Tag Archives: pediatric dentist

Affordable Dentistry During Inflation

The rising costs of everything have been eating away at the worth of my husband’s paycheck. He already works so hard so I can raise our four young children and I’m worried that we won’t be able to afford the dentist this entire year. Our dentist’s prices went up again this year. I don’t blame him. He’s dealing with inflation just like the rest of the country. But, I haven’t been able to afford their last appointment and I’m worried about the children’s teeth. Are there ways to find affordable dentistry in this climate?


Dear Gina,

Dollar sign hatching from an egg
There is a difference between affordable and cheep dentistry

I understand what you are going through. Everyone seems to be feeling this pinch, which is causing a vicious cycle of rising costs. I have some things that may help, even if it doesn’t solve all of your problems.

What You Can Do At Home

While most parents know and do the obvious things, such as brushing and flossing their children’s teeth daily, there are a couple of things that seem to surprise people. In case your pediatric dentist hasn’t told you about them, here they are:

First, limit snacks. Believe it or not, one of the best defenses against decay is actually saliva, which contains bacteria fighting minerals. However, the more your children snack, the less chance their saliva has to do its job. I know growing children are always hungry, but if you can limit them to one snack a day it will go a LONG way to fighting cavity causing bacteria. Plus, you will have the additional benefit of them actually being hungry enough to eat the food you lovingly prepare for them at their meals.

Second, know many juices contain citrus acid. This can eat away at their enamel. While some of those juices, like orange juice, can be healthy, you don’t want it to counteract what you’re trying to do for their teeth. One mistake people make is thinking brushing immediately after drinking something acidic will protect their teeth from the damage. Unfortunately, it has the opposite effect. Instead, it grinds the acid into their teeth. If you’re going to give them a juice right before bedtime when they are going to brush, have them swish some water around their mouth first, to neutralize the acid.

Finding An Affordable Dentist

Don’t confuse cheap with affordable. If a dentist is significantly lower than all other dentists in their area, it is a red flag. They could be using poor quality fixtures to keep their profits up, or they are terrible dentists who have to keep their prices super low to draw in new patients.

Sometimes an area a dental office is in can keep prices higher. Rent for office space is different depending on the real estate location. Sometimes you can save some money from going to a dentist that is just outside of an expensive area. You can get high quality care with slightly lower prices because the dentist’s overhead is lower.

Do an internet search using the term “affordable dentist” and the area you are looking. Often dentists who strive to keep their prices down will have a web page devoted to how they strive to make things easier for families. Just be certain to check their reviews to make sure the quality of care is what you want for your children.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.

White Fillings in Children

I have a question about white fillings. My son needs his first filling. I am really uncomfortable with the silver fillings because of the mercury in them. I asked my dentist about getting him a white filling but he said they don’t work well in children. Why is that? Will the silver ones be dangerous for him?


Dear Mallory,

Let’s start with your last question first. Are the silver fillings dangerous? The American Dental Association still says that silver amalgam fillings are safe. Understandably, though, many patients and parents are uncomfortable with the high mercury content.

While composite (white) fillings are a tad trickier with children, that doesn’t mean they are not able to have white fillings. The struggle is because the composite material has to stay completely dry while it is being placed. That can be tricky for wiggly little ones.

If having a composite filling is important to you, I have found that using some nitrous oxide allows the children to completely relax if their nerves are making them figity. Most of the time they end up sleeping through the procedure.

That being said, I wouldn’t push your current dentist into this. The technique for placing composite fillings is completely different from placing amalgam fillings. I have often found that dentists who try to steer you to a different procedure are actually doing that to keep from admitting they can’t do the one you want. If you pressure him into the other procedure, he will likely not do it correctly.

I suggest that you look for a dentist who advertises as a mercury-free dentist and then see if they are also a pediatric dentist. They don’t have to be a pediatric specialist. Instead, they can be a general dentist who enjoys treating children. They are qualified and do a pediatric rotation so your children will be in good hands.

This blog is brought to you by Phoenix Dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.

Is a Pediatric Dentist or General Dentist Better for a Special Needs Teen?


I recently became a foster parent to a teen with special needs. He just wants to be treated like everyone else, so I’m not sure which dentist to take him to. he’s not a child, so he may balk at a pediatric dentist, but I think they may be more patient with him. I’m worried he may be nervous if I take him to a general dentist’s office, and the staff may not be used to treating patients like him.

Which should I go to? Any advice?

