+ What is a pediatric dentist and why should my child see one?
A pediatric dentist is a dentist who is educated and experienced in diagnosing and treating the oral health needs of children from infancy through young adulthood. Pediatric dentists complete 2-3 years of additional, specialized training beyond the 4 years of dental school in areas such as growth and development, behavior management, preventive dentistry, dental emergencies, and treatment of patients with medical or developmental special needs, to name a few.

Children are not just little adults! There are several big and small differences between kids’ and adult teeth. Pediatric dentists ONLY see kids, so we are well aware of these differences and how they affect dental treatment. We are also well versed in behavior management techniques, both with and without medication, that a general (adult) dentist may not be trained in or comfortable providing to kids. We love children, and we’re to make your child’s dental experience as comfortable as possible. Consider us the pediatricians of the dental world.

+ When should my child begin seeing a pediatric dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends seeing a pediatric dentist when your child’s first tooth erupts or no later than their first birthday. Starting dental visits at a young age provides parents with essential dental and nutritional education for their little ones, allows early assessment of growth and development, establishes the importance of dental care and gets kids used to coming to the dentist for routine visits.

Many times a child’s first dental visit is due to a problem, such as pain. Our philosophy here at Winning Smiles is preventive dentistry. Routine visits at a young age can catch dental problems, including cavities, early enough so that treatment may not be as invasive if seen later on. Rest assured that if dental treatment is needed, your child will already have trust established between themselves and our dental team.

+ What should we expect at the first visit?
First visits do not have to be stressful! We invite you and your child to explore our relaxing dental home and meet the team prior to their first appointment. For more detailed information about how to prepare for and what will occur at the first appointment, please visit our “First visit” page

+ When will my baby begin getting teeth?
Every child is different so ages vary, but the average age range is 6-10 months. A complete chart can be found here: Click Here for Chart

+ When will my child lose their first tooth and start getting adult teeth?
Again, every child will vary, but the average age range is 6-7 years old. A complete chart can be found here: Click Here for Chart

+ Should I brush my baby’s teeth?
Yes, but only using a smear of toothpaste and a soft, small, age appropriate toothbrush. Excess toothpaste can be removed with gauze or a washcloth. “Brushing” should actually start prior to the first tooth eruption, using a wet washcloth or gauze to wipe your baby’s gums. Once a tooth appears, begin brushing two times a day as advised above.

+ What can I do to prevent cavities in my child’s teeth?
Saliva has dental decay fighting properties, but salivary flow decreases at nighttime, decreasing these germ fighting capabilities. Never put your baby or infant to sleep with a bottle filled with anything other than water. Even diluted juice or milk contains sugar that can harm their teeth. If bottle or breastfeeding before bed or in the middle of the night, wipe your child’s gums and teeth with a wet washcloth or gauze before putting them to sleep. Likewise, unless being used at mealtime, only fill a sippy cup with water. A small amount of juice or white milk can be placed in a sippy cup at mealtime.

Limit the amount of sugars, both solid and liquid, in your child’s diet. Water is the beverage of choice throughout the day, with small amounts of juice or white milk being consumed only at mealtime. Juice, sports/energy drinks, flavored (chocolate, strawberry, vanilla) milk, pop, candy, and foods with large amounts of starch and carbohydrates should be eaten sparingly or as a treat to avoid dental decay.

Assist your child with brushing and flossing until 6-7 years old. Younger children are encouraged to brush on their own, but be sure to check and re-brush their teeth, especially before bedtime. Brushing should occur twice a day, flossing once a day.

+ Why do you need to take x-rays? Are they safe?
In many instances, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to visualize dental problems. Missing or extra teeth and certain types of infections, trauma or cavities can only be visualized via an x-ray. Without this image, a diagnosis could be missed.

At Winning Smiles, we utilize the latest digital x-ray technology which produces a small amount of radiation, especially compared to film type x-rays. The portable x-ray unit used by the staff is highly focused on only the area in question. Additionally, an apron will be placed over your child’s torso and neck to further ensure that the x-ray beam only focuses on the mouth.

+Why do you use fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in some food and water sources. It can be used to help strengthen teeth. When used in appropriate amounts, fluoride can help prevent dental decay. Dr. Erin will determine the appropriate amount of fluoride for your child.

+ What insurance do you take?
UPMC Dental Advantage and Cigna PPO. We accept all other commercial insurances on an out of network basis. We only accept PPO policies, no HMO or DMO programs, and we do not accept state or government insurance.

+ What if I don’t have dental insurance?
Our goal is to take care of your child. Finances should not prevent that. If you do not currently have dental insurance, we also offer Care Credit, a third party, no interest credit line that can be used at other dental and medical offices as well. We also accept checks and major credit cards. Payment is expected at the time services are rendered. To view our full payment policy, please see the financial policy page

+ Why doesn’t my insurance cover everything?
No dental insurance plans cover 100% of everything. Depending on the plan, preventive services such as cleanings, exams and fluoride may be covered 100%, but restorative (fillings, etc.) and other services will not. By giving us your dental insurance information prior to your child’s appointment, the team at Winning Smiles will do our best to estimate out of pocket expense, if any. It is also your responsibility to know your dental coverage.

