The dental health of children
Key to a lifetime of excellent dental health
Prevention as well as the early detection of potential problems. Dr. Surillo and Dr. Whitcomb, as well as the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, recommend that your child’s first visit to the pedodontist be around the time of their 1st birthday (or earlier if you have concerns). This allows your child to have the best chances at early detection of dental cavities as well as the recognition of any potential oral and/or facial developmental conditions.
At your child’s first appointment, he/she is introduced to the dental profession in a progressive manner. A thorough dental examination will be done which encompasses an evaluation of their developing primary teeth as well as all of the supporting structures of their face and oral cavity. This is done in a minimally invasive fashion so that your child feels comfortable and safe, and is typically done while your child is in your lap.
Our El Cajon pediatric dentists and staff are highly trained and experienced in handling children at this young age and are able to establish the first connection with them in such a way as to build a relationship of trust. Teeth cleaning, fluoride treatments, and x-rays are not typically necessary at this first appointment. These very valuable procedures will be introduced later in development, typically when your child is 2-3 years of age.
Subsequent Dental Check-ups
Most subsequent appointments for dental check-ups are done every six months after the initial dental exam. These recall appointments are arranged per the needs of your child’s dental development but are usually 6 months apart. This allows our specialist to re-examine your child’s teeth, jaws, and face, monitor progress, and detect any potential area of tooth decay. At around age 3, most children are agreeable to more invasive procedures such as dental cleanings, in-office fluoride treatments, and diagnostic x-rays. Our staff is highly skilled and empathetic and is usually successful in guiding and/or encouraging a child who is more apprehensive and fearful of such a step.
Most children who have met us at a younger age, transition very easily into this next step of cooperation without fear. It is also at around the age of 3 that we ask that you allow them to accompany our staff through the dental experience. Our office is totally designed around children, and this helps the undecided little ones grow into another emotional step. Separation anxiety is not uncommon at this age in development, but most children are able to cope in a positive manner that is highly rewarded by our staff at the end of their appointment (and hopefully by the parent too).
If dental caries is diagnosed on your child’s teeth, a separate restorative appointment would be scheduled with a specific professional recommendation by their dentist as to which treatment modality should be used for your child. Most children under the age of 8 will need some type of sedation or analgesia in order to allow them to better cope and/or reduce the anxiety or discomfort associated with dental treatments. The specific recommendations will depend on age, health, demeanor, coping skills, and the extent of dental treatment needed.
Nitrous Oxide Analgesia
Commonly known as laughing gas Nitrous oxide/oxygen is a safe and effective sedative for children. It will relax the patient for the dental appointment. The mix of both components will be applied through a fruit-scented mask that it is placed over the child’s nose. The patient will remain awake, conscious, and just relax. Approved by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry it is a non-addictive, comfortable, and safe procedure for children performed by most pediatric dentistry in La Mesa, El Cajon, and San Diego. When the procedure is done, it is quickly eliminated from the body via normal breathing.
When a child is overanxious or has special needs, your doctor might recommend a conscious sedation treatment. This is another safe procedure used to calm the patient and reduce any anxiety or discomfort. The patient may fall asleep or be a little drowsy, but they will not be completely unconscious. Their airway protective reflexes remain intact.
There are a variety of different medications, which can be used for conscious sedation; the doctor will prescribe the medication best suited for your child’s overall health and dental treatment recommendations. We will be happy to answer any questions you might have concerning the specific drugs we plan to give to your child.
In-Office General Anesthesia
If your child is unable to tolerate conscious sedation or had extensive dental treatment needs, Drs. Surillo and Whitcomb may recommend In-Office General Anesthesia via I.V. sedation. A Pediatric Anesthesiologist is present to administer general anesthesia and monitor your child in our office.
These highly trained physicians provide anesthesia to infants and children of all ages at Children’s Hospital in San Diego and at the offices of many San Diego pedodontists (pediatric dentists.) All have subspecialty (fellowship) training in pediatric anesthesia and are board-certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology.
Outpatient General Anesthesia
Outpatient General Anesthesia is recommended for apprehensive children, very young children, and children with special needs that would not work well under conscious sedation or I.V. Sedation. General Anesthesia renders your child completely asleep. This would be the same as if he/she was having their tonsils removed, ear tubes or hernia repaired. This is performed in a hospital or outpatient setting only. While the assumed risks are greater than that of other treatment options, if this is suggested for your child, the benefits of treatment this way have been deemed to outweigh the risks. Most pediatric medical literature places the risk of a serious reaction in the range of 1 in 25,000 to 1 in 200,000, far better than the assumed risk of even driving a car daily. The inherent risks if this is not chosen are multiple appointments, the potential for physical restraint to complete treatment, and possible emotional and/or physical injury to your child in order to complete their dental treatment. The risks of NO treatment include tooth pain, infection, swelling, the spread of new decay, damage to their developing adult teeth and possible life threatening hospitalization from a dental infection. Drs. Surillo and Whitcomb have current hospital-medical staff privileges at Children’s Hospital, San Diego, which includes O.R., reserved privileges. Their highly qualified staff of pediatric anesthesiologist performs the general anesthesia.
- When should I schedule my child's first visit to the dentist?
You should schedule your child to be seen at our children’s dentistry in La Mesa when you notice teeth starting to come in. The sooner we can exam your child’s teeth, the easier it will be to help these teeth maintain healthy until their permanent ones come in.
- How is a pediatric dentist different from other dentists?
A pediatric dentist in La Mesa has a specific job that is geared toward children only. A dentist focuses on all teeth where a pediatric dentist has to get specialization to understand and be able to work on children’s teeth. There is a lot of further education that is needed in order to become a pediatric dentist.
- What happens during my child's first visit to the dentist?
During your first visit to our dentistry for children in La Mesa, your child will be shown our office, meet our staff and pediatric dentist, as well as getting x-rays done, and receiving an examination. It can be a nervewracking experience at first for your child, but we can assure you that our team is here ready to comfort your child and help them feel safe.
- Do you need a pediatric dentist?
If you have children, then you will need a pediatric dentist! Pediatric dentistry in La Mesa is here to help your child’s oral health as they grow. The sooner our pediatric dentist can see your child, the better position your child will be in to have a healthy smile throughout there life.
- How long does a child see a pediatric dentist?
A child will need to see a pediatric dentist in La Mesa from the time their first teeth show up to the time they are about to be adults. Once they hit the adult stage, they will need to be seen by a regular dentist whose focus is on adult teeth. Children’s teeth are different than permanent adult teeth, so it is important to be seen by the right professional.
- How do I choose a pediatric dentist?
Choosing a pediatric dentist in La Mesa can be difficult for some. There is a lot that goes into the process of choosing the right pediatric dentist for your child. Be sure to call around and ask important questions like how do they handle stressful situations, are they certified, and are they allowed to practice dentistry in their state? The more questions you ask, the better understand you will get from a dentist.
- How long does pediatric dental surgery take?