How Pediatric Dentistry Has Grown Over the Years

Pediatric Dentistry in Los Angeles, CA

Although dentistry dates back to 5000 BC, the pediatric field didn’t become a distinct practice until the 1900s. Since the previous century, this specialty has evolved rapidly to reach the current form we know today—and it continues to change as new technologies and practices are developed. When your child visits a dental office for pediatric dentistry in Los Angeles, CA, you’re taking a small part in this evolution.

Roots in Los Angeles

The first-ever pediatric dental specialists worked right here in LA. In the early 1900s, Minnie Evangeline Jordan opened a dental practice just for kids here in our city—a unique concept for its time. Other practices steadily began in California and elsewhere, but it wasn’t until the 1940s that the American Dental Association officially recognized pediatric dentistry as a specialty.

Building a Healthy Foundation

Over time, a multidisciplinary approach to pediatric dentistry became more popular as experts recognized how a child’s oral health impacted their overall health. In the early 2000s, the American Dental Association promoted the concept of comprehensive oral healthcare beginning before children turn one year old. By starting early, dentists ensure healthy development, and families form good habits for scheduling routine appointments. Today, about 87% of American children ages 2-17 visit the dentist at least once a year—more than in any other decade.

Dr. Robbins actually recommends an initial visit by the time that child’s first baby teeth appear and sometimes, even sooner, as in newborns that are experiencing difficulties with breastfeeding.

Today’s Pediatric Practices

Nowadays, it is common for dentist offices to specialize in young patients and create welcoming environments for them. In addition to a more gentle, “child-centric” approach, many of today’s best practices follow integrative pediatric dentistry, aiming to find the underlying causes of dental problems—rather than just treating symptoms. Integrative pediatric dentists consider a broad scope of health and behavioral issues, as well as anatomical and functional issues, that may impact the dental health and the overall well-being of the pediatric patient. Today’s pediatric dentists also take a multidisciplinary approach, collaborating with other dental, medical, and other professionals who specialize in treating infants, toddlers, growing children, adolescents, and teens.

How Do You Treat Crowded Teeth in Children?

How Do You Treat Crowded Teeth in Children in Los Angeles, CA

The mouth of a growing child is a busy place! There’s a lot going on as teeth emerge from the gums because the developing dentition (the positioning, number, and interrelationship of the teeth) is dynamic; everything is moving in real-time. This movement includes not just the teeth but the bones and connective tissue of the jaw, palate, face, and cranium. Positioning of the teeth, their aesthetic appearance, and how the teeth fit and work together are influenced by genetics, physiological forces, and also by behavior (e.g., mouth breathing), habit (e.g., thumb sucking), and even the types of foods a child eats (hard versus soft).

Teeth do not always emerge from the gums perfectly positioned and aligned. Instead, emerging teeth may twist, tilt forward or back, or to the side, or overlap, if there isn’t enough space along the dental arches. These crowded teeth in children in Los Angeles, CA, can negatively impact the structural and functional development of the mouth, airway, and jaw, as well as aesthetic appearance. Crowded teeth can affect the child’s self-esteem, cause pain, improper chewing, as well as problems with breathing. Because crowding of the teeth can lead to other problems or reflect underlying developmental issues, it is essential to receive treatment as soon as possible. Dr. Hila Robbins is a kids’ dentist specialist, specially trained to assess, diagnose and treat problems associated with crowded teeth.

It is important to emphasize that crowded teeth are not just a matter of appearance, and optimal treatment is about much more than “straightening the teeth.” Dr. Robbins’ treatment approach considers the whole body—how the biology, structure, and function of the oral cavity related to the rest of the body and the child’s overall health and development. Sometimes, early, gentle interventions (for example, the use of a custom-designed ALF appliance) that work with the body’s natural developmental tendencies can reduce or even eliminate the need for more invasive or forceful corrective procedures, such as tooth extraction or fixed wire braces. That said, Dr. Robbins takes a multi-disciplinary approach to treatment and may advise consultation with other specialists, such as an oral surgeon or orthodontist, either as part of early intervention or at a later time.

