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Dental Sedation for Children

For many children, dental procedures can be scary occurrences. Despite explaining procedures and providing assurance, children can still be uncooperative during procedures. This may make it harder for the dentist to do the procedure quickly and efficiently, and can also increase the child’s anxiety levels. One solution to this problem is using dental sedation to relax the child during the procedure.

Dental sedation is not anesthesia. Anesthesia renders a patient completely unconscious and unresponsive, while sedation simply makes a child drowsy and relaxed. In this relaxed state, the child becomes more cooperative so that Dr. Atabaki can complete the procedure quickly and correctly. It makes the procedure safer for both dentist and patient since excess struggling on behalf of the child could lead to injury. Sedation will also decrease the child’s anxiety level allowing them to relax and not fear the procedure.

There are different types of sedation that Dr. Atabaki may offer including oral sedation, nitrous oxide, and intravenous (IV) sedation. Oral sedation is a liquid that your child swallows at the start of the appointment. Oral sedation generally needs at least twenty minutes before the sedation is effective. Nitrous oxide is commonly referred to as laughing gas and is delivered through a mask placed over the child’s mouth and nose. Nitrous oxide takes only about five minutes before it is effective. Finally, IV sedation is administered via a needle inserted into the patient’s vein on the back of the hand. The effect is immediate. Most dentists will use nitrous oxide to put the patient in a calm state before inserting the IV and will remove it before the child even realizes it’s there.

If sedation is recommended for your child’s procedure, there are a few guidelines that must be followed prior to the procedure. Depending on the type of procedure and sedation being used, Dr. Atabaki may want your child to visit their pediatrician for a medical evaluation. You may then need to bring proof of this evaluation to the dental appointment. Also, no matter what type of sedation, you will most likely be told to not let your child eat or drink anything after midnight. Sometimes, if the procedure is later in the day clear liquids may be permitted, but you must always consult with your dentist. If you do not follow the instructions Dr. Atabaki gives you, the appointment will be canceled for the safety of your child.

You will also want to make sure that your child is comfortable during the procedure. Dressing them appropriately is one way to accomplish this. For dental procedures, you will want to avoid shirts with buttons and flip-flops. Instead, dress them in comfortable pants, closed toed and flat shoes, and a loose-fitting shirt. You may want to bring extra clothes as well. Another way to keep them comfortable is to bring their favorite blanket and/or stuffed toy. This will give them something familiar to hold onto as a distraction during the procedure and will reduce their anxiety.

After sedation, you will want to be present when your child comes out of sedation. Dr. Atabaki will have you wait in the office until the sedation wears off and it is safe to take your child home. While most of the sedation should wear off at the office, your child will most likely experience lingering drowsiness for the remainder of the day. You will want to keep a close eye on them throughout the day since sedation can make them clumsy and possibly nauseous. It is also important to encourage them to drink water to flush out the remaining sedation.

All of us have seen a child cry in fear when they lose their first tooth. And if we have not, then we must remember our own time when we were afraid we would look like our grandparents without teeth. What a relief it was when we were assured it is an absolutely natural process. Few parents really know, however, how significant this whole development is. A little understanding of the underlying dental science behind it may help their child tremendously. Let’s see how it happens and why primary teeth so important.

To put it simply, teeth help your child eat. The process of chewing is a part of our natural reflexes. A child may need encouragement to chew more by their parents, but no one needs to teach them how to bites into the food, and then how to grind the food in their mount. All of this apparently is a part of our natural reactions much like sucking on the breasts or our mothers and breathing. Initial teeth provide the children the exercise they need with this practice for the strengthening of the muscles in the mouth that will stay with them for the rest of their adult life and is facilitated by the milk teeth they have. Children learn to use their teeth at the early stages of life, but why do milk teeth fall out after all?

