ages of five and 11 have untreated tooth decay. Regular dental appointments and opting for fluoride treatments go a long way in stopping tooth decay, but twice-daily toothbrushing is still one of the most important steps in cavity prevention. By taking advantage of the power of playing and having fun, you can turn toothbrushing into an event that your child can feel excited about. 

Here are 8 fun ways to turn your child’s daily toothbrushing habit into something they look forward to morning and night. 

1. Make daily toothbrushing an exciting, fun event as soon as your baby’s teeth start to come in.

Approach toothbrushing as something exciting as early as when your baby’s teeth first start to appear. Use a clean washcloth to gently wipe their gums twice a day, switching to an infant toothbrush once their teeth begin to erupt. You’ll also want to schedule your baby’s first dental appointment by their first birthday.

By getting your baby used to dental care so soon, not only will their baby teeth be healthier but they’ll also view toothbrushing in a positive way.

2. Let your child pick out a fun toothbrush and a new tube of toothpaste every three months.

An easy but effective way to help your child look forward to brushing their teeth is to let them pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste. You’ll want to limit their selection to ADA-approved options, but from there you can let them pick whichever toothbrush and toothpaste appeals to them.

Be sure to replace your child’s toothbrush every three to four months or as soon as you notice the bristles wearing down.

3. Turn tooth care into a family affair by getting everyone together for bedtime brushing.

When kids see their parents and older siblings get excited about brushing their teeth, they can’t help but feel the same way.

Gathering together in the bathroom to brush teeth and floss after dinner is a great way to make sure everyone in your family is getting in their bedtime brushing. This is also really helpful to keep kids accountable when it’s been a long day and the temptation to skip brushing is there.

4. Playing dentist is a great way to teach young kids about brushing their teeth and prepare them for future dental appointments.

Some very young kids might feel afraid of a toothbrush or having a dentist examine their mouths. This is completely normal and can actually make for a great opportunity to play with your child.

Role playing as a dentist and allowing your child to brush your teeth or look in your mouth shows them there’s nothing to fear. You can even purchase toy dental kits online to really make playtime feel more realistic. As your child grows more confident you can take turns being the dentist and the patient.

5. Print out a colorful toothbrush habit tracking chart and award fun stickers for morning and nightly brushing.

It goes without saying that kids love stickers and seeing their progress visually represented with them. Take an idea from teachers and print out a colorful toothbrush tracking chart. This chart could be for the week or the month. You can even repurpose a simple calendar and have your child decorate it to their heart’s content.

Every time your child brushes their teeth they can place a cool sticker on their chart for that day. At the end of the week or the month, you can reward them with a special toy or some other small prize.

6. Set up a stool or a mirror so your child can watch themselves brushing their teeth up close.

Young kids might find it difficult to see themselves in the bathroom mirror when they’re brushing their teeth. If this is the case, set up a stool or use a countertop mirror so your child can get close up to the mirror to watch themselves as they brush. This turns something fairly mundane like brushing their teeth or flossing into something interesting and new.

Being able to see clearly also encourages kids to brush their teeth more thoroughly and makes it easier to not accidentally skip a tooth while flossing.

7. Tell your child a funny story and read jokes in a silly voice while they brush their teeth.

Two minutes of brushing can go by really fast when you share a funny story or tell some jokes to your child. It also gives your child something to look forward to every time they brush their teeth.

Another idea is to let your child pick a goofy character for you to play out while they brush. Put on a silly voice and have fun. Once they’re done brushing, pick out a character for them to play out while you brush your teeth.

8. Change things up by letting your child pick out a song or a video to listen to while brushing their teeth.

The classic two-minute hourglass is a favorite method for helping kids time their brushing. This is effective, but seeing the same hourglass can be a little boring. Spice things up by letting your kid pick out a song to listen to while they brush their teeth.

Another great option is to play a two-minute video of their choice. Look on YouTube to find dental-related toothbrushing songs and videos, including some with characters from well-known shows like “Sesame Street.”

Complete your child’s tooth care routine with a visit to Dr. Shea, DDS.

