Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is a pediatric dentist?
A. A pediatric dentist specializes in treating children. They complete two extra years of residency at a children's hospital after becoming a dentist. They are dedicated to maintaining oral health of children from infancy through the teenage years. Very young children, pre-teens and teenagers all require different approaches in managing their behavior, guiding their dental growth and development, and helping them avoid future dental problems. The pediatric dentist is best qualified to meet these unique needs.
Q. When should I bring my child to the dentist for the first time?
A. Near your child's first birthday, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, of which Dr. Shaw is a member.
Q. What should I tell my child about his or her first visit
A. That it will be easy! Dr. Shaw is going to count their teeth, clean their teeth, and give them a special toothbrush that they can take home. Best of all, they choose a toy and visit Sabrina the Tooth Fairy! Parents, you can help set the stage for a stress-free visit by showing your child our fun office photos and focusing on a positive attitude.
Q. What if my child is afraid and will not cooperate?
A. Dr. Shaw has been practicing for more than 30 years and has 3 children of her own. She has seen it all! Dr. Shaw and her staff are trained to help your children move past their fears to have an ABOVE + BEYOND experience. They will kindly and slowly show and explain what is going to be done before each step. Most parents are pleasantly surprised by how well their children do at their first visit.
Q. When do you take x-rays?
A. We recommend that the first x-rays be taken around age four, and once a year after that. Our x-ray equipment is inspected on a routine basis and is certified by the State of New Mexico to be safe for all patients, including young children.
Q. Will I go into the exam room with my children at their first visit?
A. Yes! Parents are always encouraged to accompany their children at their first appointment.
Q. May I be present at my child's check-ups?
Q. When will my child's first baby tooth come in?
A. For most children, two lower front teeth come in around six months of age.
Q. When will my child's first permanent tooth come in?
A. Two lower, front permanent teeth erupt around age six. Four permanent molars also erupt around age six in the posterior.
Q. What can I do for my baby's teething pain?
A. Give your baby a frozen teething ring, rub on teething medication, and give your baby Children's Tylenol.
Q. Why do my child's permanent teeth look more yellow than the baby teeth?
A. Permanent teeth are more yellow because they have more dentin. They look especially yellow when compared to baby teeth still in the mouth.
Q. What are the bumps or chips on my child's permanent front teeth?
A. These are normal irregularities that wear off over time.
Q. What do I do when my child's permanent teeth are coming in behind the baby teeth?
A. If the baby teeth do not come out in two weeks, your child needs to see Dr. Shaw about the possibility of removing them. Once the baby tooth is out, the permanent teeth will move forward. In the meantime, encourage your child to wiggle those loose teeth!
Q. What causes cavities?
A. Tooth decay is caused by bacteria turning sugar into acid, which dissolves and leaves holes in the tooth.
Q. What are bottle decay and nursing caries?
A. These are cavities caused by prolonged bottle use or breastfeeding. During sleep, there is less saliva produced. The sugar in the milk flows around the teeth, causing decay. Bottle and breastfeeding should be discontinued by your child’s first birthday. Never put your baby to bed with a bottle.
Q. Why restore a baby tooth that is just going to fall out?
A. Most baby teeth are not lost until between the ages of ten and twelve. Your child needs these teeth for many reasons, including to prevent future orthodontic problems. Ignoring a cavity in a baby tooth can lead to a painful toothache. With early detection, we can treat a cavity when it is still small and before it causes any pain or discomfort for your child.
Q. How long can my child use a bottle, pacifier, or sippy cup?
A. Bottle and pacifier use should be discontinued by your child’s first birthday. Sippy cup use should stop by 18 months.
Q. Is nighttime teeth-grinding normal?
A. Grinding is normal and this is how your child relaxes at night. Grinding usually stops by age ten.
Q. What is fluoride and why is it important?
A. It's a natural element found in drinking water. Fluoride reduces tooth decay. At your child's check-up, Dr. Shaw and her assistants can discuss your child's fluoride intake to ensure they are receiving a healthy dosage.
Q. What can I do about my child's thumb sucking?
A. The less said, the better. Most children stop thumb sucking around age two. If there is a trigger, such as a blanket, remove that trigger. Dr. Shaw has a program to help with thumb and finger sucking if the habit is still present at age four.
Q. What are sealants?
A. Sealants are made of a white, composite material and placed on the chewing surfaces of permanent teeth to prevent cavities from forming in the pits and grooves. Sealants are placed as soon as permanent molars erupt, usually around ages 6 and 12. Your child's health and safety is our top concern, so our office only uses sealants that are BPA-free.
Q. What is a pulpotomy or nerve treatment?
A. It is removing the diseased part of the dental pulp (the nerve) in primary (baby) teeth. A medicated restoration is placed, then a crown is placed over the tooth.
Q. How are fillings done on a frightened child?
A. Our priority is to create a positive experience for your child while accomplishing the task at hand. We invite you to stay with your child during the first visit and all subsequent checkups. The presence of parents in the operatories during the restorative treatments (fillings) interferes with our efforts to establish communication and gain your child's trust. This is especially true with the anxious or fearful child. With parents giving directions from one side, and the dentist on the other side, the child listens to neither. It is easiest for the child when the parents make a positive, quick separation in the waiting room. Dr. Shaw and her staff are very experienced in helping children overcome their fear and anxiety. Separation anxiety diminishes quickly as your child begins to experience his or her dental visit with our highly trained staff in our friendly environment. To us, success is for your child to have a positive experience!
Q. What insurance do you accept?
A. We are an in-network provider for Delta Dental Premier, Delta PPONM, Aetna PPO, the United Concordia Comcast NBC Universal Elite plan, and are participating with the Cigna Discount Plans.
We can file other plans on an out-of-network basis. We do not accept any of the Medicaid/Centennial Care Plans. Many dental plans, including Sandia Labs, State of New Mexico employees with PPO New Mexico plan and APS employees with PPO New Mexico plan, are usually covered 100%.