Elizabeth, from Raleigh, NC


Hi Elizabeth,

Your worries are valid and echo a lot of concerns shared by parents of special needs children and teens.

Either dentist will be able to accommodate your teen. A pediatric dentist is a dentist who has had additional post-graduate education pertaining specifically to children’s oral needs. Be sure to check your prospective dentist’s credentials, and feel free to call the dentist’s office with questions. Most pediatric dental offices will treat toddlers or young children in addition to teens. Dr. Peck in Phoenix, AZ has dental tips for parents on her website for what parents can expect for children at the dentist.

However, you should involve him in the decision-making process. Ask him where he would like to go, and check websites together. To make him feel more comfortable, see if you can schedule a walk-through of the office prior to your appointment, so he knows what to expect. If you have a dentist’s appointment coming up, invite him along to show him its no big deal. Little things like these can make a big difference when it comes to your child’s treatment.

This blog post is brought to you by Phoenix pediatric dentist, Dr. Hillary Peck, of Peck Family Dentistry.

What Can I Do About My Son’s Broken Baby Teeth?


Our family dentist is recommending an extraction for two of my son’s back teeth. She found that some of his back teeth have broken from decay and have cavities. However, he is only 7 and still has his baby teeth. Isn’t he too young for extractions? What should I do?

Thank you,

Noel, from Charleston, South Carolina


Hi Noel,

Yes, your family dentist is correct – your son does need these teeth extracted. If these teeth are not removed, the decay can spread down to your son’s jaw and cause more problems down the line. If your son had his adult teeth, a root canal would be an option, but it’s not available for baby teeth.

When certain baby teeth are extracted, a space maintainer can be placed in your child’s mouth. Space maintainers are placeholders, and will prevent your son’s molars from growing in sideways.

If you dentist did not recommend these to you, you should seek a second opinion from a pediatric dentist. Dentists with additional training and experience in treating children would be your best option.

For more information on how to prepare your son for his upcoming appointment, you can check Dr. Peck’s dental tips for parents page.

This blog post is brought to you by Phoenix pediatric dentist, Dr. Hillary Peck, of Peck Family Dentistry. Please note that pediatric dentistry is not a specialty recognized by the ADA, but Dr. Peck is comfortable and experienced in treating the needs of children.


Is Sedation Dentistry Necessary For My Child?

My daughter is eight. She is a sweet, cooperative little girl, and generally healthy. We have maintained consistent dental habits, which include flossing and using mouthwash daily. She was recently diagnosed with a cavity at her last dental checkup.

When we returned to the dentist office for the cavity to be filled, she seemed a bit fidgety. It was as if she couldn’t get comfortable, and was nervous. This wasn’t surprising, as this was the first dental procedure she’d undergone. Therefore, I decided to leave the room, thinking my presence was causing her to be additionally worried, as sometimes has happened with her.

After some time had passed, I assumed everything was going smoothly, until I heard her screaming. When I rushed into the exam room, I found her curled into a ball on the table, unable to be consoled by the dentist or his assistant.

The dentist exited the room, to give me an opportunity to calm her down. When I asked the assistant to tell me what happened, she informed me that my daughter had clamped down on the dentist’s hand when he was trying to numb her, biting him, then began flailing and flinging her arms and legs. This also caused her to bite down on the drill, which cracked his tooth.

The dentist returned to check in on my daughter, but mentioned to me that a pediatric dentist may be a better fit.

I am concerned about the trauma this caused her, and what to do going forward. She is now in need of a crown, and I want to be sure this situation does not repeat itself. Should I consider sedation prior to her next procedure? I know very little about it, or its possible side effects, but know that my daughter cannot have another experience like this one.

Any guidance you can provide would be greatly appreciated.


Dear Janice,

It is unfortunate that your daughter went through this experience, especially considering she had several positive dental visits prior to this one.

It is good that your dentist suggested you find see a pediatric dentist, especially since she now has further damage, and has experienced such trauma. Perhaps you could schedule a routine checkup for your daughter with a pediatric dentist first. This way, she can learn about the dentist, become familiar with the office, and understanding what goes into a child’s first visit to a dentist.

Once she has a positive experience with the dentist, you could schedule a follow-up appointment for the crown procedure. And, you are correct, sedation dentistry may be the best option for her. But, dental anxiety is best addressed by communicating with your dentist. Perhaps you can privately share about her previous dental experience. This way, the pediatric dentist can help you determine if sedation dentistry is the route you should go, or, if there are other ways to address her nervousness and anxiety.