When your kids need the best dentist in Rochester, NY, Dr. Shea’s office is the place to go. Dr. Shea is a dedicated kids’ dentist who provides preventive, restorative, orthodontic, and emergency care.

Unlike a family dentistry practice, Dr. Shea and the rest of the team are specially trained to work with kids of all ages, from infancy up to the teenage years. By taking your child to a pediatric dental group, you’re ensuring they have a wonderful experience with a team that’s adept at providing compassionate care with youngsters in mind.

When you’re ready to book your child’s next dental visit, you can either give our office a call, send us an email, or use our online appointment request form.

Pediatric Dentistry

Why Straighten My Child’s Teeth? 10 Reasons to Get Braces for Your Child

Braces improve the health and appearance of your child’s smile.

As your child gets older, their pedodontist may recommend that you look into whether they’ll need conventional braces or interceptive orthodontic appliances to straighten their teeth. Braces are an incredibly effective and popular orthodontic treatment, but you may find yourself reluctant to sign off on them even after you’ve received an orthodontic consultation. While you want your child to be happy and healthy, braces involve a huge commitment of both time and money; if you’re on a tight budget, it’s natural and smart to want to make sure that every expense is actually necessary.

Although braces are often talked about in the context of improving the aesthetics of a smile, they also work to improve your child’s oral health and daily life in several vital ways. Here are 10 reasons you should seriously consider investing in braces for your child.  

1. Straight teeth lower your child’s chances of getting periodontitis and cavities.

Unfortunately, crooked and uneven teeth are simply harder to clean than straight, even teeth. There are more nooks and crannies for bacteria and plaque to collect in, which even adults can struggle to clean properly. These areas increase your child’s chances of getting cavities and periodontitis, which can both seriously jeopardize the health of their teeth. Since straight teeth are more uniform and easier to clean, they help your child better protect their oral health and reduce their chances of getting cavities or periodontitis for their entire lives.

2. Crooked teeth can lead to chronic jaw pain.

An uneven bite or crooked teeth can cause your child to have an improper jaw alignment, where the entire jaw doesn’t sit exactly as it should. This can result in temporomandibular disorder  (TMD), a condition that includes symptoms such as chronic jaw pain, frequent or severe headaches, popping or grinding sounds when moving the joint, and lockjaw, which makes it difficult to open or close the mouth. TMD symptoms like this can make simple tasks, such as eating or speaking, difficult and painful. Thankfully, straightening your child’s teeth can prevent them from experiencing this down the road.

3. Straight teeth lower your child’s chances of injuring their teeth.

If your child has crooked teeth, you may notice that several of their teeth protrude a little ahead of the rest. Even slight protrusions like this make teeth more vulnerable to injuries such as chipping, cracking, or getting knocked out. This is because a tooth that sticks forward, even a little, takes the brunt of hard impacts and presents a target for objects to catch on when they hit at an angle. In contrast, straight teeth come together to form a strong wall, distributing the impact of hits to the face across a larger surface area and sitting evenly so that an angled hit is much less likely to catch an individual tooth on the side. This helps prevent your child from suffering a serious dental injury.

4. Straight teeth may make eating easier.

Misaligned bites can make eating more difficult for some children for a few different reasons, making chewing feel stiff, awkward, or even slightly painful. Not all kids experience this problem, as plenty of kids who need braces never mention feeling uncomfortable when they eat, but it can worsen over time as your child ages.

5. Crooked teeth can wear unevenly.

When teeth are crooked or uneven, some teeth take on the brunt of the impact when your child chews or bites into food. Over time, this results in uneven wear on your child’s teeth, further impacting the appearance of their smile, causing tooth sensitivity in their worn teeth, and potentially worsening any existing problems with their uneven bite, such as headaches, jaw pain, or difficulty eating. Straight teeth, however, prevent this from happening by distributing the workload evenly.

6. Straight teeth can ease frequent headaches.

Even if your child lacks symptoms of full-blown TMD pain, an uneven bite might be the culprit if your child has frequent headaches. These headaches can be mild or severe and can vary in frequency, but straightening your child’s teeth can often greatly reduce or even stop these headaches.

