Are fluoride treatments for my kids worth paying for?

I am really good about brushing my kids’ teeth twice a day and I take them to the dentist every six months. Every time we see the pediatric dentist, they put on a fluoride treatment. My insurance has changed and now I have to pay for one of the two treatments a year, which is not cheap when you have four kids. My husband doesn’t think it’s even necessary. We use fluoride toothpaste when we brush and they do get one treatment covered by insurance a year. Should we just refuse the second fluoride treatment a year or should I just pay for it? Thanks, April, West Virginia Dear April, There is a reason why your pediatric dentist recommends a fluoride treatment every time your children have a check-up. Fluoride is an effective way to help protect your children’s teeth against tooth decay and cavities. Enamel is a great defender for each tooth. It’s the hard outer surface that protects the inner layers. Enamel can’t be regenerated when it is damaged. Fortunately, fluoride can help strengthen enamel. Fluoride becomes calcium fluoapatite when it is applied to enamel. With the enamel strengthened, the teeth are able to withstand tooth decay. New teeth, especially those that are just erupting in your child’s mouth, are protected. Brushing with a fluoride toothpaste is a effective practice as it provides a low concentration of fluoride for the teeth. The fluoride in the application the dentist can provide has a much higher concentration and will continue to seep into the surfaces of the tooth for about a month. This can not only help prevent cavities...

My kid is freaking out… will a pediatric dentist help?

We typically see family dentist, but I’m wondering about a pediatric dentist for my daughter. She’s always had some anxiety about trips to the dentist, but for the most part has done ok with regular check-ups and cleanings. At her last appointment, they found a cavity, and when they told her, she literally freaked out – complete with screaming, bawling and jumping out of the chair. It was pretty embarrassing, but after she settled down, the dentist tried to do the filling right then. Needless to say, it did not go well at all and we couldn’t even get her numbed up. They mentioned sedation, but I don’t know much about it for kids. She’s refusing to go back, so I really don’t know what do from here. Would a pediatric dentist be better? She’s eight, but we always talk about what a big girl she is, so I’m afraid he will say she’s not a baby.  — Marissa   Marissa, Pediatric dentists are great for kiddos your daughter’s age. They know all the tricks to keep kids relaxed and engaged – and even distracted from what is actually happening while they are in the chair. It’s just what they do – day in and day out. They will get her talking about all sorts of things she loves, and she’ll probably forget why she’s there. That’s not saying that family dentists aren’t great, too, but often their main patient base is adults and they forget that kids sometimes need extra attention and patience. Pediatric offices sometimes have toys and video games in the waiting room and will even...

What can I do about my 5-year-old’s rotting teeth?

My 5-year-old daughter has some serious dental issues. She has two molars that have cavities and she’s lost about a third of the tooth structure on both of her second molars because of decay. I’m not sure what to do for her as I think she is too young to pull the second molars. But she’s complaining that one of them hurts quite a bit when she chews or bites down. The problems are only getting worse because she is impossible at the dentist – she won’t even let them look in her mouth without throwing a fit. It’s maddening! If I find a good pediatric dentist, can they use sedation to help settle her down so they can fix her teeth somehow? I’m afraid there will be lots of work to get done and I want to make it as quick, easy and painless as possible. Help! — Marjorie   Marjorie, Even though we are only talking about baby teeth right now, they are important because she uses them to eat and they also hold space for when her permanent teeth are ready to come in. When children lose those important baby teeth, space maintainers are necessary to keep her permanent molars from drifting and crowding other teeth. If you think her teeth are a mess now, it will be even worse if this happens. As far as getting the work done, go with sedation if possible. But once you get the teeth fixed, there’s some deeper issues to tackle here. Children this age really shouldn’t have that much decay. It’s likely caused because of her eating habits...

Sweet 16 not so “sweet” if my daughter has to change dentists

My daughter is 16, and people are telling me to move her from a pediatric dentist to a regular one. I’m not sure when the best time is to do the switch, but my friends and colleagues keep saying I should do it now. They say she’s too old for a pediatric dentist and could easily have a regular one at this point. I knew the day would come, but during the past 16 years we’ve built up a great relationship with her doctor. I’m sure that it wouldn’t be the first time he’s lost a patient because of age, but why can my daughter stay a year or two longer? I feel like the timing is not right for our family. I also wonder if our pediatric dentist could recommend a regular dentist? I think that would be an easier way to start communicating about moving. On the other hand, I’m not sure I really care what other people think and wonder if we can just stay for a little while longer. — Beth   Beth, There aren’t any steadfast rules about when a child has to leave the pediatric dentist. Many general offices see kids from birth up as well, so there’s never a question about when to change- they can see the same doctor for life. Other times, the kids start to mature beyond the bright colors and silliness of a child-friendly space, and it’s obvious they’re ready to move on. You don’t need to change to a new office anytime soon. If your daughter is happy and content there, most places will continue seeing kids...

Should I be concerned about white spots on my daughter’s baby teeth?

My almost 11-month old is the light of my life. I love how she is changing everyday and is a healthy and active. I have breast fed this whole time and recently started introducing other foods. So far, the only teeth she has gotten up top is her front ones, but I noticed white spots on them today. They are not cavities, but the spots look weird. I’m not sure what to do and I’m not really sure how early I can take her for her first dental appointment or if this is a big deal. If the white spots are normal, what causes them? — Jaci   Jaci, It’s recommended that children see a dentist around the age of one – or when their teeth start coming in. It’s a short visit to simply to check and make sure that their development is normal. There’s no x-rays or cleaning. The white spots should be looked at by a dentist as soon as possible as they could be decalcification spots, or early decay. These white spots appear when minerals are stripped from the tooth, making it weak. There may not be a cavity now, but the tooth will be susceptible in the future. Fluoride treatments or other measures can help. Decalcification on newly-erupted baby teeth should not be considered normal. It’s too early to see decay caused by environmental factors or hygiene neglect, so this could be an indication that there is an underlying problem that a pediatric dentist or doctor should evaluate. This blog has been brought to you by Dr. Aaron and Dr. Katie Carroll. Sedalia Dental...

Sealants didn’t “stick” and pediatric dentist won’t cover costs to re-do them

My daughter is eight and sees the pediatric dentist every six months like clockwork. I haven’t been overly thrilled with them because they seem to be price gouging me. First, they insisted that she get sealants. Then, they insisted that she also get nitrous oxide for the procedure. My insurance policy doesn’t cover either procedure, so I had to pay totally out of pocket. I understand the value in sealants, but I thought the laughing gas was overkill. They were insistent that she needed it and wouldn’t let us get the sealants otherwise. So, I sucked it up and paid for everything and it cost several hundred dollars. My daughter just went back yesterday for her regular checkup again- the first time she’s been since they did the sealants- and two of them are missing. They expect me to pay for them all over again. I think they should cover it for me. I’m wondering if they weren’t placed right in the place because this doesn’t sound right at all. Shouldn’t they last longer?  — Ashley   Ashley, Sealants are a great way to prevent decay and your daughter is at a stage where she may not be able to get down in the crevices well enough on her back teeth to prevent decay. Because they’re grown-up teeth, it’s a good idea to get them squared away again sooner rather than later. With that said, sealants, when properly applied by a general or pediatric dentist, can last as long as ten years. That doesn’t mean they will; only that it’s possible. Ideally, you should be able to get at...