Q&A With the Best Pediatric Dentist in Denton County

Denton Pediatric Dentist

Who is the best pediatric dentist in Denton County? Dr. Duffy doesn’t like to toot her own horn, so her staff is going to do it for her this month!

Dr. Duffy has been voted the top pediatric dentist in Denton County two years in a row in the Best of Denton County, an annual contest where residents vote for the best businesses, services, and attractions in the area.

This month, Denton’s top pediatric dentist (Dr. Duffy) answers the most common questions that parents have about kids’ dental health.

How is a pediatric dentist different from a general or family dentist?

Children are special, with behaviors, anatomy, and physiology that are different than adults’. Pediatric dentists have several years of specialized training to treat only children that general dentists do not. Beyond advanced training for our dentists, our entire practice, from the administrators and dental assistants to the smaller instruments used in our office, is oriented toward helping children feel comfortable. Our number-one priority is the children, and helping them develop a healthy smile for life.

Why are primary teeth important?

Primary (baby) teeth aren’t disposable; it’s important to take care of them and prevent cavities even if they are going to fall out. Good primary teeth are vital for the proper eruption of permanent teeth and jaw development, as they serve as placeholders for the permanent teeth and provide structure to help shape a child’s face as it grows. They are also just as important as permanent teeth for chewing, appearance, and speaking (or the development of speech). For this reason it is vital that we help your child develop and maintain habits that will promote good oral health at a very young age.

When should a child have their first dentist appointment, and what happens at the first dental visit?

We recommend that a child see us by their first birthday. It’s an important visit because the dentist can evaluate oral and facial development. It’s also an important educational visit for parents, as we’ll make sure you have the tools you need to help your children stay cavity-free.

How should we care for our child’s teeth? Is fluoride safe?

Until your child gets their first tooth, you can use a wet washcloth or gauze to clean your baby’s teeth and gums. After teeth appear, you should use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush to clean the first teeth. Begin flossing as soon as your child has two teeth touching.

Fluoride is proven to be effective at cavity prevention. The AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) recommends that you use a thin smear of fluoride-containing toothpaste for a child under the age of two. After the age of two, use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Parents should keep the toothpaste out of their child’s reach. A young child should not be allowed to place the toothpaste on their own brush.

What is baby bottle syndrome?

“Baby bottle syndrome” is a form of tooth decay caused by the frequent and long exposure of an infant’s teeth to sugar-rich liquids, including milk, juice, or formula — even breast milk! Baby bottle syndrome can be prevented with regular oral hygiene and by not putting baby to bed with a bottle or nursing before bedtime/throughout the night. The sugar fuels enamel-attacking bacteria that cause tooth decay.

Is thumb-sucking bad for teeth?

It’s completely normal for your baby or young child to suck on a thumb, finger, or pacifier. Children usually give these habits up on their own by age four or five. Dr. Duffy will evaluate your child’s bite and then give you guidance to help cease the habit.  Obviously, pacifier habits are easier for children to quit than a thumb or finger-sucking habit.

Children that continue these patterns as their adult teeth come in are more likely to have bite problems, creating a need for braces down the road.

Are X-rays safe for kids?

Dental X-rays are one of the more comprehensive resources available, as they allow dentists to find, diagnose, and treat health conditions that cannot be seen by the naked eye. X-rays are even more important for children than for adults, as children have a higher risk of tooth decay and their mouths are rapidly changing. Other conditions can also be seen and treated early.

Our practice takes extra care to minimize children’s exposure to radiation. Modern techniques and technology have made radiation from dental X-rays a negligible risk, one that is far smaller than spending a day in the sun.

Is sedation safe for children, and when is it used?

Sedation is used in several situations. Young children, or those who simply can’t keep still, can be sedated so their pediatric dentist can perform lengthy or precise procedures safely. This can be a very light or deeper sedation, depending on the needs of your child.

Safety is our top consideration. Our dental practice offers comprehensive services for kids with special needs, with high levels of anxiety, or who need complicated procedures. We have several tools to work with, including oral conscious sedation, IV sedation, nitrous oxide, and even general anesthesia (in a hospital setting).

Do we need to worry about sugar?

Tooth decay is caused by three things being present in the mouth at the same time: teeth, sugar, and bacteria. Teeth and bacteria are always present in the mouth, so we need to focus on the intake of sugar. It’s unrealistic to never eat sugar, particularly for children, so the focus should be on limiting the intake to just meals or regular snack times rather than small amounts throughout the day.

Frequency and duration of exposure to sugar are the main concerns, so minimizing the window that sugar has to interact with bacteria in the mouth is key. Brushing and flossing more frequently can be better than doing it longer or harder.Healthy hygiene habits keep the mouth clean and free of sugary particles that bacteria feed on.

~Teressa – Practice Manager

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