Why a Pediatric Dentist?
Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. Our pediatric specialists and staff love children and are specially trained to put them at ease. We have a gentle touch and special way with kids. We teach your children the proper way to take care of their teeth; but just as important, they learn that going to the dentist can be fun.
What is a Pediatric Dentist (Pedodontist)?
In the same way that pediatricians are trained to meet a child’s medical needs, our pediatric dental specialists are uniquely qualified to provide oral care for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs. They use the most advanced techniques…and state-of-the-art equipment. Pediatric dentists have an additional 2-3 years of training at university pediatric facilities in addition to 4 years of dental school and 4 years of college study. They learn how to deal with the behavioral aspects of children, how to make them feel comfortable, and to make the experience pleasant.
What dental problems could my child have?
Some dental problems begin very early in life. One concern is early childhood caries (previously called baby bottle tooth decay), a serious condition caused by a child staying on the bottle (breast, sippy cup) too long. Another problem is gum disease. About 40% of children 2-3 years old have at least mild inflammation of gum tissues (gingivitis). Oral habits (such as thumb-sucking or pacifier habits) should also be addressed. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chances of preventing problems. Strong, healthy teeth help your child chew food easily, speak clearly and feel good about his or her appearance.
Why are baby teeth so important?
Primary teeth are important because they help with proper chewing and eating, help in speech development and add to an attractive appearance. A child who can chew easily, speak clearly and smile confidently is a happier child. Healthy primary teeth allow normal development of the jaw bones and muscles, save space for the permanent teeth and guide them into place. If a baby tooth is lost too soon, permanent teeth may come in crooked or not at all. Decayed baby teeth can cause pain, abscesses, infections, and can spread to the permanent teeth. Also, your child’s general health can be affected if diseased baby teeth aren’t treated. Remember, some primary molars are not replaced until age 10-14, so they must last for years.
What should I tell my child about the first dental visit?
We are asked this question many times. We suggest you prepare your child the same way that you would before their first hair-cut or trip to the shoe store. This will not be the frightening experience you may remember from your youth. If you are nervous about the trip, then the less you say the better. You cannot hide your anxiety from a child (they have radar for these things). Your child’s reaction to his first visit to the dentist may surprise you. We suggest that you casually mention a few days ahead that “we are going to visit the dentist soon”. Then, when the day arrives, mention it again. Please, convey the feeling that dental visits are a part of growing up. Please, don’t offer rewards or indicate in any way that there is anything to fear. We are trained to spend extra time with your child to explain procedures and instruments to them in a way that makes sense for their age and maturity level.
What about preventative care?
Tooth decay and children no longer have to go hand in hand. At our office we are most concerned with all aspects of preventive care. We use the latest in sealant technology to protect your child’s teeth. Sealants are space-age plastics that are bonded to the chewing surfaces of decay prone back teeth. This is just one of the ways we will set the foundation for your child’s lifetime of good oral health.
What about sterilization?
Your health and peace of mind are always our primary concern; therefore, we use state-of-the-art sterilization procedures. After each patient’s visit, the treatment area is thoroughly disinfected. We ultrasonically clean and heat sterilize all non-disposable instruments. Our staff wear gloves and masks during procedures. Please feel free to ask us for information on the measures we take to ensure the safety of you and your children, or a tour of our sterilization area.
How can I prevent decay caused by nursing?
Avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bedtime bottle. Also, learn the proper way to brush and floss your child’s teeth. Always put your child to bed with clean teeth. Take your child to a pediatric dentist regularly to have his/her teeth and gums checked. The first dental visit should be scheduled by your child’s first birthday or within 6 months after the first tooth erupts.
How often does my child need to see the pediatric dentist?
A check-up every six months is recommended in order prevent cavities and other dental problems. However, your pediatric dentist can tell you when and how often your child should visit based on their personal oral health.
How do dental sealants work?
Sealants work by filling in the crevasses on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This prevents food particles and bacteria that causes cavities from getting caught in the teeth. The application is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect teeth for many years.
Toothpaste: when should we begin using it and how much should we use?
Fluoridated toothpaste should be introduced when a child is 2-3 years of age. Prior to that, parents should clean the child’s teeth with water or a non-fluoridated tooth cleanser and a soft-bristled toothbrush. When toothpaste is used after age 3, parents should supervise brushing and make sure the child uses no more than a pea-sized amount on the brush. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.
How do I make my child’s diet safe for his teeth?
Make sure your child has a balanced diet, including one serving each of: fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy products, meat, fish and eggs. Limiting the servings of sugars and starches will also aid in protecting your child’s teeth from decay. Avoid sweetened drinks, like juice and chocolate milk daily. Instead make it a special treat! Offer your child low carbohydrate snacks. You can also ask your pediatric dentist to help you select foods that protect your children’s teeth.
We are embracing the future of dental technology in order to keep your child's visit as seamless as possible.
From the moment they step inside our practice your child's comfort is our number one priority.
We expect the best. We are setting new standards of what it means for your child to visit the dentist.
With 4 locations to conveniently choose from in North Kansas City, Leawood, Country Club Plaza, and Lee's Summit to best serve your dental needs.
As a courtesy to our patients, we submit necessary claim forms, receipts, and other information to your insurance company.
Our welcoming and experienced staff will take care of any questions or concerns you may have during your visit to our practice.
Dr. Donna Thomas was born and raised in the Kansas City area. She attended St. Mary’s high school and Rockhurst College. She received her Doctorate of Dental Surgery in 1992 from University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Dentistry. Following graduation, Dr. Thomas completed a 2-year Pediatric Dental Residency at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha where she also obtained a Masters Degree. Read More...
Dr. Nicole Hawkinson was raised in central Iowa and attended Luther College where she received a degree in biology. She then attended the University of Iowa, College of Dentistry, where she completed her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. Dr. Hawkinson went on to continue her education and received a certificate in Pediatric Dentistry at Strong Memorial Hospital and the University of Rochester, NY. She received extensive training in child psychology, dental trauma, sedation, hospital dentistry and development. Read More...
Dr. Claudia Lopez is originally from Bogotá, Colombia. She graduated first in her class at the El Bosque University of Dentistry. In 1992, she moved to the United States and obtained a certification in Pediatric Dentistry from New York University College of Dentistry. Dr. Lopez completed a DDS certificate and one year of dental research fellowship training at Children’s Mercy Hospital and the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry. Read More...
Dr. Frank Crist attended Park Hill High School where he graduated in 1982. He received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Kansas State University in 1986 and went on to attend the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Dentistry where he received his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) in 1990. Dr. Crist completed a General Practice Residency at the Miami Children’s Hospital in Miami, Florida. Read More...
We are thankful to our amazing patients and parents who acknowledge our excellence and have posted 5-star reviews on Google.
"My daughter loves coming for her appts! Have always had great experiences! She loved Dr. Lopez!!"
"My grandson loves going to the dentist. Dr. Thomas is an awesome dentist, kind and gentle with him when he had to have a tooth fixed."