7. Crooked teeth may cause your child to grind their teeth.

Children with an uneven bite or crooked teeth may begin grinding their teeth together in their sleep. This unintentional habit can cause your child to wake up with headaches, jaw pain or stiffness, or sensitive teeth and gums. Your child’s teeth are also in danger of chipping, breaking, or cracking from the forces exerted on them, leading to an emergency trip to the dentist that may require your child to get dental bonding or a crown. Even if your child avoids an immediate injury to their teeth, grinding their teeth against each other will wear their teeth down over time. Correcting your child’s bite can also stop this behavior, protecting your child’s teeth from future damage.

8. Straight teeth save you money over time.

There’s no denying it—braces can come with a hefty up-front cost. However, since straightening your child’s teeth can prevent so many dental issues down the road, from cavities and gum disease to worn or injured teeth, braces will likely end up paying for themselves and saving you a lot of money in the long run.

9. Straight teeth help your child build confidence.

Although it might be less practical than the many ways braces work to improve your oral health, the impact that braces have on the appearance of your child’s smile is certainly worth mentioning. Unfortunately, uneven or crooked teeth can make your child self-conscious of their smile, sometimes even to the extent that they go to the effort of avoiding smiling in public. Gaining a straight, even smile helps your child create a positive self-image and build self-confidence, both traits that will help them be happier.

10. Straight teeth impact others’ first impressions of your child.

Whether we intend to or not, we’re always forming first impressions of people based—at least in part—on their appearance. This includes someone’s smile, which is one of the first features people notice and remember about someone new. One survey-based study found that 45% of Americans believe that someone with a straight smile is more likely to get a job than someone with crooked teeth but equal education and job experience. The study also reported that, when participants judged their interest in dating individuals based on pictures alone, people with straight smiles were 57% more likely to get a date. As a result, having a straight smile can help your child make a good impression in professional environments and personal relationships.

While braces can be expensive, they’re often necessary—and they’re a long-term investment in your child’s oral health and self-confidence. We know that the expense of braces for your child is still a big concern for many parents, so you can schedule a consultation with Dr. Shea at our Rochester family dentistry practice to discuss your child’s treatment options and to receive an estimate of the cost as well as how much your insurance is likely to cover.

Pediatric Dentistry

10 Top Books for Kids About Going to the Dentist

Teaching Your Children About Dental Care

When your children are young, it can be hard to get them to fully understand why they need to brush their teeth, let alone get them excited about it, and taking them to their pediatric dentist can seem like a Herculean task. Thankfully, books about going to the dentist can offer a solution by teaching your kids about these topics in a fun way, mixing facts with entertaining stories that may even involve characters your children already love.

These books aim to get your kids excited about oral hygiene, teach them about its importance, and show them that the dentist really isn’t so scary after all. There are so many books addressing dentistry for children that it can be daunting to sift through them and find ones that match your children’s needs, so we’re sharing 10 books you can read to your kids before going to the dentist.

1. Brush, Brush, Brush! by Alicia Padron

If you’re struggling to convince your young children to brush their teeth, this book might help. It’s very short and simple, so it’s best for children between the ages of 1 and 3 years old. The book’s rhymes are meant to be sung, creating a fun tune for your little one that teaches them how to brush their teeth. It doesn’t tell a story or include sensory stimulation for younger kids, though, so a different book might be a better choice if that’s what keeps your small children interested.

2. Sugar Bugs by Erica Weisz and Sam Weisz

Robbie’s unhealthy habits attract a family of sugar bugs to his mouth; although they seem nice at first, Robbie soon learns that they aren’t. He visits the dentist, who shows him the neat tools he uses to get rid of the sugar bugs and shares three rules Robbie can follow to keep them away. The book uses kid-friendly language and explanations, making it a great introduction for your children about why oral hygiene and a healthy diet are so important.