The Importance of Treating a Narrow Palate in Children

Narrow Palate Treatment for Children in Los Angeles, CA

A narrow palate is something that most people don’t consider until it starts affecting their kids. The presence of a narrow palate is a relatively common dental condition in children with a wide variety of potential causes. Genetics, facial trauma, and unhealthy habits, such as thumb sucking can all lead to narrow palates in children. The good news is that there are solutions, including narrow palate treatment for children in Los Angeles, CA. Treating your child’s narrow palate today will help:

Prevent Further Complications – Most parents are aware that narrow palates can result in insufficient space for permanent teeth to come in properly, potentially leading to overbites and crossbites. Yet, parents may not be aware that a narrow palate can restrict the airway, leading to breathing problems, and also prevent the oral cavity and face from developing properly in terms of structure/function and also, aesthetics. 

Reduce the Need for Future Treatments – Orthodontic treatment for older kids and adults can be a significant financial and time commitment. That’s why it’s important and wise to take care of dental issues at an early age before they worsen and become more expensive to treat. 

Boost Your Child’s Confidence – Every child deserves to smile with confidence. Proactively treating pediatric dental issues when children are young will set them up for confident adolescence and adulthood.

Don’t hesitate to contact Hila Robbins, DMD, Inc. for more information about pediatric dentistry and narrow palate treatment for children. As a kids’ dentist specialist, Dr. Robbins will be more than happy to explain the treatment options available for your child. We look forward to supporting your family soon.

Tongue-Tie Surgery for Children | Bottle & Breastfeeding Challenges

During the quiet moments of feeding your newborn, it’s important to ensure everything is as it should be. If you notice difficulty feeding or if your baby is experiencing slow weight gain, your baby may be tongue-tied. Some children are born with a short or tight frenulum, which can restrict optimal movement of the tongue; if that’s the case, your doctor may recommend tongue-tie surgery for children in Los Angeles.

What Causes Tongue-Tie?

A strip of tissue called the frenulum attaches the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Tongue-tie occurs when the frenulum is too short or tight and prevents a baby from latching onto a nipple properly. Moms who suspect that their baby is tongue-tied should consider a visit to a pediatric dental specialist or pediatrician for advice.

Symptoms

Breastfeeding moms may experience a reduced milk supply, cracked and sore nipples, and mastitis risk. Cases of tongue-tie in newborns can range from a minor restriction of the tongue to the tongue fused to the floor of the mouth. Tongue-tie is not always easy to spot and should be assessed by a pediatric oral care professional, but some signs include:

Their tongue doesn’t lift or move from side-to-side
Their tongue is heart-shaped
Slow weight gain
Difficulty feeding
Refusal by the baby to feed
Frequent/prolonged feeding without satiation
Clicking noises when feeding

Treatment

Tongue-tie surgery for children is called a frenulotomy or frenectomy. The procedure involves removing, reducing, or loosening a small amount of tissue under the tongue with a dental laser or surgical implement. Prior to performing a frenectomy, the pediatric dentist should take a full medical history, interview the mother regarding feeding history and symptoms, conduct an oral exam and assess the extent to which the baby’s tongue is restricted. While the frenectomy may be completed during a single in-office procedure, the pediatric dentist may recommend some pre-procedure preparation to facilitate a smooth procedure, as well as follow-up examination and oral exercises to ensure optimal results.

Nonsurgical BabyLase Therapy for Children and Toddlers in Los Angeles, CA

BabyLase Therapy for Children Los Angeles, CA

Helping nursing babies with gentle releases of oral tissues

About BabyLase Therapy for Children in Los Angeles, CA. Parents today are eager to learn how their young child’s oral anatomy and function can affect breastfeeding and the ability of nursing infants and toddlers to thrive. With greater awareness and research, parents and pediatric oral care providers are interested in the role restrictions or tightness of oral tissues—particularly tongue ties—play in breastfeeding.

Treating tongue ties in nursing children has traditionally involved a surgical procedure called a “frenectomy” or “frenotomy.” However, the latest research and technological advances have focused on less invasive procedures and protocols for follow-up care to optimize treatment outcomes.

BabyLase is a laser-assisted, non-surgical softening of tight tissues that can help nursing infants or toddlers with breastfeeding and guide them to a better nursing experience.

