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Frequently Asked Questions

Your child’s dental health is important and we understand that it can be overwhelming. That’s what we’re here for. If you have any questions that our website doesn’t answer, give us a call.

Basic Oral Hygiene

What type of toothbrush should I use?

The brand of the toothbrush is not as critical as the type of bristle and the size of the head. A soft toothbrush with a small head is recommended because medium and hard brushes tend to cause irritation and contribute to recession of the gums, and a small head allows you to get around each tooth more completely and is less likely to injure your gums. It’s unnecessary to “scrub” the teeth as long as you are brushing at least twice a day and visiting your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings.

Is one toothpaste better than others?

Generally, no. However, it’s advisable to use a fluoride-containing toothpaste to decrease the incidence of dental decay. We recommend our patients use whatever tastes good to them as long as it contains fluoride.

How often should I floss?

Flossing of the teeth once per day helps to prevent cavities from forming between the teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing also helps to keep your gums healthy.

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Our Practice

What is a pediatric dentist?

A pediatric dentist studies an additional two years beyond the study of general dentistry. These additional years focus on training in behavior management, growth and development, hospital dentistry, and the psychology of children. In this same period of time, the pediatric dentist develops techniques that help children develop a more positive view of dentistry and avoid dental issues throughout life.

May I stay with my child during the visit?

You are invited to stay with your child during his/her initial examination. Once you and your child have had a chance to meet our staff, we encourage parents to do that with which they are most comfortable. If the dentist feels that your child will do better on his/her own, that decision will be made only if you, the parent, feels comfortable with it. In most cases, we encourage parents to join their children for treatment and exams. Our goal is to help your child overcome any anxiety he/she may have and to gain his/her trust and increase his/her comfort level.

Why are the primary teeth so important?

Primary/baby teeth are important because they facilitate chewing and function. These teeth also help to guide the eruption of permanent teeth. In addition, the position of the primary teeth contributes to the development of muscle and bone in and around the mouth. Even though the front teeth will be lost relatively early (6-8yrs), the back (posterior) teeth will last until 11-12 years of age. Allowing cavities to go untreated can lead to abscesses and infection. For these reasons, your child’s teeth should be regularly evaluated and treated.

How are appointments scheduled?

We try to schedule appointments when it is convenient for you and your child. For younger children, morning appointments may be better due to the fact that they will be more rested. We also encourage parents to avoid setting appointments during or just before the child’s nap time. Patients with more complex treatment plans should be seen in the morning.

The arranged appointment time has been reserved for your child and we request a 24-hour notice for any change to his/her appointment. Such notice gives other patients who need to be seen a chance to schedule their appointment. We will be happy to work with you and your child to schedule appointments at times of mutual convenience.

How do my child’s teeth develop?

Your child’s teeth begin forming before birth and continue forming until late in the teenage years. The diagram below illustrates the AVERAGE months and/or years these teeth erupt.

Primary vs. Permanent Teeth Eruption

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Dental Emergencies


Use warm salt water to rinse mouth. If you believe there might be some impacted food, use dental floss to dislodge. If the pain persists, contact us. Do not place aspirin or heat on the gum or on the aching tooth. If swelling exists, apply cold compresses and contact the Zoo Crew immediately.

Cut or bitten tongue, lip, or cheek

Bleeding should be controlled by using a damp towel and pressure. If bleeding persists, contact the us or, if more serious, seek medical attention. Applying ice will help to decrease swelling and pain.

Knocked out permanent tooth

Contact Zoo Crew as soon as possible. The tooth/teeth should be found and kept in Hanks Balanced Solution or cold whole milk. If you feel that the child can safely keep the tooth by his/her cheek inside the mouth, he/she can. The tooth should be handled by the part of the tooth that can be seen in the mouth and not the root. If there are other injuries, the patient should seek additional medical attention.

Knocked out baby tooth

A baby tooth should not be replaced. Zoo Crew should be contacted for evaluation.

Chipped or fractured permanent tooth

Contact Zoo Crew immediately. The tooth will need to be evaluated for treatment.

Chipped or fractured baby tooth

Contact us for evaluation. If minor, may need to be smoothed.

Broken or fractured jaw

Seek immediate medical attention.