3. Show Me Your Smile! A Visit to the Dentist by Christine Ricci

Dora the Explorer is a popular TV show famous for its ability to engage children by asking them direct questions that allow them to interact with the characters, and this book uses the same strategy to keep your children engaged. It encourages your kids to find images hidden in the background and even includes a matching game. The engaging style and simple language enable the book to entertain kids between the ages of 3 and 7, teaching them all about what happens at dental appointments. Dora brings up a range of important topics such as dental cleanings and X-rays, explains what a cavity is, and describes the dental tools kids’ dentists use to treat them.

4. The Teeth That Looked for a New Mouth by Jill Jones

In this colorful book, Luke doesn’t care for his teeth like he should, so his teeth go looking for a better mouth. This cute story uses a catchy rhyming scheme as it follows the teeth on their journey, during which they talk to different animals who want them. Their journey is interesting and enjoyable, but it also carries a solid message that young children can easily understand about the importance of taking care of their teeth.

5. Jacob Learns to Brush His Teeth by Anthony Heath

Like Luke in The Teeth That Looked for a New Mouth, Jacob doesn’t like brushing his teeth—no matter what his parents or pedodontist say. One night, Jacob finally decides to try brushing his teeth after watching his parents complete their usual oral hygiene routine, and he decides he likes the way it makes his teeth look and feel. This book doesn’t go into a lot of detail, so while your little one will learn it’s important to brush their teeth, they won’t learn how. Still, this book’s beautiful illustrations, cute rhymes, and worthwhile message make it an entertaining supplementary read for your child.

6. Daniel Goes to the Dentist by Alexandra Cassel Schwartz

Daniel Tiger has a dental appointment, so his mom encourages him to brush his teeth before they leave and sings a song to help him remember how to do it well. This is a detail that you can add to your child’s oral hygiene routine, especially if they love Daniel. He’s a little nervous when he arrives, so Daniel’s dentist explains the entire process to him as she cleans, examines, and polishes his teeth. In addition to giving your child a basic idea of what to expect from a dental visit, it’s a cute, colorful story with a relatable character who’s honest about being a little nervous—but who overcomes it and realizes his dentist is really nice!

7. The Tooth Book: A Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums by Edward Miller

Ideal for curious children between the ages of 5 and 8, The Tooth Book includes a ton of information about teeth, how to care for them, and what happens when you don’t. It also prepares your child for their appointment with the pediatric dentist by helping them learn what to expect. The book also teaches them emergency dental care for kids; this helps your children get the best kids’ emergency dental care if something happens. In addition to this practical information, it teaches your kids about the anatomy, history, and lore of teeth. This is one of the rare dentist books for kids that is absolutely packed with information. It’s especially great for kids who love science and learning.

8. The Magic School Bus and the Missing Tooth by Jeanette Lane

When the kids find a lost tooth in their classroom, they go on a mission to find out whose tooth it is. Along the way, they learn about different types of teeth in humans and animals, their jobs, how they develop, and why our baby teeth are eventually replaced by adult teeth. It’s a colorful and entertaining read for first and second graders who are beginning to lose teeth, and it will teach them a lot of genuinely useful and interesting information along the way!

9. Chirpy Charlie’s Teeth by Marta Zafrilla

Charlie is a bird who watches his owner, Julie, brush her teeth every morning to avoid getting a cavity and filling. He decides he needs to look after his teeth, too—but since he’s a bird, he doesn’t know how! After Charlie tries a lot of different creative methods without success, Julie points out that he doesn’t have any teeth—just a beak! The story and art are adorable and entertaining for your children, but it doesn’t provide very many hard facts; its message about the importance of oral hygiene is still clear, however, so it makes a great supplementary read for your little ones.

10. Going to the Dentist by Anne Civardi

This book follows Jake and Jessie when they visit the dentist; although there isn’t much of a plot, it provides a step-by-step explanation of a dental appointment. It also goes into a little detail about removing a cavity, describing the numbing shot and dental drill. This can be very useful if your child needs a filling, but it’s easy to skip over if you’re worried the details will scare your little one. Generally, however, these explanations remove the unknown elements of their visit, which helps relieve dental anxiety.

