- Our Services
- We recommend a dental exam when the first tooth comes in and no later than age one…which means that we want to see those cute babies! Due to their young age, fear of strangers, and lack of communication, it is expected that your baby will cry and refuse to lay by themselves for a cleaning and exam. For children under the age of two it is very typical and usually preferable to perform the cleaning and exam between the laps of the doctor and parent, what we call a knee-to-knee exam. This position allows the child to be comforted by their own parent while providing stability and good visibility for the doctor. Most babies cry for the entire visit, which is expected and somewhat preferable because that means their mouth is wide open and all teeth are visible.
Do not fear bringing your baby to the dentist too early because you are concerned they won’t behave.
The goal of the infant oral exam is mostly parent education and familiarization. The earlier we can see your children the better because we can educate parents/caregivers about the importance and safety of brushing with fluoride toothpaste as soon as teeth erupt (no training toothpaste!), we can discuss good and bad dietary habits, and we can identify early signs/risks of dental decay in order to prevent cavities. It's never too early to start seeing the dentist!
There is no need to be scared of the dentist! At your child’s first visit to our office we will explain all cleaning procedures to him or her so they will know what to expect. During the exam, one of our specially trained pediatric dentists will look inside your child’s mouth to make sure that the teeth are healthy, the occlusion (bite) is developing properly, and the gums are healthy.!
During the prophy (cleaning), a hygienist will clean and polish the teeth using special dental tools like a tooth scraper (scaler), mirror, toothbrush, and prophy cup. The tooth scraper removes plaque and tartar, This is a very important step, because if plaque is not removed from the teeth, it can cause gingivitis, or even a cavity. Plaque is a thin and sticky layer that covers the teeth and contains bacteria, and if it remains of the teeth long enough it will harden and become tartar (calculus) that can only be removed by a dental professional.
The next step is brushing and flossing. For the brushing, we use special spinning toothbrush that moves around special toothpaste to polish the teeth. The toothpaste we use might taste like normal toothpaste at home, but it feels a bit gritty like sand. This will make sure that we get each tooth nice and clean, and help kick cavities out!
Finally, we floss your child’s teeth. We show him or her how to use a piece of waxy string (dental floss) to get in between the teeth and remove food particles that the brush can’t reach.
Depending on the child’s age, dental development, and risk factors associated with cavities, the doctor might decide to take x-rays. The type and amount of x-rays varies for each individual child. At the first visit, it is typical to either have no x-rays, one panoramic (full mouth) x-ray, or a combination of front and back x-rays (bitewings and occlusals). Our pediatric dental assistants and hygienists are highly skilled at getting x-rays on children, even at very young ages when most assistants at a general dentist would not even attempt to take x-rays. These images offer extremely valuable information that is not visible with human eye. X-rays are crucial for identifying cavities, infections, missing teeth, extra teeth, and other abnormalities that would be otherwise undetectable.
We offer several different types of exams which include infant lap exams, new patient/comprehensive exams, routine check-up/ recall exams, limited/ emergency/ walk-in exams, and follow-up exams after trauma or surgery.
- Fluoride therapy
- Silver diamine fluoride (stop the cavity and prevent the need for a filling)
- Deep cleanings
- Crowns (white crowns, stainless steel crowns)
- Pulp therapy (root canals, baby root canals, indirect pulp caps)
- Space maintainers
Discussing your child’s current diet and eating patterns gives us the opportunity to help you protect their teeth from cavities based on nutrition. We discuss your child’s diet at every appointment because as they grow, what they eat and drink are likely to change. A quick discussion of your child’s diet will include:
- Their current foods, drinks, and snacks
- The frequency each is consumed
- Tips for any recommended adjustments
We ask about your child’s current nutrition habits in order to point out the good, the bad, and offer suggestions when needed. We understand that all children are unique and may have differing overal health needs. Being able to understand how your child’s teeth and gums are impacted by nutrition can help reduce their risk for cavities, and helps you avoid more costly, complicated dental treatments in the future.
Our doctors are pediatric dentists, not orthodontists (doctors who straighten teeth). However, they have extensive training in growth and development and often work in conjunction with local orthodontists. We assess your child’s growth and tooth alignment at every visit in order to make timely referrals to the orthodontist when it is necessary. Although Dr. Ostby and Dr. Roalofs are not orthodontists, they have the skills and training that are necessary to manage the child’s occlusion before, during and after your child is in braces. This means that we routinely use space maintainers, palatal expanders, and retainers to either maintain or regain space for the erupting permanent teeth. We understand that not all insurances cover braces, and orthodontics can be extremely expensive. If your insurance does not cover ortho or you have limited finances, our doctors would be happy to discuss some limited ortho options that we offer here.
Nitrous oxide: Nitrous Oxide, commonly known as “laughing gas”, is widely used in pediatric dental offices with children receiving dental care. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recognizes this as a very safe, effective technique for helping children tolerate dental care. It is ideal because it is extremely safe, begins to work rapidly, and is quickly eliminated from the body without side effects. Children breathing nitrous oxide are fully conscious and keep all natural reflexes. Please note that children need to be able to breathe through their nose in order to receive nitrous oxide, so if your child is congested/stuffed up it will not be effective. Also, it is not always effective in extremely anxious/fearful children. In those situations, pharmacological intervention may be necessary for work to be completed in a safe environment.
Light sedation/ oral conscious sedation (in office): Oral sedation (taken by mouth) is a popular option for many children precisely because of its many benefits and ease of use. We recommend this option for children over two years old who are extremely nervous/fearful and might require the use of protective stabilization during treatment. We use liquid medicine that relaxes children and helps them not remember things, but once again they are conscious and maintain their protective reflexes. Some children become very sleepy, but the purpose is not to put the child to sleep. Versed (midazolam) and Vistaril (hydroxyzine) are used either together or separately, and they are fast-acting and safe sedation medications that have very few side effects when administered properly (by a trained pediatric dentist). If our doctors recommend this type of treatment, they will thoroughly explain what to expect before, during, and after the sedation.
General anesthesia (surgery center/hospital):Outpatient General Anesthesia is recommended for children with extensive restorative needs (more than 4 teeth/2 quadrants of dental work), extremely apprehensive children, very young children, and children with special needs that would not tolerate treatment using the other traditional methods. General anesthesia renders your child completely asleep. This would be the same as if he/she was having their tonsils removed, ear tubes placed, or hernia repaired. This is performed in a hospital or outpatient surgery setting only. If our doctors think that this is the best route to complete treatment, they will fully prepare you for everything that will happen leading up to, during, and after the surgery. Our staff is happy to answer any questions you may have about treatment under general anesthesia.
What Is A Pediatric Dentist?
The pediatric dentist has an extra two to three years of specialized training after dental school, and is dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through the teenage years. Infants, toddlers, adolescents, pre-teens, and teenagers all need different approaches in dealing with their behavior, guiding their dental growth and development, and helping them avoid future dental problems. The pediatric dentist is best qualified to meet these needs.
We have two highly qualified Board Certified Pediatric Dentists, but for your convenience here is a complete list of all the board certified pediatric dentists in Anchorage
Why Are The Primary Teeth Important?
It is very important to maintain the health of the primary teeth. Neglected cavities can, and frequently do, lead to problems which affect developing permanent teeth. Primary teeth, or baby teeth, are important for (1) proper chewing and eating, (2) providing space for the permanent teeth and guiding them into the correct position, and (3) permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. Primary teeth also affect the development of speech and add to an attractive appearance. While the front 4 teeth last until 6-7 years of age, the back teeth (caninesuspids and molars) are not replaced until age 10-13.