Children

We love kids!

Dr. Bethel has extensive training in treating children. He even taught at the University of Washington in the children’s specialty clinic. The staff here consists of trained professionals who strive to make each dental visit special. Our goal is to make your child have a fun experience, be comfortable, and educate them about their teeth. Start your child out right with their dental visits. Have them experience what fun going to the dentist can be!

Your child’s visit to our office

To put your child at ease we will take special care to introduce your child to all our procedures and instruments. We will ìtell-show-doî which means we will explain and show your child how our "magic dental chair", "tooth counter", the "tooth tickler" and "special straw" work before using them. We also use visual aids such as drawing animated pictures, and allow them to feel the instruments on their fingers or hands before introducing them to their mouth.

We will also review your child's medical and dental history before examining and clean his or her teeth. We will provide you with information on preventive dental care, make age related recommendations for brushing/flossing, and nutrition so that your child can enjoy a lifetime of healthy teeth.

Before the first visit, you can prepare your child by talking about the visit in a positive way you would with any important new experience. You may be surprised that a visit to the dentist can be a fun and delightful experience.

How do you handle the fearful child?

Our bright, cheerful office environment and experienced staff will help make your child’s visit fun and enjoyable. We encourage your child to watch other children have their x-rays taken, teeth cleaned, and examination completed by the Doctor.

We utilize nitrous oxide, sometimes called "relaxing air," “magic air,” or “laughing gas” for our apprehensive patients. A very safe, odorless gas, it is used to relieve anxiety and calm your child during treatment.
Dr. Bethel has gone to extensive special training  which allows him to administer medications to alleviate dental fears. It will make your child sleepy but not “put them out”.

How does fluoride help my child's teeth?

Cavities were once a fact of life. Now, with fluoride, this has changed dramatically, and it is possible for your child to grow up without cavities. Fluoride is a natural element that is safe and effective when used appropriately. Unfortunately, many people continue to be misinformed about fluoride and fluoridation.
When used correctly, fluoride is very effective in preventing and even reversing the early signs of dental decay. It works in several ways, including making your child's teeth stronger against acid attacks, repairing damaged tooth structure, and affecting the actual bacteria that cause cavities.

Fluoride is obtained in two forms: topical and systemic
At our dental office during a cleaning and everyday at home while brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste, fluoride is topically applied to your child's teeth. This makes your child's teeth stronger and more cavity resistant by strengthening the enamel surface. Toothpastes, fluoride rinses, and in-office applications all work together to prevent dental disease.

Systemic fluoride works at the cellular level. As your child is growing, tablets or droplets can be used to incorporate fluoride into the tooth structure. Taken as a tablet, or in water, fluoride makes the crystals of your child's teeth grow stronger.

The most important thing regarding fluoride treatment is the proper dosage!
Too little fluoride will not be able to help your child's teeth become cavity resistant. On the other hand, too much fluoride in preschool children can lead to dental fluorosis, discoloration and damage to your child's teeth, during development. In this situation, your child's permanent teeth will have a chalky white to brown appearance.

Many children often get more fluoride than their parents realize. Being aware of your child's potential sources of fluoride can help you prevent the possibility of dental fluorosis. Some of these sources of fluoride are:

  • too much fluoridated toothpaste at an early age
  • the inappropriate use of fluoride supplements
  • school fluoridation programs
  • hidden sources of fluoride in your child's diet such as fruit juices and infant formulas

To decrease the risk of dental fluorosis, the following steps can be taken:

  • use baby cleanser (toothpaste without fluoride) for infants and very young children up to age 2 place only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the brush
  • account for all of the sources of ingested fluoride before requesting fluoride supplements from your child's pediatrician or pediatric dentist
  • obtain fluoride-level test results for your home drinking water before giving fluoride supplements to your child (check with local water utilities - San Francisco Municipal Water District is fluoridated)
  • 2 and 3-year olds may not be able to expectorate (spit out) fluoride-containing toothpaste when brushing. As a result, these youngsters may ingest an excessive amount of fluoride during tooth brushing. Toothpaste ingestion during this critical period of permanent tooth development is the greatest risk factor in the development of fluorosis.
  • Excessive and inappropriate intake of fluoride supplements may also contribute to fluorosis.
  • Fluoride drops and tablets, as well as fluoride fortified vitamins, should not be given to infants younger than six months of age. After that time, fluoride supplements should only be given to your child after all the sources of ingested fluoride have been accounted for and upon the recommendation of your child's pediatrician or pediatric dentist.
  • Certain foods contain high levels of fluoride, especially powdered, concentrated infant formula, soy-based infant formula, infant dry cereals, creamed spinach, and infant chicken products. Some beverages also contain high levels of fluoride, especially decaffeinated teas, white grape juices, and juice drinks and soda drinks manufactured in fluoridated cities.
  • Fluoride in the water supply decreases by 30% the chance of your child getting cavities. 
If fluoride is not in your water supply (San Francisco Municipal Water District is fluoridated), our office will be able to prescribe it. The dosage changes at 3 years old, again at 6 years old, and should be taken daily until 10-12 years of age. If you have a water filtration system or use a lot of bottled water, your child may not be receiving an adequate amount of fluoride and will be more prone to getting cavities.
  • Bottled water with fluoride is available for your very young child.
  • Arrowhead Water is one example of fluoridated bottled water.
  • We recommend a fluoride product such as Colgate Phos-Flur Rinse or Johnson & Johnson ACT Rinse to help prevent cavities, especially if your older child is wearing braces.

In the following picture, you can see evidence of the damage that occurs during orthodontic treatment without proper brushing and flossing. The white spots are scars on the tooth surface, which will not go away without treatment.

When should my child start using toothpaste?
 
When your child is 12 months to 2 years old, you can use a pea sized amount of non-fluoridated, training toothpaste.

When your child reaches 2-3 years of age, fluoridated toothpaste can be introduced. You should supervise your child while he/she is brushing and make sure that your child uses no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on his/her toothbrush. Make sure that your child spits out the toothpaste after brushing so that he/she does not swallow the fluoride.

When will my child's teeth erupt?
 

The age at which teeth erupt into your child's mouth varies widely among different children.

Babies are born with their primary teeth formed underneath the gums, but these teeth do not start appearing until many months later. In general, the first baby teeth to erupt are usually the lower front teeth, and they come in between the ages of 6-10 months. Although all 20 primary teeth usually appear by age 3, the pace and order of their eruption varies from child to child.


Your child's first permanent teeth begin appearing around age 6, starting with the first molars and the lower front teeth. These are important teeth because they help shape the lower part of your child’s face, as well as affect the position of your child's other permanent teeth.

Thereafter, your child's baby teeth will begin to fall out (exfoliate) to make room for his/her permanent teeth. Around the age of 12, your child may have a full set of permanent teeth, having lost all his/her baby teeth. Wisdom teeth, or 3rd molars, usually appear between the ages 17 and 21. Oftentimes, these teeth become impacted and will require extraction.