Whether you’re trying to prepare your children for their first appointment with their pediatric dentist, reduce their dental anxiety, or teach them about oral hygiene, books are a fun and engaging way to make the lesson stick. Accomplishing these goals will make your life easier and will benefit your children for the rest of their lives!

Oral Health Uncategorized

Is Your Kid’s Tooth Pain a Dental Emergency?

What to Do If Your Child Has a Tooth Pain

If your child is currently experiencing a dental emergency in Rochester, NY, contact our office for prompt assistance. If you are calling after-hours, our answering service is available to take your call and relay your message to Dr. Shea, who will contact you as soon as possible.

Pain is a complex experience. While some pain directly results from tissue damage (like a scraped knee), pain can also be triggered indirectly (the way chocolate may trigger a migraine in certain individuals). So what does it mean if your child is experiencing tooth pain?

When teeth are healthy and structurally sound, they’re generally without feeling, thanks to the non-living tooth enamel that coats them. Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, making it the perfect substance to withstand the forces of chewing and protect the sensitive living tissue (known as pulp) that’s at the center of each tooth. If tooth enamel is compromised by injury or decay, pulp can become irritated and inflamed, sending strong signals to the pain centers in your child’s brain that something is not okay.

When to See the Pediatric Dentist

While some conditions can cause referred tooth pain (like a sinus infection), most toothaches are the result of tooth damage, injury, or decay. So does your child’s toothache warrant an emergency trip to the pediatric dentist?

In most cases, the answer is yes, as healthy teeth don’t cause toothaches and tooth pain is a distressing experience for your child. While not all dental emergencies will require an after-hours visit, your child will experience less pain and stress if dental issues are handled with urgency.

Here’s how you can respond to the most common kids’ dental issues and injuries and help your child enjoy a smile that’s beautiful, healthy, and pain-free.

1. Toothache

Toothaches can cause a dull throb or sharp pain, which is unpleasant at best and severe at worst. Most toothaches are caused by tooth decay, gum disease, or infection, though they can also originate from other dental issues, such as teeth grinding or clenching (known as bruxism).

No matter the cause and even if you can’t see signs of damage, tooth pain is a sign that your child needs to see their pediatric dentist ASAP. In the meantime, you can help your child find temporary relief by swishing their mouth with salt water, applying a few drops of clove oil with a cotton swab, or administering over-the-counter pain medications per their instructions.

2. Pain or Swelling

If your child is experiencing facial swelling, red gums, or tooth pain or sensitivity while chewing, they may have an abscessed tooth. Caused by a bacterial infection, an abscessed tooth has a pocket of pus that’s trapped within the gums or at the tip of a tooth’s root. An abscessed tooth can cause pain in the tooth itself, in addition to radiating pain in the ear, neck, or jaw.

As an abscessed tooth can cause excruciating pain and serious health risks, it’s vital to seek prompt emergency care from your child’s pediatric dentist. If your child has intense or throbbing tooth pain that’s accompanied by fever, facial swelling, a rapid heart rate, confusion, or difficulty breathing or swallowing, take your child to the nearest emergency room. These symptoms may mean that the infection has spread into your child’s jaw or surrounding tissues, which requires swift medical treatment to prevent a life-threatening condition known as sepsis.

3. Chips or Breaks

Though they may or may not cause pain, chips and breaks should be evaluated and treated as soon as possible to avoid unpleasant complications, such as pain, further damage, a tooth abscess, or tooth loss.

Contact your pediatric dentist ASAP if your child has a chipped, cracked, or broken tooth. While you wait to be seen, you can help your child temporarily ease pain with a warm, salt-water gargle or by applying a wrapped ice pack to your child’s check for up to 20 minutes once an hour. If you recovered any tooth fragments, you can preserve the pieces in cold milk or an emergency tooth preservation product approved by the ADA.

4. Knocked Out Tooth

Apart from when our baby teeth fall out naturally, our teeth aren’t meant to move—let alone get knocked out or loose. That said, having a tooth knocked in any way out of place is a traumatic dental injury that requires immediate emergency care from your child’s pediatric dentist to try to save the tooth and prevent future complications.