During the early stages of the physical development of the human body, the jaw bones, and the related muscles develop according to the lifestyle the child is living. For example, other than the regular baby food, eating a little fleshier food – like a small piece of apple once in a while – may help them practice the act of chewing. This little bit of chewing helps the muscles connected to the jaw bones that are involved with the chewing get the required exercise and strengthen. Primary teeth are an important part of this. At this stage, however, the jaw is too small and weak to support the roots of the comparatively bulkier and stronger permanent teeth, and hence nature’s genius solution is baby teeth. They are small and act precisely like permanent teeth but only till enough room and strength are available for permanent teeth to take their place.

Once the jaw is strong enough, the roots of the baby teeth naturally start dissolving and each tooth starts to lose one by one. That is why there is no pain or inconvenience when it falls out.

The initial teeth hold the space for the permanent teeth and make sure your child develops a proper set later on. These primary teeth also guide the permanent teeth in the right direction.

Many parents believe that that since the child is going to eat only pulpy, and soft food for the first few years of life, milk teeth may not be playing any important roles in the initial stages of their child’s development. However, this understanding is far from reality.

When a child gets orthodontic care will depend a lot of what the condition of their teeth is. Children should start regularly seeing a dentist as soon as they get their first tooth. They should then see the dentist twice a year every year after that. With that in mind, regular visits will ensure your child is being monitored. Any changes that require orthodontic care will be caught and addressed in a timely manner because of this.

If children don’t have braces yet, we might suggest the use of orthodontic appliances that help to get teeth to a place where, once all have come in, they can be fit for braces. When we use this approach to orthodontics, the latter phase that includes braces is much shorter than the initial phase. It can also prove to be more affordable for the family.

Why can’t we just get braces?

Children under 10 years old aren’t always a candidate for braces. This is particularly applicable to children who have an overbite. This is caused when new teeth will still grow over the lower jaw. An overbite can be corrected around 12 years of age.

Common signs a child might need braces include:

  • unnatural tooth loss that has occurred too early or too late
  • crowded teeth
  • difficulties biting or chewing

Why does my child need braces?

Children need braces for a variety of reasons. Some might be because of genetics, while others could be the result of an accident. Common reasons for needing braces include:

  • thumb sucking
  • poor nutrition
  • tooth decay

At OC Kids Dental, we offer a variety of options available to children in need of orthodontic care. This includes traditional steel braces and plastic braces.

We also offer retainers, Invisalign (great for fixing small problems), and palate expanders to help make room for orthodontic treament to be successful.

If you believe your child might need braces, give us a call. We’d be happy to talk through available options and discuss whether your child is at the right age to even be considered for orthodontic treatment.

We understand that orthodontic treatment can be expensive, that’s why we accept a range of insurances and offer helpful payment options like Care Credit. Through Care Credit you can easily finance your child’s dental care and make easy, affordable payments. We know that your child is your number one priority, which is why we are proud to help our patients find the best option for their needs.

There’s been an ongoing conversation in the scientific and health community regarding the nature of sugar, with many claiming that a substance that is found in almost everything is nearly as addictive as cocaine. Whether or not this is true has been in hot debate, but what is known is that sugar is a major contributor to dental issues like cavity, plaque, tartar, and gum disease. But is it also an addictive substance?

What Defines An Addictive Substance?
The best place to start answering that question is by defining what makes a substance ‘addictive’. According to the DSM 5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, defines an addictive substance as one that causes craving, that continues to be used in spite of unpleasant consequences, is difficult to stop using, that we can develop a tolerance to, and yet leaves to withdrawals when we cease using it. Does all of that apply to sugar?

Sweet Temptations
Within the brain dopamine is a vital substance, one that helps direct us towards those things we like and that provides us with a sense of reward when we get them. This system begins to fire when we even anticipate positive feelings. Cakes, candies, sugary drinks, chocolate, and in fact all things that contain sugar can fire off our dopamine system at the mere thought of having them. Sugar can be found in some unexpected places as well, including chips, crackers, and bread.