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General Dental Questions

Should my child have X-Rays (Dental Radiographs)? Are they safe?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends radiographs and examinations every six months for children with a high risk of tooth decay. Zoo Crew will keep each child’s exposure to a minimum by using minimal exposure digital radiographs and only taking radiographs deemed necessary. Any questions or concerns can be addressed by your dentist.

When should my child use fluoride?

There should be fluoride in your child’s toothpaste. It is best to use only a small smear of toothpaste once per day until your child is good at spitting. The toothpaste should be kept out of reach of your child to ensure that he/she does not eat it.

Why does my child grind his/her teeth at night? (Bruxism)

There are different theories for the cause of grinding; the most prevalent being stress induced, inner ear pressure, or pain caused by teeth. Many times, there is no clear reason for the grinding and in these cases children most often outgrow the grinding teeth.

What should I do about thumb sucking?

Ideally, thumb sucking is discontinued prior to the eruption of permanent teeth. However, many times it is easier to eliminate the habit at an earlier age. If we are unable to eliminate the habit, it may be necessary to place an appliance in the mouth to help. It is made so that it “doesn’t work” when the child tries to suck his/her thumb. If you have questions, please ask at your next appointment or call and speak with the pediatric dentist.

What is pulp therapy?

When a tooth has a large cavity and the nerve is exposed, medication is placed onto the nerve. This treatment will help to keep the tooth from forming an abscess. It is still possible for an abscess to form, but this treatment significantly reduces the likelihood of abscess formation. A crown will be placed to help protect the tooth from breaking. The crown and medicine will be lost with the tooth.

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Early Infant Oral Care

Establishing a “dental home”

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommend establishing a “Dental Home” for your child by the age of one year. By establishing a dental home, children are more likely to receive appropriate preventive and routine oral health care. With the establishment of a Dental Home, Zoo Crew will provide parents with tools to help their kids grow up cavity free.

How do I prevent cavities?

The first step in cavity prevention is good oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing helps to remove bacteria and plaque from around your child’s teeth and gingiva. At the first sign of teeth, it is important to begin brushing. At this point, you only need to be using water on the toothbrush. The amount of time that teeth are exposed to cavity-causing foods and drinks determines the risk of future cavities. This is why it is important to provide juice and milk at meal times only. The rest of the time, your child should drink plain water. Once teeth have been brushed for the night, only water should be provided. Very young infants need to eat more frequently. Many may eat once or twice during the night. If this is the case, the teeth should be brushed before putting your child back into bed. As children age, they can help to brush their teeth but it is essential that you follow up after their brushing until you have determined that they are doing an adequate job. For older children, teeth should also be brushed at least twice a day. Begin flossing your child’s teeth once contact between teeth is seen. Limiting snacks is essential in decreasing the chance of cavities.

It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry that your child visit a pediatric dentist every six months. Visits should begin at age one (1) or within 6 months of the first tooth erupting. Routine visits help you and your child become familiar with the dentists and help to prevent future tooth decay.

What are sealants?

A sealant is a material that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars). Sealants help to decrease but not eliminate the chance of cavities. The tops of the back teeth are where four out of five cavities in children are found. Sealants act as a barrier against food, plaque and acid, thus protecting the teeth against decay.

How should I use fluoride?

Fluoride is beneficial in the fight against cavities. Its use must be monitored in children to prevent fluorosis. Fluorosis can range from mild to moderate or slight discoloration to severe break down on eruption of the permanent teeth. A small smear of toothpaste should be used once per day until child can expectorate (spit) properly. A small pea sized amount of toothpaste can then be used two times per day. Fluoride supplementation should only be used when the child is older than 6 months and all sources of fluoride have been calculated. If you feel that your child needs fluoride, please inform the dentist at your child’s next appointment or call and speak with one of the pediatric dentists.

Should my child use a mouth guard?

We encourage children and teens who participate in organized sports and recreational activities to take precautions to protect their teeth. Wearing a mouth guard that is properly fitted helps protect teeth from permanent damage. Mouth guards also help protect soft tissue and facial bones from injury. Feel free to ask your pediatric dentist about what might be best for your child.

Using Xylitol to reduce cavities

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recognizes the benefits of Xylitol for the oral health of infants, children, adolescents, and persons with special health care needs. For more information, please discuss the use of Xylitol with one of the pediatric dentists at your next visit.

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Enjoy Dental Care That’s Kid-Focused & Parent-Friendly!