Here, we provide answers to common questions about pediatric dental care, helping you stay informed and confident in managing your child’s oral health.

General FAQs

What can I expect during my child’s first dental visit?

Your child’s first visit is designed to be a fun and positive experience. We’ll give a gentle exam to check their teeth and gums, provide a professional cleaning, and offer tips for at-home care. Our team is dedicated to making your child feel comfortable and excited about dental health. Visit our First Visit page for more information to put your mind at ease, including new patient forms.

At what age should my child start brushing their own teeth?

Children can start brushing their own teeth with supervision around the age of 6 or 7. It’s important for parents to ensure that children are brushing thoroughly and using the correct amount of toothpaste. Download our FREE brushing calendar for help here.

What should I do if my child is anxious about visiting the dentist?

Our team is experienced in helping children feel comfortable and at ease during their dental visits. We use a friendly, patient approach and offer a child-centric environment to reduce anxiety. Let us know about any specific concerns, and we’ll work with you to make the visit as stress-free as possible.

How can I help my child develop good oral hygiene habits?

Encourage your child to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily. Make brushing fun with games, songs, and rewards. Regular dental visits also reinforce the importance of good oral hygiene. Head to our education page for more resources!

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

In case of a dental emergency, such as a knocked-out tooth, severe toothache, or dental injury, contact our office immediately at (970) 407-1020. We provide prompt care to address emergencies and alleviate your child’s discomfort.

Does Big Grins accept my insurance?

We accept most major dental insurance plans, including Delta Dental, Metlife, United Healthcare, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, and Cigna. For specific questions about your plan, please contact our office.

How can I make a payment for my child’s dental care?

Payments can be made using CareCredit®, credit cards, checks, or cash. For more information or assistance with payments, feel free to call our office at (970) 407-1020.

Little Grins Infant Care

What Is Infant Dental Care?

Infant dental care begins with establishing a “Dental Home” for your child, where you can receive expert guidance, anticipatory advice, and emergency services related to your child’s oral health. Our pediatric dentists are here to address all your questions and concerns about your baby’s dental development, feeding habits, oral anatomy, and more.

What are the Benefits of Infant Dental Care?

Taking your child to the dentist from an early age offers numerous benefits:

  • Establishes a positive relationship with the dentist
  • Helps your child become comfortable with dental exams
  • Allows early detection of dental issues
  • Provides guidance on oral hygiene practices
  • Offers peace of mind for parents

How do lip and tongue ties affect my child?

Lip and tongue ties can cause difficulties with breastfeeding, bottle feeding, and later, with speech development and dental hygiene. They might also contribute to issues like tooth decay and gum problems due to limited oral mobility.

What are the symptoms of lip and tongue ties?

Common symptoms include difficulty latching during breastfeeding, prolonged feeding times, irritability during feeding, poor weight gain, and, as the child grows older, speech delays or difficulties, and dental issues such as cavities and gum inflammation.

Is the lip and tongue tie procedure safe for my child?

Yes, a frenectomy is a common and generally safe procedure. It is typically performed in a pediatric dental office or a specialist clinic and has a quick recovery time. Your child’s dentist will provide you with detailed post-procedure care instructions to ensure a smooth recovery.

What can I expect after the lip and tongue tie procedure?

After a frenectomy, your child may experience mild discomfort and swelling, which can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers. Improvements in feeding or speech are often noticed quickly. Your dentist will give you specific aftercare instructions, including exercises to help your child adjust to their increased range of motion.

Preventative Dentistry

When Should I Schedule My Child’s First Pediatric Dental Cleanings?

We recommend bringing your child for their first dental visit as soon as their first tooth emerges or by their first birthday, whichever comes first. Regular dental cleanings every six months are typically recommended to maintain your child’s oral health and address any emerging issues promptly.

How Often Should Your Child See the Dentist?

Bring your child to the pediatric dentist for the first time when their first teeth erupt from their gums, or by age one – whichever comes first. Your pediatric dentist will let you know when to bring your child back and will help you establish a consistent dental cleaning routine.

How often your child sees the dentist may depend on their oral health and any dental problems they may be facing. Find out from your child’s dentist when your child should come back for their next dental cleaning in Fort Collins, CO.

What Can You Do To Care For Your Child’s Teeth?

The best thing you can do to care for your child’s teeth at home is to establish a regular cleaning schedule – every morning, and every evening. Even babies benefit from having their teeth (or tooth!) cleaned! The more time you spend showing your child how to brush their teeth, the better they’ll be at it. Ask your child’s dentist to show you how to clean your child’s teeth. A child can usually independently brush their teeth at age eight, but still require supervision and high expectations from the parent.

What Are the Benefits of Getting Dental Cleanings Early?

Take your child to the dentist in Fort Collins CO from an early age. Doing this shows your child that going to the dentist isn’t scary. Your child gets more used to the dentist with every visit. Starting dental cleanings from an early age also shows your child that seeing the dentist is important!