If your child has traumatically lost or loosened a tooth, use sterile gauze pads to control any bleeding and then work to quickly locate the tooth. Avoid touching the tooth roots when you pick up the tooth, then gently rinse it under slow-running water. Next, place the tooth in a small container of cold milk or an ADA-approved emergency tooth preservation product. Alternately, if your child is old enough and able, have your child hold the tooth between their cheek and gums to prevent the tooth from drying out on the way to the pediatric dentist office.

5. Cuts on Inner Cheeks, Lips, or Tongue

As your child engages in the world around them through sports, climbing, and play, they may get minor cuts every now and again inside their mouths. Many of these superficial oral injuries can be safely and effectively treated with first aid at home. For instance, you can rinse the area with cold water for several minutes or give your child an ice cube to suck on to reduce bleeding and swelling if they’re old enough to do so safely. If needed, you can also apply direct pressure to the injury with a clean cloth or bandage to stop the bleeding.

If your child has an injury to the tissue inside of their mouth that won’t stop bleeding or otherwise seems severe, seek immediate treatment at your nearest emergency room. If your child also damaged or knocked out a tooth, priority will be given to stopping the bleeding, and can be followed by an emergency dentist visit to help save or restore a knocked out or damaged tooth.

6. Bleeding Gums

If your child’s gums are red, swollen, or bleed easily, they may have gingivitis. The earliest form of periodontal (gum) disease, gingivitis is often caused by excessive plaque buildup along the gumline. Unless plaque is disrupted by daily oral hygiene habits and routine dental visits, plaque will irritate your child’s gum tissue and cause the gums to bleed easily and become red and swollen.

Gingivitis is not an urgent dental emergency, though your child should see their pediatric dentist right away to prevent more serious dental issues with a deep cleaning. Along with getting your child’s oral health back on track, seeing your child’s pediatric dentist ASAP can spare your child from undesirable and uncomfortable oral health complications, including tooth loss and tissue damage.

From preventative dental visits to emergency care, Dr. Shea is here to support your child’s oral health and comfort at every age. Increase your peace of mind by adding our office number to your contact list in case of a dental emergency and by scheduling your child’s next preventative dental appointment.

Oral Health Pediatric Dentistry

Ways to Prevent Serious Dental Issues Commonly Seen in Children

Protect baby teeth for optimal oral health.

While children are susceptible to the same serious dental issues as adults, there are simple steps parents can take to prevent problems and support better oral health. First and foremost, it is important to understand that baby teeth play a vital role in a child’s development. Just because baby teeth will eventually fall out, doesn’t mean that they don’t need to be cared for properly. Protecting baby teeth will ensure that your children can enjoy optimal oral health that will set them up for a lifetime of smiles. Keep reading to learn more about the most common dental issues in children and how you can prevent them.

1. Tooth Decay

The most common dental issue that affects children is dental decay. As bacteria collects in the mouth, it turns into plaque, which begins to cover the teeth and eat away at the enamel. While small cavities and minor tooth decay may not cause any noticeable symptoms, advanced decay can result in tooth sensitivity, pain, swelling, and visible signs of decay such as black, brown, or white spots. 

Causes of Tooth Decay and Preventative Steps You Can Take

Perhaps the biggest cause of tooth decay is poor oral hygiene habits. Regular brushing and flossing are essential to controlling bacteria and removing plaque. Children should brush at least twice a day and see the dentist twice a year for a professional evaluation and cleaning. A dentist will be able to detect any early signs of decay and help take preventative measures to avoid more serious problems. It is also important for you to encourage proper dental hygiene and monitor your child’s habits to make sure they are thoroughly cleaning their teeth.

Poor nutrition can also contribute to tooth decay. Diets that are high in sugar and carbohydrates feed bacteria and create more acid in the mouth. This will break down the enamel over time and cause serious problems.

Treating Tooth Decay

For children who are in the more advanced stages of tooth decay a filling, crown and even an implant may be necessary. If the cavity is superficial and hasn’t attacked the center of the tooth or caused an infection in the root, a filling will be able to address the problem. However, more severe decay will require a kid’s dental crown. 