The right choice will ultimately depend on what types of sedation the dentist offers, as well as what you feel is the best fit for your daughter.

This blog post is brought to you by the office of Dr. Matt Roper, a Gilbert sedation dentist.

How do pediatric dentists treat children who won’t cooperate?

Many dentists enjoy treating children, even children who are somewhat difficult to treat. They enjoy them, have fun with them, and find fulfillment in focusing on the children and helping them receive the care they need and deserve. However, even if a parent does all he or she can to prepare a child for their appointment, one of the biggest obstacles in treating children is their movement. Some children will not lay still.

Methods for Controlling Child Movement During Dental Procedures

One way a dentist could attempt to control movement is with the use of a mouth prop, called a molt mouth gag to prevent the young patients from biting down during a procedure, and causing further pain and damage.

photo of a mouth molt gag
Mouth molt gag

However, some children are more difficult to control and need more restraint, in order to treat them effectively and safely. Even with multiple attempts to calm them down, some children still throw their arms and legs, risking their safety and preventing treatment. For these children, parents will be asked for permission to physically restrain their child. When permission is granted, the dentist may wrap the child in a papoose, and then complete the treatment.

Child in dental office wrapped in papoose

The papoose technique is not meant to be harmful, traumatic, or mean. It is only used on incredibly strong-willed children who refuse to lay still, thus making it impossible to treat them safely. It ultimately allows the child to calm down.

When the successful treatment is complete, the child will be congratulated, often given a chance to pick a toy or treat from the prize box or treasure chest, and walk away feeling good.

This article was provided by the office of Phoenix pediatric dentist Dr. Hillary Peck.


Is my child too young for a flipper?

My three year old daughter lost her two front teeth after she experienced a nasty fall on our front sidewalk. We recently moved to a new community and were testing the waters with a new dentist. When we visited with him about her losing her front teeth, I asked about flippers, or some form of cosmetic teeth. The dentist rudely informed me that she was too young for a flipper and and will not cooperate for that sort of procedure. Do you agree? I assume a procedure like this wouldn’t be covered by our medical coverage, and the kits which can be purchased online are all made for adults. I am just concerned about future repercussions of this and taking any more time than we already have to address the issue. Thank you for your input!

Dear Mary,
How awful that your young daughter experienced such a fall! It is also unfortunate that the dentist you visited gave you such a response. Nonetheless, he is correct. It would be nearly impossible for a child the age of your daughter to understand the importance of complying with a procedure for a flipper. In addition, there are other issues to consider for a child of this age.

Issues With Young Child Receiving a Flipper

Safety is a major concern. Just as it is hazardous to allow young children to play with small toys, or toys with small parts that have the potential to come loose and cause them to choke, something like a flipper has the potential to also come loose and is also a choking hazard.

Functionality is also a consideration. Metal clips or plastic parts clip or press against the other teeth in order to hold a flipper in place. Because a child’s mouth and teeth are constantly developing and changing at this age, it would be impossible for an appliance such as this to stay in place for any lengthy period of time.

Positive Points to Consider with Premature Loss of Front Teeth

Fortunately, there are some positive points to consider in this situation. To start with, your daughter’s baby teeth won’t move because of missing front teeth. When baby teeth change position, it is a result of missing back teeth lost too early. When this is the case, a space maintainer is often a necessity. A second consideration is that, at this age, children are not self-conscious about missing teeth. Children of all ages are missing teeth, either because they haven’t grown in yet, or because they have lost their baby teeth and their permanents have yet to grow in. Therefore, it is quite common to see a child without all of his or her teeth.

Overall, this is not an issue to worry about.

This post was brought to you by Phoenix pediatric dentist, Dr. Hillary Peck.

How to prepare for a child’s first dental appointment

We have scheduled our 5 year old son for his first dental visit. He is very shy and quite apprehensive to people he isn’t comfortable around. Are there are specific ways we can prepare him so he will not be afraid?

Thank you,

Dear Brooke,
It can definitely be stressful to take your child to the dentist for his or her first time. However, there are many things you can do to make the experience a fun and teachable one. The biggest thing to remember is that if you are stressed or anxious, he will feel that. Try not to say things like, “Don’t be afraid,” “It’s not scary,” or “It won’t hurt,” when you discuss the dental appointment. Be sure to remember that any negative dental experiences you have had are your experiences and not necessarily indicative of the type of experience he will have. Talk about the appointment like it is a natural thing for him to do, but show excitement about it being his first appointment, like you would his first haircut. It is a great idea to let him come along with you to one of your appointments, so he can become familiar with the office, the staff, and the routine. If this is not an option, or you are using a new office, call ahead to to find out what you can expect, or visit the office’s website, in order to talk with him about it. Read books about going to the dentist, or watch cartoons. You could also role play at home, first with you playing the dentist role, then switch and let your son be the dentist. But, again, the most important component in this is to build-up the experience as a positive one.