What Are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are a quick treatment designed to protect areas of the teeth that are most cavity-prone in children. Even though regular brushing is a major factor in protecting your child’s teeth, toothbrushes don’t reach everything. Dental sealants are applied to chewing surfaces, usually on the back teeth, to cover ridges, grooves, and dips where plaque often accumulates. The plastic resin material bonds to the surface of the tooth to protect the enamel from plaque and acids in food.

What are the Benefits of Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are one of the simplest treatments provided by a pediatric dentist. The application process is quick, painless, and simple, but the level of protection for the tooth is profound. Once in place, the sealants offer protection against about 80 percent of cavities and will offer that protection for as long as two years. Even after two years, the protective barrier may offer 50 percent protection for about four years.

Another important benefit of dental sealants for children is the fact that they can protect them from more invasive treatments later on. More invasive treatments can be both unsettling for the child and expensive for the parent. Because a child’s teeth are protected from decay, it is less likely they will have to deal with something like a filling, root canal, or extraction later.

Are Digital Dental X-Rays Safe for Kids?

Yes, digital dental X-rays are very safe for use on kids. In fact, digital dental X-rays produce up to 90% less radiation than traditional X-rays do. Pediatric dentists and dental surgeons use digital dental X-rays to plan your child’s dental treatments, oral surgery procedures, and orthodontic care.

How Do Digital Dental X-Rays Differ from Traditional Dental X-Rays?

Traditional X-rays use a film to capture the images of your child’s teeth. Additionally, they take longer to develop and are harder to read due to being lower-quality images. Traditional dental X-rays also must be scanned into a computer, unlike digital dental X-rays.

Digital dental X-rays have similar technological benefits and work like a digital camera. Digital dental X-rays in Fort Collins, CO provide higher quality images of your child’s teeth and they are instant, meaning they don’t have to be developed like traditional dental X-rays. Additionally, digital dental X-rays can be edited and entered into a computer similar to how any other digital picture is sent, edited, and saved.

Restorative Dentistry

What Are the Benefits of Cosmetic Dental Crowns?

A crown on a baby tooth is only recommended when the tooth does not have enough structure to hold a filling such as when the tooth is badly decayed or broken. The vast majority of children can receive a filling for small cavities and avoid the crown! For those teeth that require crowns, the child is young enough to need that tooth for a few years, and parents object to stainless steel crowns, the zirconium Cosmetic Dental Crown is the way to go!

If your child has one or more damaged, permanent teeth, cosmetic dental crowns are good solutions. Call Big Grins Pediatric Dentistry in Fort Collins, CO, today for more information. One of our friendly and knowledgeable associates is always waiting to take your call and to answer any questions you may have regarding the placement of cosmetic dental crowns.

What Is the Procedure to Place a Dental Crown?

Crowns can be placed in the office by our Pediatric Dentists in one visit lasting no more than 40 minutes. Usually the child receives Nitrous Oxide to hide the injection and make time fly by. The kids get immediate function and can show off their cosmetic dental crowns when back at school. Unlike adult crowns, the dentist makes the tooth fit the crown. If a baby root canal is required, that can be done at the same appointment. Some children’s dentists require a child to be under General Anesthesia for this procedure, but all dentists are not created equal! Dr. Greg and Dr. Rachel can help advise you if a crown is an option for your child, then accomplish what they recommend in an affordable way!

Why Choose Sedation Dentistry?

Many children feel anxious or nervous when it’s time to visit the dentist. Sedation dentistry can help ease these fears, ensuring your child has a positive experience. We also recommend sedation dentistry for children who:

  • Have high levels of dental anxiety or fear
  • Need a lot of dental work done
  • Have a strong gag reflex
  • Cannot sit still for long periods

What Should Parents Expect When Their Child Receives Nitrous Oxide?

After a patient has settled into the dental chair, we place a plastic shield on the face that contains nitrous oxide underneath it. A dentist or dental assistant then instructs the child to take a few deep breaths to introduce the nitrous oxide into the body.

Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a sedative agent that quickly travels to the brain. The medication stops being effective as soon as one of our staff members removes the patient’s mask. Nitrous oxide does not put patients to sleep, but they will feel a bit groggy and relaxed. However, patients remain aware of their surroundings and can respond to our questions and requests.

Nitrous oxide has been a primary tool in pediatric dentistry for decades due to its ease of use and lack of side effects. Dr. Ecker and Dr. Evans each have extensive training and experience using nitrous oxide during dental procedures. Children remain under the constant supervision of our staff from the time they put on the mask containing nitrous oxide until after someone removes it.

Hospital Dentistry

What Is Hospital Dentistry?

Hospital Dentistry should be thought of as a treatment of last resort for the dental needs of children. The vast majority of kids can be treated in an office setting with plenty of TLC, modern medicines and techniques. The benefits of in-office treatment are cost, conservative treatment, confidence building for children and less time out of school and work. Since hospitals work on block time, hospital dentistry may delay treatment which could result in more work.

When Is Hospital Dentistry Needed?