Treatment plans are fluid and the insurance company will have the final say as to what is covered, so please be aware that out of pocket expenses could change from our estimate. If you have specific questions about why certain procedures are not covered, please contact your insurance company.

+ Is it really that important to fix baby teeth?
Short answer, yes! Cavities, whether in baby or adult teeth, are a bacterial infection. Just like any other infection, cavities can cause pain, spread from tooth to tooth, or, in certain circumstances, to other parts of the body. Because baby teeth have thinner enamel (outer) layers, cavities can grow and spread quicker than in adult teeth. Untreated cavities can lead to several missed days of school and lack of nutritional intake, so it is important to get rid of the cavities so that the infection is removed, form and function restored and your child’s pain diminished.

Though baby teeth do eventually fall out, they are just as important as adult teeth. Not only do they help with eating and speech, baby teeth act as a guide for adult teeth. Some baby teeth, like those in the back, do not normally fall out until 10-12 years old. Therefore, early loss of baby teeth can lead to orthodontic problems (crowding) in adult teeth which could mean braces in the future.

+ My child has an appointment for treatment with nitrous oxide. What do I need to know?
Nitrous oxide or “laughing gas” is very safe and is used for a more comfortable dental experience. It is recommended for the slightly anxious or young dental patient.

Before an appointment with nitrous oxide, your child may have a light meal. A small fitted mask will be placed over their nose, the laughing gas inhaled and treatment completed. Laughing gas rapidly and temporarily makes your child experience a tingling or floating sensation. This sensation goes away soon after the nitrous nose is removed, so your son or daughter can resume normal activities.

+ My child has an appointment for treatment with oral conscious sedation. What do I need to know?
Dr. Erin has recommended treatment with oral conscious sedation for the purpose of making your moderately anxious or young child feel more comfortable and accepting of dental treatment. It can also be used when there are multiple cavities to be addressed during that appointment. Oral conscious sedation is a safe adjunct to dental treatment as it is a mixture of two medications: a painkiller and an antihistamine, like Benadryl.

Prior to an appointment with oral conscious sedation, your child should have an empty stomach. NO food or beverages are to be consumed from midnight the night before the appointment. This type of appointment will always be in the morning at the office. Your son or daughter should also be healthy with no coughing, congestion or fever. If your child is currently sick or getting over a sickness within the last few weeks, it is imperative to contact our office prior to bringing them in for their appointment. It is EXTREMELY important to follow these instructions to ensure your child’s health and safety.

At the office, your child’s current health and weight will be assessed. You will accompany them to our relaxing pre-treatment suite, where liquid sedation medication based on weight will be consumed. While waiting 45-60 minutes for the medicine to become effective, your child may become groggy or woozy. This is normal. Your child will then be taken to a private treatment room to undergo the dental procedure. Laughing gas, in addition to this medicine, is used once in the private treatment room to make your son or daughter feel even more relaxed. Don’t be surprised if eyes close during treatment, your child is just very comfy! Because this sedation liquid sticks around in the body for a while, your kid will feel slightly woozy for a few hours after leaving the office and should not go to school/daycare or participate in any physical activities that day. Unless another child is being treated, please do not bring any other kids with you to the office as you will need to focus on the one being treated. If multiple kids are being treated, please be advised that at least two adults will need to come to the appointment.

+ My child has an appointment for treatment under general anesthesia. What do I need to know??
If your child is being seen at the outpatient surgery center under general anesthesia, it is because Dr. Erin feels that this is the safest, most efficient route for your young or severely anxious child or if your child has special medical, developmental or behavioral needs. This route is also recommended for children with extensive dental treatment plans, as all treatment will be completed that day.

As with oral conscious sedation, your kid MUST be in good health, free from coughing, congestion, fever or recent illness and on an empty stomach from midnight the night before. A highly qualified and experiences team of medical and dental professionals will take care of your child. An anesthesiologist will gently put and keep your child asleep and pain free for the duration of the procedure, and Dr. Erin will complete all of his or her dental treatment. When your child wakes up, they will have no memory of the procedure, but will be groggy for several hours following. No school, daycare, or physical activity for 24-48 hours.

At the office, your child’s current health and weight will be assessed. You will not be able to accompany your child in the operating suite, but rest assured that your child is in good hands. General anesthesia is a safe way to treat children when administered by a trained team of individuals, and it is routinely used by dental professionals in select patients and situations.
If you did not find the answer to your question here, please see our policies section or feel free to contact our office. We’re always here to help!

Please contact us if you have a question not listed. 

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