While baby teeth will naturally fall out on their own, this transition to adult teeth follows an important developmental pattern. If decayed baby teeth fall out too early, it can affect how permanent teeth come in and lead to further problems. In addition, you don’t want your child to suffer from the pain and discomfort of decaying and infected teeth. That is why children’s dental crowns are a common and effective treatment for advanced decay.

2. Gum Disease

Gum disease, which is also known as periodontal disease, is an infection that attacks the gums and structures that support teeth, including the jaw bone. You have probably heard of and been warned about gingivitis. This is considered the first sign of gum disease. If gingivitis is allowed to progress, the gums will pull away from the teeth, which forms pockets where bacteria will accumulate, grow, and cause infections. Children with full-fledged gum disease will experience damaged tissue and tooth loss. 

Causes of Gum Disease

While genetics, illnesses, and certain medications can cause or contribute to gum disease, most cases can be attributed to poor oral hygiene habits. This is especially true when it comes to young patients.

Preventing Gum Disease in Children

It all comes down to regular brushing and flossing and bi-annual visits to the dentist. Children may still be developing the motor skills they need to brush thoroughly. They also may be resistant to making oral hygiene a part of their daily routine. That is why it is important for parents to help with brushing when necessary and try to make it a fun activity that kids don’t dread. This can help establish healthy patterns that carry on into adulthood. 

3. Crooked Teeth

Having crooked teeth is more than just an aesthetic concern. Misaligned teeth can cause jaw pain, an irregular bite, speech difficulties, periodontal disease, and overcrowding in the mouth. While crooked teeth can be corrected using traditional orthodontic methods and more modern clear aligners, these treatments can be expensive. It is better to take steps early in childhood in order to support proper development and prevent crooked teeth than have to fix them later in life. 

Causes of Crooked Teeth

Kids may be genetically prone to crooked teeth, but poor nutrition and dental care can also add to the problem. If children aren’t seeing a family dentist for regular evaluations, then some of the issues that can lead to crooked teeth will go untreated. In addition, a dentist can monitor tooth movement to make sure other major problems don’t arise.

Preventing Crooked Teeth in Children

The best way to prevent children from growing crooked adult teeth is to make sure that their baby teeth are healthy and don’t fall out prematurely. From there, you will also want to work with your family dentist to make sure that adult teeth are coming in properly. Taking corrective measures at the first sign of a problem can help your kids avoid having to undergo more extensive orthodontic treatments. 

Ultimately, the same rules apply to both children and adults. Good oral hygiene is at the heart of preventing serious dental issues, including tooth decay, gum disease, and crooked teeth. Whether you want to get your child off on the right track or you need help addressing oral health problems that have already emerged, Dr. Judith Shea and her team can help. They are experts in pediatric dentistry and understand the challenges both parents and children face. Patients enjoy the best in compassionate care and the latest tools and techniques. Contact us today to make an appointment.

Oral Health

10 Ways to Keep Your Family’s Teeth Healthy When You Don’t Have Access to Dental Care

Stay-at-home oral care.

With many dental offices around the country closed to accommodate social distancing, patients are looking for ways to keep their teeth healthy at home.

Thankfully, you can achieve optimal dental care using the tools and resources right at your fingertips! Today, we’re sharing 10 tips to help you keep your smile bright until we can meet in person again.

1. Amplify your dental hygiene.

Are you an intermittent flosser? Do you only brush at night?

If you’ve been slacking a little with your dental hygiene routine, now’s the time to kick it into high gear. Remember to brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time, and floss at least once a day. Then, remind your family to do the same. 

These simple steps can go a long way toward preventing tooth decay and keeping cavities at bay!

2. Prioritize your immune system.

Did you know that oral health and your immune system go hand-in-hand? It makes sense when you break down the biology. Everything that enters your body has to pass through your mouth first.

If your teeth and gums are filled with germs and bacteria, those organisms are also allowed to enter into your system. This can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to infections. Conversely, when you prioritize your oral health, you give your immune system an immediate boost and improve your whole-body health.