Increasing Tolerance
The more our system gets activated by sugar, the less it responds to it. This doesn’t cease the craving, mind you, instead it makes us crave the substance even more so we can experience that feeling of reward. What does this mean? A constantly rising need for sugar to get the same positive feeling we received with less. Clearly sugar meets the requirements of a substance we can gain a tolerance to.

Surely this substance that we use every day doesn’t also cause withdrawal, does it? It actually appears that if we were to cut off our supply of sugar “cold-turkey”, we clearly start experiencing withdrawals. Reduced energy levels, depression, cravings, even agitation caused by the presence of what we crave and our inability to use it.

Negative Effects
As we mentioned above, there are decidedly negative consequences to consuming sugar, especially in large quantities. The consumption of sugar leads to obesity, tooth decay, diabetes, just to name a few of the negative consequences. Yet we still continue to consume it in unhealthy quantities in spite of this.

So Should I Quit Sugar?
We won’t tell you that you should avoid eating sugar entirely, most of us simply wouldn’t be able to achieve that goal, or truly desire to. Reducing your sugar consumption, however, can aid not just in good dental health, but in good overall health. By limiting how much sugar you consume you can slow damage to your teeth, reduce acne, aid in the loss of unwanted weight, and even help you sleep better and experience overall better moods. With benefits like that, we could all benefit from a little less sugar in our diet.

So we have a terrible secret for you, something that you should probably have divined on your own but have likely never given a passing thought. This secret? The number of germs that live on your toothbrush regardless of how careful you are about maintaining it. The number? There are more bacteria on your toothbrush than there are people in New York City, an entire megametropolis of germs living there every day.

Relax, they aren’t that much of a threat to your teeth, and your toothpaste is designed to eliminate germs so you’re at constant warfare with them. It is important, however, to make sure your toothbrush dries out between brushings, and every 3-6 months it needs to simply be replaced. In part because wear and tear creates new places for germ to hide, and in part because that same wear and tear reduces the effectiveness of your toothbrush.

When To Replace Your Toothbrush

The ADA, the American Dental Association, emphasizes that replacing your toothbrush every 3 months is ideal, in some cases the toothbrush may last as long as 6 months. What determines the perfect time? Two things, the ferocity of the brusher and the quality of the toothbrush. Those with a heavy hand are going to find that their toothbrushes wear out much faster than those who are gentler with their toothbrush. Of course, the counter-argument is that a more vigorous brushing tends to be more effective, so maybe the increased replacement time is worth it.

The other has to do with the quality of the toothbrush, higher quality toothbrushes are made with more extensive testing of the materials and design, and of course, use better quality materials that simply last longer under the strain. Our personal favorites are those that have colored bristles that let you know when it’s time to replace them with a clear visual indicator, it just doesn’t get easier than your brush telling you when it’s time.

Simple Reminders Make Life Easier

The simple fact of the matter is you should be replacing your toothbrushes on a regular schedule, preferably every 3-6 months for maximum effectiveness. Obviously, the aforementioned colored bristles will let you know without fail, but the easiest way and the simplest reminder is to just pick up a new toothbrush every time you see your dentist for a check-up as a bare minimum. It would be kind of impossible to forget this little combination “See Dentist? Get Toothbrush.”

However, if you’re looking to be truly on top of things, set yourself an appointment on your calendar to replace your toothbrush at the halfway point between appointments. A 3-month rotation of replacing your toothbrush will ensure that you have fresh, effective toothbrushes throughout the year. Want to make sure that you’re really making the most of your brushing? Take the time and money to invest in an electric toothbrush, they’re far more effective than a manual toothbrush and come with easily replaced heads. Why replace the whole thing when you only have to replace the tip?

Replace Your Toothbrush… It’s as simple as that.

The whole point of this article can be refined down to one point: Replace your toothbrush. Replacing your toothbrush is an important part of making sure your teeth serve you for the duration of your life. Isn’t a great smile worth it?