Dr. Hila Robbins is a specially trained BabyLase practitioner. As an innovator in the use of dental lasers in pediatric dentistry, Dr. Robbins has the specialized knowledge and clinical experience to advise and educate parents about the role that oral anatomy and function play in breastfeeding and early childhood development and to explain available treatment options when indicated.

BabyLase offers a more gentle, integrative, “whole body” approach that may also offer the possibility of avoiding surgery completely.

Pediatric Sleep-Disordered Breathing | Diagnosis & Treatment

Pediatric Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Los Angeles, CA

Diagnosis and treatment of pediatric sleep-disordered breathing in Los Angeles, CA, can help parents to understand tell-tale signs and symptoms of poor sleep and impaired breathing in their children and to take positive steps to improve their children’s health and wellbeing. Finding a pediatric oral health specialist with advanced training and tools for assessing sleep and breathing issues is often the first step to addressing health and behavioral issues, such as excessive daytime sleepiness, irritability, hyperactivity, and learning difficulties.

Causes & Concerns

The term sleep-disordered breathing refers to the disruption of normal, restful sleep due to impaired breathing. Most people associate sleep disorders with the condition known as sleep apnea, which is caused by abnormal relaxation of muscles in the airway during sleep. However, sleep-disordered breathing refers to a broader range of potentially unhealthful conditions of the oral cavity and airway, leading to unrestful and unhealthy sleep. While sleep apnea is one such condition, others include a narrow palate, small dental arches, and an anatomically constricted airway.

Pediatric dental specialists are trained to assess anatomical and functional conditions that may contribute to restriction of the airway and less than optimal airflow and breathing. Sometimes, these conditions exist at all times of day but become more problematic during sleep. This may be due to postures and head positions only assumed during sleep (that is, when not standing or physically active), or there may be other factors at play.

Impaired breathing during sleep is not healthful and, if left unaddressed, can negatively impact childhood development and performance and lead to permanent health effects in adulthood.

Diagnosis of Sleep-Disordered Breathing

Typically, the diagnosis of disordered sleep breathing is the result of observation and reports by parents and professional assessment by pediatric specialists. It is quite common that a pediatric dentist will receive a referral for potential problems from a speech pathologist or occupational therapist who may notice certain characteristic signs and symptoms that require follow-up.

The pediatric oral care specialist takes a health report and conducts a physical and functional exam, focusing on the oral cavity and airway and other factors, such as facial appearance and head & neck posture. A more detailed examination may include airway imaging and referral to a pediatrician or ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT) or sleep specialist.

The important point to emphasize is that diagnosing sleep-disordered breathing (including the possibility of sleep apnea) usually draws upon the expertise of more than one specialist.

Treating Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Children

Ideally, treating sleep-disordered breathing involves a multidisciplinary approach, combining the knowledge and resources of a team. Some conditions may be treated adequately by the dental specialist through an in-office procedure or with the prescribing of an oral appliance. Sometimes, a medical or surgical approach may be indicated, which may require referral. In many cases, it is also helpful to include ongoing functional therapy with an oral-myofunctional therapist, speech pathologist, and cranio-osteopath to reinforce positive behaviors in the treated child and ensure durable results.

If your child is not getting restful sleep or is showing signs or behaviors (at home, at school, at play) that suggest possible problems with normal, unobstructed breathing, speak to your pediatric oral health specialist or pediatrician.

Biological Dentistry: The Bigger Picture of Dental Health

Biological Dentistry - The Bigger Picture of Dental Health

Dentistry is constantly changing as new techniques, tools, procedures, and practices are implemented in the field. Today’s dentists are trained and equipped as never before to diagnose and treat dental conditions that can impact overall patient health, not only during childhood development but throughout life.

As usual, the focus of this blog post is on patient education. In this blog from the clinic of Hila Robbins, DMD, Inc., we will look at what you can expect from a biological dentist in Los Angeles, CA, versus what we all used to consider as “traditional dentistry.”

