Pediatric Dentistry is a dental specialty that focuses on the oral healthy of young people.  Following dental school, a pediatric dentist has two to three years additional specialty training in the unique needs of infants, children, and adolescents, including those with special health needs.

A pediatric dentist is uniquely qualified to treat a child who is having his or her first dental visit, treating early childhood caries and/or overcoming a negative experience in a previous dental or physician’s office.  Pleasant visits to the dental office promote the establishment of trust and confidence in your child that will last a lifetime.

A pediatric dentist that is board certified has gone through a rigorous written and clinically examination process with the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry (ABPD).  Only dentist that have completed a residency in pediatric dentistry can sit for the board certification examinations.  Board certification tests the knowledge and problem solving abilities of a pediatric dentist.  Certification by the ABPD provides assurance to the public that a pediatric dentist has successfully completed accredited training and voluntary two part examination process designed to continually validate the knowledge, skills, and experience requisite to the delivery of quality patient care.  This extra certification of becoming a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry is a rare distinction among pediatric dentists and is designed to provide assurance to the patients that their pediatric dentist has successfully completed the highest level of accredited training in their field.  Only half of all certified pediatric dentists achieve this status nationwide.  
“First visit by first birthday” is the general rule.  The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that an initial oral evaluation visit should occur within six months of the eruption of the first primary tooth and no later than twelve months of age.  
You may stay with your child during the initial visit and until the age of three if you desire.  Otherwise, we respectfully request that you allow your child to accompany our staff through the dental experience and to wait in the reception area.  We are highly experienced in helping children overcome anxiety and are fully aware of the anxieties associated with dentistry.  Separation anxiety is not uncommon in children, so please try not to be concerned if your child exhibits some negative behavior.  This is normal and will soon diminish.  Studies and experience have shown that most children over the age of three react more positively when permitted to experience the dental visit on their own and in an environment designed for children.Once your child’s check-up has been completed, you’ll be invited into the clinical area for a consultation with Dr. Holcombe and the hygienist and can address any other concerns you may have. 

X-rays are a necessary part of the diagnosis process, and not using them could lead to undiagnosed disease.  Without an x-ray of the whole tooth, and supporting bone and gum tissues, there is no real way to detect infection or pathology that requires attention.

Often x-rays can show weakness in the tooth structure that may not be visible with the naked eye.  Children need x-rays more often than adults to stay current with the developments in their teeth, since children grow and develop at a much more rapid rate.  Once baby teeth in the back are touching, then regular (at least yearly) x-rays are required.  If your child is at a high risk of dental cavities, we may suggest having x-rays at more frequent intervals.  In our office we use digital radiography which allows us to take x-rays using 50-70% less radiation versus conventional x-rays.  Coupled with computer monitoring, digital x-ray technology allows us to enhance the images for better diagnosis of any dental concerns.

Four things are necessary for cavities to develop-a tooth, bacteria, sugars or other carbohydrates, and time.  Dental plaque is a thin, sticky, colorless deposit of bacteria that constantly forms on everyone’s teeth.  When you eat, the sugars in your food cause the bacteria in plaque to produce acids that attack the tooth enamel.  With time and repeated acid attacks (snacking) the enamel breaks down and a cavity forms. 
Every time your child puts food (starch or sugar) or drink (other than water) in their mouth, the pH levels drops for the next 20 minutes.  Cavities occur because of decalcification from the acidic environment.  Thus, as the child grows older, avoid snacking between meals, especially foods rich in starch and sugar.  Sticky, slowly dissolving candies should be avoided and limited to only special occasions.  Drinking water in between meals is an effective way to rinse out the acid that develops in our mouths.  Avoid sodas, and try to have your child drink milk and non-sweetened juice at meal times.  
“Baby” teeth or primary teeth are important for many reasons.  Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt.  Some of them are necessary until a child is 12 years old or longer.  Pain, infection of the gums and jaws, impairment of general health, and premature loss of teeth are just a few of the problems that can occur when baby teeth are neglected.  Because tooth decay is really bacteria and will spread, decay on baby teeth can cause damage on the permanent tooth.  Proper care of baby teeth is instrumental in enhancing the health of the child.  
The majority of cases of pediatric bruxism (grinding) do not require any treatment.  If excessive wear of the teeth (attrition) is present, then a mouth guard (night guard) may be indicated.  The negatives to a mouth guard are the possibility of choking if the appliance becomes dislodged during sleep and it may interfere with the growth of the jaw.  The positive is obvious by preventing wear to the primary dentition.  Most children outgrow bruxism.  The grinding gets less between the ages of 6-9 and children tend to stop grinding between ages 9-12.  If you suspect bruxism, discuss this with Dr. Holcombe.
Do not use fluoridated toothpaste until your child can spit.  For children under age two, clean their teeth with non-fluoride toothpaste (training toothpaste) and a soft bristled toothbrush.  Once they learn how to spit parents should supervise their brushing and use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. 

The majority of children suck a thumb or finger from a very young age; most even start inside the womb.  Sucking is a natural reflex for an infant, and it serves an important purpose.  Sucking often provides a sense of security and contentment for a young one.  It can also be relaxing, which is why many children suck their thumbs as they fall asleep.  According to the American Dental Association, most children stop thumb sucking on their own between the ages of two and four.  They simply grow out of a habit that is no longer useful to them.  However, some children continue sucking beyond the preschool years (although studies show that the older a child gets, the lower his chances of continuing to suck his thumb.) If your child is still sucking when his permanent teeth start to erupt, it may be time to take action to break the habit.

Should you need to help your child end his habit, follow these guidelines:

-Always be supportive and positive.  Instead of punishing your child for thumb sucking, give praise when they don’t do suck.

-Put a band-aid on their thumb or sock over their hand at night.  Let them know that this is not a punishment, just a way to help them remember to avoid sucking.

-Start a progress chart and let them put a sticker up everyday that they don’t suck their thumb.  If they makes it through a week without sucking, they gets to choose a prize (trip to zoo, new set of blocks, etc.)  When they has filled up a whole month reward them with something great (a video game or a toy they have wanted); by then the habit should be over.  Making your child an active participant in their treatment will increase their willingness to break the habit.

-If you notice your child sucking when they are anxious, work on alleviating their anxiety rather than focusing on the thumb sucking.

-Take note of the times your child tends to suck (long car rides, while watching movies) and create diversions during these occasions.

-Explain clearly what might happen to their teeth if they keep sucking their thumb.Whatever your method, always remember that your child needs your support and understanding during the process of breaking the habit.