Amalgam fillings are the most recognizable fillings out. They’re commonly referred to as silver fillings, although they’re a combination of mercury, tin, silver, and copper. About 50 percent of the mixture is mercury because it helps to create a strong, durable filling that binds well with the other metals. Mercury has proven to be the only element that binds the elements together in a way that makes it easy to fill a tooth cavity.

Is the mercury in an amalgam filling safe?

The mercury in a dental filling is safe. When it is combined with the other metals during the amalgamation process its chemical makeup changes and renders it essentially harmless. Even when a patient is chewing the amount of mercury released is so miniscule it causes no reason for concern. A patient is exposed to more mercury in food, air, and water.

Studies have shown that amalgam fillings are not harmful and that any diseases related to mercury in fillings are based on random claims, not scientific evidence.

Why would a dentist use amalgam fillings?

Amalgam filling shave been used for over 150 fifty years and have been proven to be some of the safest, most affordable, and most durable solutions to filling a cavity. Current estimates believe there are over 1 billion amalgam fillings placed every year.

Dentists prefer this solution because it is easy to work with, safe, can be quickly placed in a cavity, and is affordable for patients.

Why wouldn’t a dentist use an alternative to amalgams?

The dentist will choose the best option for the patient. This means that if a patient can afford a composite filling and wants one, the dentist will use this option (as long as there isn’t a medical reason not to). Filling materials like gold and porcelain are often quite expensive and can require two visits to complete. Additionally, porcelain and composite fillings are not as durable as amalgam fillings. The only material that is as strong as an amalgam is gold.

How do you treat a patient that is allergic to mercury?

Mercury allergies are quite uncommon and impact less than a percent of the population. If a person is thought to have an allergy to mercury, they should undergo testing and, if they test positive, be treated with an alternative filling material.

I have an amalgam filling, should I have it removed?

No. Amalgam fillings have not proven to be dangerous in the least. In fact, the process of removing and replacing the filling would cause unnecessary discomfort to patients as well as additional expense and increase the risk of further damaging the tooth.

Does working as a dentist expose a person to mercury?

The mercury used in amalgam fillings is contained in a premixed capsule, which greatly reduces the probability of a mercury spill. Additionally, today’s mixture contains the least amount of mercury possible, so exposure is unlikely to cause harm.

Mercury in the food you consume, air you breath, and water you drink is likely to be at a higher level that what you would find in a dental lab.

Picking the right toothbrush can be a difficult choice, and many dental patients simply rely on the sample they’re provided by their dentist after their 6-month check up, or just pick up a cheap option from the local grocery store. Most patients don’t know that not all toothbrushes are the same and that picking the right one is vital to ongoing dental health, let alone that there are some decidedly important reasons to pick up an electric toothbrush.

Let’s face it, any oral care regimen is better than none at all, and the same holds true for using a manual toothbrush over an electric. Most dentists want their patients to make the change to an electric toothbrush, these fantastic devices ensure that the patient will get the best care for their teeth and maximize the reduction in cavities and the development of gingivitis.

It’s immediately evident to dentists when their patients use electric toothbrushes, the amount of work that’s necessary during their appointments is noticeably reduced and the patient’s oral health unquestionably improved. The benefits are also immediately clear to the patient, once they start using it. If your dentist has been pressing you to give electrics a try, we encourage you to take heed, you won’t be disappointed in the results.

Why Electrics Are Better

We’ve all done it, the slipshod brushing of teeth that happens in a hurry when the nightly habit of brushing your teeth becomes a cursory cleaning at best. For some people, this occasional rush job is simply how they brush their teeth. Electric toothbrushes help to make the most of the time they do spend brushing their teeth, removing more plaque and tartar with less time, meaning even a cursory job of brushing their teeth will lead to less inflammation, dental sensitivity, and chances of gingivitis.

