Frequently Asked Questions

When should my child first see a dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association recommend the first dental visit should occur when your child has his or her first baby tooth or by their 1st birthday

This may seem early but an early visit allows our doctors to speak to the parent and child about preventing cavities and getting the child used to their dental home.  Establishing a dental home for your infant at one year of age will begin to establish a sound foundation for healthy teeth and gums that lasts them a lifetime.  We require that a parent or legal guardian be present at the child’s first dental visit.

What do I do if my child has a dental emergency?

When your child needs urgent dental treatment, please contact our office at: 619-741-1500

Refer to our DENTAL EMERGENCY CARE GUIDELINES page.

How should I prepare my child for the first dental visit and subsequent treatment visits?

  • Read books about going to visit the dentist such as “Show Me Your Smile! : A Visit to the Dentist (Dora the Explorer)” by Christine Ricci
  • Consider taking your child with you to your own dental appointment if you are not an anxious patient yourself.
  • Talk about the upcoming visit in a positive, calm manner and do your best not to use words or terms that may cause anxiety.

Refer to our PREPARING FOR YOUR CHILD’S FIRST VISIT page.

What is sedation dentistry?

Sedation dentistry offers children who are anxious, fearful or have difficulty sitting for dental treatment, a more comfortable and stress-free experience. By utilizing safe and controlled sedation techniques, your child is eased into a state of complete relaxation before the delivery of care. In addition to reducing preoperative anxiety and discomfort, dental sedation reduces the emotional trauma associated with stressful dental visits to help a child feel more at ease immediately after treatment and at future appointments.

What is the difference between local anesthesia and dental sedation?

Local anesthesia involves an injection directly into or close to the area where your child’s dental procedure is being performed. While it eliminates any sensation of pain in the targeted area and may be sufficient for many children and procedures, it does not reduce the child’s anxiety level. When a child receives sedation for dental treatment, helpful medications to ease anxiety and promote relaxation are given before administering local anesthesia.

What are the different types of dental sedation?

Determining which type of sedation is best for your child depends upon his or her specific needs, health history, level of anxiety, and nature of the procedure. While nitrous oxide, which is also known as laughing gas, can provide some measure of relaxation, oral medications, as well as IV medications, offer more significant reductions in anxiety. Some children receiving comprehensive treatment or undergoing a complicated surgical procedure may require general anesthesia in a hospital setting.

We are on staff at Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego with privileges for general anesthesia services in the Operating Room. Additionally, we are equipped at our practice to provide general anesthesia with an anesthesiologist. Both of these options allow us to treat children who are too young or too fearful of the dental setting. When you consult with one of our doctors, these options are reviewed in more detail.