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Frequently Asked Questions

Dental fear is a common challenge for many patients. It can be associated with previous bad experiences at the dentist, but more often, it is a fear of the ‘unknown’ aspects of dental procedures that can sometimes cause patients to be afraid.

We know that this is a real (vs. imagined) problem for a dental patient; the body's physiological response to fear is ‘fight or flight’ – the reason fearful patients often avoid the dentist altogether. Of course, logic tells us that this is not a good plan, but fear can be a very powerful thing!

We recommend that patients who experience dental anxiety begin with a conversation with Dr. Whitaker. By sharing your fears and concerns, Dr. Whitaker can help you with a plan to get the dental care you need, in complete comfort. A big first step to alleviating your fear is getting to know your dentist and developing a trusting relationship. We can then walk you through the steps of your care at your pace, with no surprises. A comfortable patient is a happy patient!

In short, yes! Children develop their first set of teeth (deciduous teeth) beginning at 6-8 months of age through age 11-12. These primary teeth hold the space for the permanent tooth and support the jaw and facial muscles during the developmental stages of the child's growth. They also allow the child to speak and chew normally while the permanent teeth fully develop.

Permanent teeth begin to erupt around age 6, causing the baby teeth to become loose and fall out as they are replaced. Premature loss of baby teeth can lead to problems with permanent teeth, including tooth misalignment and tooth decay caused by destructive bacteria in the mouth.

It is important to take good care of baby teeth up to the time they are lost, so they can serve their important function. We recommend that parents help their children brush their teeth until they develop adequate manual dexterity to do a good job. Try making the experience special by playing a fun song or a video and having the child brush their teeth first, with you following after (“now Mommy/Daddy”). A positive outlook on dental health will help your child develop a lifetime of good habits.

View the American Dental Association® Tooth Eruption Chart to learn more about your child's oral health.

Every tooth has 5 surfaces – front, back, top and 2 sides in-between. Only 3 of them are accessible to the human eye! Dr. Whitaker uses dental x-rays to help him see between the teeth, and, under the gum line to look for signs of decay, gum disease, infection, abscesses, cysts or tumors and to monitor orthodontic development and third molars in children and teens. The American Dental Association® recommends diagnostic x-rays periodically for children and adults to support a thorough dental health assessment.

Our office is equipped with digital dental x-rays. Using special radiographic technology, we can acquire close up pictures of the teeth and jaw bone in seconds, using less radiation than traditional film exposure. Dr. Whitaker and our dental hygienists can share these images with you on a computer screen to present their findings and recommendations for your oral health.

Visit mouthhealthy.org to learn more about dental x-rays.