Parents, in particular, are going to want to make sure their children are using electric toothbrushes, especially those parents who spend a lot of money on orthodontic work. There’s nothing worse than investing in a solid set of braces to help straighten out a child’s smile, only to have poor brushing habits result in cavities and those teeth decaying instead of improving.

Great For The Physically Impaired

There’s a lot of cases where proper dental care is difficult because of certain disabilities or simply the loss of dexterity from old age. For some of these patients, it’s simply impossible for them to move their hands or arms in a way that affects proper dental hygiene. For these patients, electric toothbrushes are the perfect solution. Even without perfect manual dexterity, an electric toothbrush will be able to effectively remove plaque, cleanse the teeth, and minimize the development of gum disease.

The choices you make when investing in the tools of oral care matter, and an electric toothbrush brings so many benefits to the table there’s simply no reason not to get one. If you’re wondering if an electric toothbrush is right for you, consult with your dentist, or just give them a try. You’ll never look back.

Mouthguards play an incredibly important part in protecting your child’s teeth, lips, and gums from damage. They’re a must if your child plays sports. Whether basketball, football, soccer, and even swimming, mouthguards can drastically reduce the probability of injuries occurring.

Without a mouthguard, common injuries include fractured teeth, missing teeth, and broken teeth. This not only affects a child’s self-esteem, it also impacts their quality of life, including how they eat and speak.

Additionally, treating broken teeth or missing teeth is expensive. A mouthguard could save you a lot of money by preventing these injuries. Any child that is going to be playing sports should wear a mouthguard, even those who still have their primary teeth.

What is a mouthguard?

Mouthguards are custom made plastic guards that fit into a child’s mouth. They’re different than the guards found at sporting goods stores because they are molded to fit your child’s oral anatomy. This means the teeth, arches, gums, and lips are all more protected from injury.

Even if your child is playing a sport that is considered non-contact, it’s important to protect them with a mouthguard. For example, let’s say your child is a gymnast. She is working on the balance beam but does not have a mouthguard in. If she falls and hits her chin, she could crack her teeth, puncture her lips, and cause serious damage.

A mouthguard will help reduce damage done and ensure she can get back to doing what she loves, instead of having to spend hours at the dentist getting patched up.

How do I get a mouthguard?

Getting fitted with a mouthguard is a two step process. First, you’ll want to come into the office for an exam. During this exam, the doctor will ensure your child’s teeth are in good shape. Once he or she is cleared for a mouthguard, the doctor will take an impression of your child’s mouth. This is what provides the custom fit.

These impressions are sent off to a lab, which will then create the mouthguard. After we receive the mouthguard you’ll come in for a fitting. If the guard doesn’t fit we will modify it chairside.

Caring for a Mouthguard

Your mouthguard is pretty easy to care for and will last for years if properly taken care of. By caring for your guard you will reduce bacterial build up and odors, and also keep the plastic from breaking down.
Never chew on your mouthguard. This can cause micro fractures that decrease its ability to protect your mouth.

Finally, after each use of your mouthguard brush it with toothpaste and let it air dry on a clean washcloth. Never let it sit in water and always make sure to visit the dentist regularly. He can ensure your mouth is being adequately protected. If he notices any issues he can help put together a treatment plan that will meet your needs and improve your oral health over time. Contact us to schedule an appointment and learn more about the importance of mouthguards.


Sleep apnea is a disorder that is most commonly associated with adults, particularly those who are overweight or have nasal obstructions that make breathing difficult. But obstructive sleep apnea is an issue that can plague children as well. And while it’s awful for adults, children lose out quite a bit due to the fact that they need even more sleep than adults.

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is caused by a mechanical problem within the mouth. While a child is sleeping their tongue will fall back against their soft palate and block their airway. While this condition is most commonly associated with those who are obese or older and male, children can also suffer from it.