Traditionally, dentists were trained to treat the teeth and gums. Today’s dentists, especially those practicing biological dentistry, consider the entire clinical picture of the patient, thanks to ever-expanding knowledge and understanding of how the health of the teeth, gums, and oral cavity (all within the traditional scope of dentistry) interact with the rest of the body, either as a contributing cause, or a possible result of other, traditionally “non-dental” health issues. Today, taking a more comprehensive, biological view (as opposed to the more structural and anatomical approach of traditional dentistry, we know that dental and oral health can impact the health of the cardiovascular system, the immune system, the airway, breathing, and sleep, and more. You might say that today’s biological dentists focus on the big picture—not just the teeth and gums.

Consider, for example, the image at the top of this blog post. What you see is the result of a digital imaging procedure known as CBCT or Cone Beam Computed Tomography. The image presents a computer-generated, three-dimensional (volumetric, not flat) rendering of the cranium (the head) of a child. Using imaging software that combines radiology plus computer graphics capabilities, a properly equipped dentist, such as Dr. Robbins, can see the 3-D anatomy of the entire cranium, including the teeth, jaw, facial bones, bones of the skull, the airway (nasal cavity, throat, trachea), and more. Using imaging software, the dentist can “rotate” the CBCT image in space, look “inside” the image to view anatomy that may otherwise be obscured, and “slice” the 3-D image into discrete sections, from the front, sides, top, and bottom, or anyplace in between.

In plain English, today’s dentist can really see what’s going on, which can help with pinpointing the cause of a particular condition or symptom, to indicate the best treatment, and “predict” likely outcomes.

Using advanced tools, such as CBCT imaging, the biological dentist is able to see the bigger picture of the dental patient’s health, considering the whole body, with the goal to make more accurate and comprehensive diagnoses and offering more personalized treatment plans to patients.

Biological dentistry, as an example, focuses not just
on dental health but also on the patient’s entire physical and emotional wellness. These dentists prevent and treat oral disease by using natural therapies.

Taking the Mystery Out of Biological Dentistry for Children

Taking the Mystery Out of Biological Dentistry for Children

For busy parents with young children, searching for a children’s dental specialist can be bewildering. There are so many choices: traditional dentists, natural dentists, holistic dentists, and even biological dentistry in Los Angeles, CA. Understanding different treatment approaches can be confusing, but don’t get confused by the terminology.

All specialists in pediatric dentistry fulfill the basic oral health needs of children and are trained to diagnose, treat, and manage young patients—from infancy through adolescence. Some pediatric dentists focus mostly on younger patients; other specialists might accept new patients in their teens. Pediatric dentists are especially well versed in early childhood development, including anatomy and function, and in health conditions and special needs specific to children.

Advancements in the science and technology of healthcare, especially in our understanding of molecular biology and genetics, embryology, toxicology, pharmacology, biophysics, and bioengineering, have led to ever more precise diagnostic tests, imaging methods, biologically more compatible materials, and less invasive—and often, less painful, and faster healing—treatment modalities.

Today, we know much more about the effects of environmental influences—especially chemicals and materials—on early childhood development and long-term health.

Stated simply, a biological dentist is a dentist whose approach to the evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, and management of oral health issues considers the whole body—not just the oral cavity—and considers the latest knowledge of how dental medications, materials, and other environmental influences—in particular ingestible or topical ingredients—and treatment regimens impact both childhood development and health into adulthood.

A biological pediatric dentist purposefully considers the interaction between oral biology, whole-body biology, the environment—inside and outside of the body—and health. They consider when a so-called “natural approach” (which may be non-pharmacological or non-invasive) is most appropriate, based on the individual patient’s case. A biological dentist is also holistic, in the sense that they consider the whole body—not just the mouth—and consider the widest range of appropriate treatments—not just the most “high tech.” Lastly, biological dentists may be traditional, in the sense of following a more conservative—not abrupt, aggressive, or more invasive—approach.

Hila Robbins, DMD, Inc., favors the approach that makes the most sense for your child. This means considering, explaining, and making available treatment options that can help to provide optimal results.

Going to a Pediatric Oral Health Care Dentist Should be Fun

Going to a Pediatric Oral Health Care Dentist Should be Fun

Can you guess why these two super cute little critters look so happy? Because they are going to Dr. Robbins’ office for a visit! Say hello to Dr. Robbins’ two dogs, Jake (the smiling guy on the left) and Lulu (she’s missing her left eye, so she rocks a special haircut). Jake and Lulu are regular visitors to Dr. Robbins’ office, where they love to hang out with everyone and sniff around for treats. Ever considerate, Jake and Lulu are hypoallergenic; they don’t shed.