3. Snack smart.

We get it! Quarantine snacks are a necessity during this trying time. That said, try to reach for whole foods, including fruits and veggies, and whole grains when possible.

In addition to fiber-rich produce, which stimulates your saliva flow and wards off cavities, you can also indulge in cheese and dairy products. These are filled with tooth-loving minerals, including calcium. As an added benefit, the calcium also sticks to your teeth and helps prevent acid erosion!

Wondering what not to eat?

Try to avoid starchy, refined carbohydrates, such as chips, bread, or pasta. After lingering in your mouth, those starches break down into simple sugars. When internal bacteria feed on these sugars, they can produce acid that causes tooth decay.

At the same time, try to avoid hard, sugary candy, along with sodas and fruit juices. The saliva in your mouth cannot wash away the sugar from these items, so it sticks to your teeth for longer than it should. If you do indulge, be sure to brush your teeth afterward!

4. Drink water.

To help rinse your mouth and keep it free of harmful bacteria, remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Other habits that can help keep your mouth as clean as possible include flossing daily and using a fluoride-based toothpaste twice a day for two minutes. 

5. Don’t skip mouthwash.

There are many reasons to make mouthwash, or mouthrinse, one of the stars of your oral hygiene routine. Not only is it effective at getting your teeth whiter and cleaner, but it also takes your brushing regimen to the next level.

When you rinse with mouthwash after brushing, it removes any lingering tartar and plaque. It can also help prevent gingivitis, which is early-stage gum disease.

Some of the benefits of using mouthwash include preventing cavities, strengthening your teeth, killing the germs that cause bad breath, and freshening your breath. This list of ADA-approved products is a great place to start! 

6. Learn how to defend against cavities.

The tips above can keep your teeth healthy and clean. Yet, until they become second nature, someone in your family might still develop a cavity. If this happens, it can be disheartening to consider what will happen when you can’t visit your dentist.

On one hand, you don’t want it to get any worse. However, you can’t exactly go in for a routine checkup right now. To help mitigate the spread and severity of the cavity, stay away from sugar, and remember to brush your teeth at least twice a day. This way, you can slow the growth of decay until you can visit your dentist again.

7. Clean your toothbrush.

When’s the last time you replaced or even cleaned your toothbrush? The ADA recommends replacing yours every three to four months or even sooner if the bristles are frayed.

To clean your toothbrush, simply rinse it with tap water and store it upright. Keep it separate from any other toothbrushes in your bathroom and only cover it if you’re traveling. Closed containers can create a moist environment that harbors unwanted bacteria.

8. Learn proper brushing techniques.

Especially if your children are very young, there’s a chance they aren’t brushing correctly. They could be brushing too vigorously or using the wrong toothbrush.

Use your time at home wisely to teach your children the importance of oral health. The ADA created this quick video to demonstrate brushing basics and help answer any questions. They also published this illustrative guide on how to floss!

9. Remember your tongue.

Plaque can easily build up on your tongue. When this happens, it can introduce a host of issues ranging from bad breath to more serious oral health issues. The best way to remove it is to gently brush your tongue while you’re brushing your teeth.

Remember that young children might need help with this step. Watch them while they brush and floss, and offer guidance as necessary.

10. Set a good example.

Children are natural emulators. If they catch you doing something, it won’t be long before they’re trying to create their own, pint-sized version.

Use this trait to your advantage by practicing great oral hygiene in front of your family. Let your kids watch you brush your teeth in the morning and at night, and show them how you floss. They’ll be that much more willing to adopt the skill themselves this way.

Practice optimal dental care at home.

Optimal dental care begins with a personal choice. If you’re committed to keeping your teeth and gums as healthy as possible, then the steps on this list will come naturally. 

While you’re together at home, make it a point to discuss the importance of oral hygiene with your family. Then you can learn, practice, and grow together as you discover how fun dental health can be!

In the meantime, please call us for any dental-related questions or emergencies, and remember we can still schedule routine appointments in advance. We’re here for you and miss your beautiful smiles!