Hospital dentistry is for kids who need long and extensive dental procedures that require general anesthesia. The anesthesia will enable the dentist to perform the necessary treatment while your child is sleeping. It will also help with pain management and muscle relaxation, making your child more comfortable.

Hospital dentistry is also sometimes used with kids who have behavioral issues when presented in a normal dental office setting.

How Can I Help Keep My Child from Fearing the Hospital Dental Procedure?

A hospital is a scary place for kids and adults, for that matter. However, you should be prepared to be at the hospital with your child prior to their dental procedure. Your presence will help keep them calm, reduce their anxiety, and make them feel safe and secure.

You should also bring a comfort item with them to the surgery. A stuffed animal, security blanket, or anything else that generally helps keep your child calm. Additionally, you should hold your child’s hand and gently talk to them as he or she is being put under anesthesia.

Prior to the general anesthesia, your child might be given a mild sedative to make them feel more relaxed. The anesthesiologist will go over this with you prior to the procedure after they have reviewed your child’s temperament and medical history. The sedative won’t be given if the dentist and anesthesiologist don’t feel it’s necessary.

What Are the Benefits of Getting a Second Opinion?

Although there are times that patients accept what their dentist recommends without question, there are many benefits of getting a second opinion.

  • Prevent a mistaken diagnosis
  • Find a simpler solution to the potential problem
  • Avoid spending money on a treatment that is not needed
  • Avoid putting your child through a procedure that could cause them anxiety

Getting a second opinion can also help you find a dental professional that you trust and like! At Big Grins, we help children get a second opinion for their dental conditions, and sometimes they choose to transfer their care to us.

Why Do Many Children Come to Big Grins for Referral Care?

Big Grins only works with children, which means that our entire practice is built around knowing the very specific needs of children and keeping them comfortable. From our lobby, where children can play and get comfortable, to pediatric dental professionals, we provide everything that children need to feel at home when cleaning or examining their teeth.

Specialized & Emergency Dental Care

What Should You Do During a Dental Emergency?

During a dental emergency, deciding what to do first, second, third, and so on can be hard. Start by getting help from the dentist. Call (970) 407-1020.

If your child has just lost a permanent tooth: hold the tooth by the crown (not by the root), then wash it off with saliva, sterile saline solution, or milk. If your child can, have them put the tooth back in the hole where it came from. If your child is unable to do this, the safest place to put the tooth is in their cheek. Call the dentist as soon as possible, and get your child to the dentist within 20 minutes or less. Your child’s dentist may be able to save the tooth!

What Is Soft Tissue Mouth Trauma?

Soft tissue mouth trauma is when any of the soft tissues in your child’s mouth are injured. The soft tissues include the lips, gums, tongue, hard palate, cheeks, and the floor of the mouth. These soft tissues are made up of blood vessels, so when they are injured, they bleed easily and excessively.

Why Should You Visit Your Pediatric Dentist for Sports & Mouth Guards for Your Child?

If you have looked at mouthguards available in many stores that are one-size-fits-all, note that these will not begin to offer your child the protection they need when playing sports. For maximum protection, you should visit your pediatric dentist to customize the guard for your child’s mouth. By making an impression on your child’s mouth, the pediatric dentist can have the mouth guard made to offer the best fit and comfort.

How Does a Mouth Guard Protect Your Child’s Teeth?

When your child wears a sports mouth guard, it will protect not only their teeth but also other areas of the mouth. Most sports mouthguards will cover only the top teeth, but some athletes wear a lower guard if they have braces on their teeth. The most common injuries that occur when not wearing a sports mouth guard are broken or chipped teeth, but if your child does wear braces, a lower guard will also keep your child’s gums, tongue, and cheeks from being injured.

Special Needs Dentistry

Why Do Children with Special Needs Often Need Additional Dental Care?

Children with special needs or certain disabilities are more likely to suffer from decay than other children. Several factors make this statement true. For example, children with developmental disabilities may not follow good daily oral hygiene habits. Likewise, a child with a certain medical condition may take a medicine that is hard on their teeth because it makes their mouth dry. For these reasons, your child with special needs may need a few more visits to the dentist than usual.

What Are Some Common Oral Health Concerns for Children with Special Needs?

Unfortunately, because children with special needs often have pressing health issues and other things to be addressed, taking care of oral health can be one of the last things on the list. Yet, oral health care is so important for the overall health of the child. Children with special needs may also have specific oral health conditions to be concerned about, such as:

  • Bruxism (grinding the teeth)
  • Malformed teeth
  • Congenitally missing teeth
  • Tooth crowding or misalignment
  • Delayed tooth eruption
  • Gum disease

Why Do We Set Aside a Time-Block of Extra Time for Our Special Needs Dental Services?

Creating a set-aside block in our schedule every day allows our team to address care and patient concerns at a slower pace. These children may need a few extra steps in the treatment process, as well as a little more time and patience to work through treatments. However, this also ensures parents get discreet care for their child and get the opportunity to ask questions or get advice about oral health.