Visiting the pediatric dentist’s office should be an enjoyable experience for kids and a time for parents and families to feel welcomed. Years ago, when we first opened our office, we had a tiny rescue Yorkie named Holly, who became our very special “therapy dog.” Holly helped kids and parents to relax and feel at home. Dogs can sense how people feel, and Holly would always make kids, and their parents feel calm. It’s the same with Jake and Lulu every time they drop by the office.

You want your child to look forward to their dental appointments so that they can establish a positive attitude about their oral health. Your child’s permanent teeth should arrive in a healthy oral environment that establishes a promising dental future. You can set your child up for good pediatric oral health in the Los Angeles / Beverly Hills / Santa Monica, CA area, with the care of an experienced dentist and parental diligence.

Now that Jake and Lulu have got you smiling, here are a few words of advice from Dr. Robbins:

Learning Good Habits

One of the primary reasons to create healthy pediatric dental and oral care habits is to ensure those practices carry into adulthood. Start early. In infants, establish a routine for gently rubbing and cleaning the gums. Once baby teeth erupt, brush and floss those little teeth, and encourage your child to participate and, eventually, to take responsibility for his or her own brushing, flossing, and rinsing.

Routine Check-Ups

Visiting your pediatric oral health specialist will help your pediatric dentist to identify, follow, and, if advised, treat developmental issues related to dental and oral health. Yes, the pediatric dentist can help your child to stay ahead of dental decay, but that’s just one aspect of good oral care. Establishing a regular pattern of dental visits can help your child to become more comfortable in the dental chair and to know what to expect during regular visits.

Healthy Diet

It’s no secret that food and drinks high in sugar content are hard on teeth (and not good for general health), so limiting your child’s access to excessive sugar will protect and help maintain healthy teeth. Read food and drink labels. Foods and beverages labeled as “all-natural,” “made with real fruit,” or “gluten-free” can be very high in sugar.

3 Common Myths & Misconceptions About Dental Lasers

Dental Lasers in Pediatric Dentistry

Laser dentistry leverages the therapeutic benefits of highly energetic and precisely targeted laser light, often used in place of dental drills or cutting instruments. Dental lasers are now commonly used to remove decayed tooth enamel and to cut or remove soft oral tissue. This method can be an excellent treatment option for children of all ages and especially for kids who may not tolerate the sensations (sound, touch, pressure) associated with drilling or bladed instruments.

Dental laser treatment can help make a child’s visit less stressful because it doesn’t include the sensory experience of a dental drill. Although dental laser equipment may emit sounds, there is no high-pitched “whirring” that some young patients find disconcerting. Dental lasers provide Los Angeles, CA, pediatric patients with a treatment that can improve the in-office experience and clinical results.

Because dental lasers are a newer, less familiar type of technology, some misinformation has grown around their use:

It Is Expensive

The cost of laser treatment may be reimbursed by dental insurance providers, just as with conventional drilling. Investing in and operating dental laser equipment can be a significant financial commitment for the dentist, and better-equipped offices may invest in multiple machines. Dentists must also invest in advanced training and certification to use dental lasers safely in their practices. Thus, clinics using dental lasers may reflect the added cost of advanced technology, maintenance (very important!), and education in their fees. Remember, your dentist’s goal is to make your child’s office experience more enjoyable and to ensure that parents see the positive results: Happier, healthier kids!

It’s Painful

Dental laser procedures are usually significantly less painful than more traditional surgical or aesthetic procedures (those involving drills or blades). Reducing fear, stress, and physical discomfort is an important goal, especially with pediatric patients who, for various reasons, may not tolerate traditional treatments well.

Insurance Doesn’t Cover It

Most insurers do not determine whether a treatment is covered based on the method. Unless the procedure is strictly cosmetic, chances are your laser dental treatment is covered.

If laser dentistry sounds like something you would like to explore, talk to your pediatric dentist to see if it is a treatment option that they offer their patients.