It is also a good idea to try to schedule a morning appointment, so he can be well-rested and have had a good breakfast beforehand. Be sure to arrive to your appointment somewhat early, to allow your son a chance to become used to the office. If, by chance, your office does not allow parents to accompany children to the exam room, you should be aware beforehand to decrease his anxiety about this. However, if you are able to go back, snap a photo of her being a good patient and cooperating.

Many offices give children toothbrushes and other goodies such as balloons or tokens when they are finished. If the dental office does not provide these, it’s a great idea to have a toothbrush and small toy or reward to give him at the end of the appointment. You just want to be sure to reinforce the good behavior.

Also, please remember, if the visit is not as positive as you hoped for, and practiced for, don’t fret. Many children take time to become comfortable to new places and things. It will be good to have already been in the office and provided the experience. Then, try again after a few months. Good luck!

This post is sponsored by the office of Phoenix pediatric dentist, Dr. Hillary Peck.

Does my child’s baby tooth need a filling?

My daughter is seven years old. One of her baby teeth has a cavity and her pediatric dentist says it needs filled. I’m struggling with this prognosis. If the tooth is going to eventually fall out, does it really need filled? Or, is the dentist just wanting the money?

Thank you,

Dear Ann,

If the tooth with the cavity on it happens to be one of your daughter’s eight front teeth, there is no reason to have it filled. However, if the tooth in question is in the back, there are several reasons to fill it, as it could be a few years before the tooth falls out since some baby teeth stay in a child’s mouth until age 12 or more. In fact, there are some adults who still have baby teeth due to no permanent teeth growing in under them. An x-ray is the only way to know this or not. Needless to say, if the tooth with the cavity is a back tooth, she needs to have it filled in order to keep the tooth and hold the space for the adult teeth to come in correctly.  Letting things go and not filling the tooth will cause further decay to build up and she will eventually have to have the tooth extracted, which can be a traumatic experience for a child. If the tooth is pulled, a space maintainer will be needed, in order to keep the space for the adult tooth. If the tooth is removed or comes out too soon, and nothing is put in its place, the other teeth takeover the space and will prevent the eruption of the permanent tooth. This would cause a definite need for orthodontics in her future. Another point to consider, if the tooth in question is her last baby tooth, is is likely it is her six-year molar. This is a permanent tooth and would most definitely require a filling.

This post was written by the office of Phoenix pediatric dentist, Dr. Hillary Peck.

Should I see a pediatric dentist for my child’s loose tooth?

My elementary school-aged son has had loose front-teeth for a couple of months now. He complains that they hurt and give her trouble when he eats and applies pressure on them from his tongue. When I look at them, I can see them moving around and that they are very loose, so I can tell they are ready to come out. However, he will not let me near him in order to extract them myself, nor will he pull them out himself. I know a pediatric dentist could remedy the issue quickly and easily but am not sure this is something for which they see patients? I know they will pull teeth that need to be pulled, but will they remove a tooth that is basically hanging by a thread?


Dear Dan,

The ligaments which hold a tooth in place are just like a rubber band. They will stretch out but then tighten back up, causing the process of losing a baby tooth to be quite a process. It appears that your son could be experiencing this to some extent, which could be why it is taking the tooth longer to fall out on its own than you might be used to.

It’s generally a good idea to let baby teeth do their thing until they fall out naturally. Attempting to pull a baby tooth prematurely not only hurts the child but can cause unnecessary trauma to the area. The baby tooth also helps keep the space open for the adult tooth to come in.

If the tooth is bothering your child, seeing a pediatric dentist would not be a bad idea. He or she can assess the situation and ensure nothing out of the ordinary is happening or causing the delay. If the dentist determines that the baby tooth will not come out on its own, he or she may suggest extraction as a solution. But, if you think your son will oppose a dentist, as he does when you try to touch the tooth, it may be better to wait it out and let nature take its course.

This content is brought to you by office of Phoenix pediatric dentist, Dr. Hillary Peck.