It is thought that sleep apnea might be caused by a neurological phenomenon in which the brain does not properly signal the tongue and throat muscles. Whatever the cause, sleep apnea can cause major issues for children.

What are the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea?

OSA is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness. When a person wakes up regularly throughout the night, their sleep patterns are interrupted and they don’t get the sleep they need to function. Individuals who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea typically snore very loudly and will often awake in the middle of the night gasping for air.

Because of the lack of sleep, OSA sufferers can become moody, irritable, and depressed. And who wouldn’t if they weren’t getting the sleep they need?

The side effects of OSA can be particularly troubling for children as they find themselves having a hard time concentrating in class, maintaining friendships, and simply staying awake.

Should I take my child to the doctor?

Yes. If you notice any of the above symptoms in your child then it’s highly advisable that you take your child in for a check-up. The doctor may recommend a sleep study to understand your child’s sleep habits.

A sleep study requires an overnight stay in a sleep lab where technicians perform tests that are then evaluated by a physician.

While it might seem cute that your child is snoring, it could in fact be a sign of a bigger issue. In fact, snoring is one of the most common signs of sleep apnea and should be brought up to your child’s doctor if it is something you notice.

What are the complications associated with OSA?

The most common complication associated with obstructive sleep apnea is poor performance in school. Children with OSA have a hard time focusing and as a result tend to fall behind in their studies. Additionally, children with OSA might suffer from behavioral issues that are a direct result of sleep deprivation.

Eye problems are another common issue caused by OSA. This is likely because they eye’s are not getting the rest they need to be able to focus during the day. Treatment like visual therapy can help reverse the damage done and recovery from eye damage is typically possible.

Long-term OSA can result in cardiovascular issues due to the increase in blood pressure levels, which ultimately strains the cardiovascular system.

Thumb sucking and pacifiers provide natural relaxation and soothing to babies. Children actual begin sucking their thumbs in their wombs. These techniques make them feel content and secure while they learn about the big world around them. Although totally natural and normal, thumb sucking and pacifier use can become problematic when it becomes a habit.

Advantages of Thumb Sucking

In addition to calming your baby, thumb sucking also allows your baby to practice the natural sucking motion needed to latch onto a breast when breastfeeding. This is quite different when compared to pacifiers, which studies have shown can lead to early weaning. Thumb sucking also can help children build immunity to allergens like dust mites.

Advantages of Pacifier Use

Pacifiers have been shown to help reduce the incidences of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). They also can help soothe a fussy baby, provide entertainment, and help the baby to fall asleep. Pacifiers are also easier to keep clean and can be sanitized by being run through the dishwasher or dropped in boiling water. Many are made from materials that are antimicrobial.

When is thumb sucking and pacifier use a problem?

Thumb sucking and pacifier user becomes problematic when a child sucks intensely from ages 4-6. Children tend to naturally wean themselves from thumb sucking and pacifier use around age 3. When this doesn’t occur, many problem can pop up. This is because the jaw is developing quite rapidly and the intense sucking action can disrupt jaw formation, tooth alignment, and even cause speech problems.

Help Break the Habit

Weaning a child from a pacifier can be done by slowly eliminating it from their routine. If, for example, your child is used to have the pacifier at all time, start by taking it away for a couple of hours. As you work your way down you’ll then transition to giving them the pacifier at bedtime and nap time. Now, depending on your child’s personality cold turkey might be best. Talk to their doctor to discuss what might be the best choice.

Breaking the thumb sucking habit is a little more difficult, because the child is physically attached to the item that soothes them. Most experts agree that breaking a child’s thumb sucking is best done by giving them comfort and attention. After all, thumb sucking is a child’s own way of soothing and comforting themselves. If they already feel comfortable and secure, getting them to break the habit could be a little easier.

If you have questions about pacifier use or thumb sucking, contact us. We can answer your questions, help establish a plan to break the habit for your child, and check your child’s mouth to check if any damage has been done.

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