Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Diet & Cavity Prevention

How do I know if my child is getting the appropriate amount of fluoride in their diet?

If you do not reside in a community that has fluoridated water or have the appropriate amount of natural fluoride in your well water, your child will need some sort of supplement in their diet. We can help you determine how much of a supplement your child needs based upon their weight, age, current water fluoride level, and brand of toothpaste.  We can help you test your well to evaluate the actual level of fluoride present in your water supply.

What is an appropriate diet for my child?

It is important that your child receives a naturally-balanced diet that includes the important nutrients your child needs in order to grow. A daily diet should include the major food groups of meat/fish/eggs, vegetable/fruit, bread/cereal as well as milk and other dairy products.  Tap water (or bottled water with nothing in it …NOT fruit water , flavored water, or drops added to water) should be your child’s main drink for a healthy diet!

Can my child’s diet affect their dental health?

Absolutely! It is important that you initiate a balanced diet for your child so that their teeth develop appropriately. In addition, this will positively affect healthy gum tissue surrounding the teeth. Please note that a diet high in sugar and other forms of carbohydrates will increase the probability of tooth decay.

How do I create a diet that is safe for my child’s teeth?

As we stated earlier, initiate a balanced diet. Analyze the frequency in which starch-based foods (carbohydrates) are eaten. These types of foods include breads, pasta, potato chips, etc. which break down into sugars. Sugar is found in more than just candy.  All types of sugars can promote tooth decay. For example, most milk-based products contain sugar. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a favorite for bagged lunches. Unfortunately, it includes sugar not only in the jelly, but also in the peanut butter. For less sugar and more flavor and nutrients, try replacing jelly with fresh fruit slices (apples, pears, or bananas) or chopped dried fruit. Go easy on the peanut butter, though — it’s high in fat. Choose the “no-salt-added” kind for less sodium.

Should I eliminate all sugar and starch from my child’s diet?

Of course not. Many of these foods are incredibly important to your child’s health, although starch-based foods are much safer to eat for teeth when eaten with an entire meal. Foods that stick to teeth are also more difficult to wash away by water, saliva, or other drinks. Grazing should be avoided to help prevent cavities!

Avoiding soda (including sugar-free), sports drinks (acidic and sugary), and all sticky fruit snacks and sticky candy is important!  Certainly moderation in other things works best, such as juice or treats such as chocolates, popsicles, ice cream.  Remember sugar that dissolves leaves your child’s mouth quicker than sugar that sticks (ie. grape vs. raisin or m&m’s vs. fruit snack/rollup). 

It’s important that you talk to our staff about your child’s diet and to maintain proper dental care.

What helpful information can you give me regarding tooth decay in infants?

Most importantly, don’t nurse your children to sleep or  put them to bed with a bottle of milk, juice, or formula. When a child is sleeping, any liquid that remains in the mouth can support the bacteria that produce acid and harm the teeth. A simple pacifier or bottle of tap water is fine!

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Tooth Loss

What should I do if my child’s baby tooth is knocked out?

Contact our office as soon as possible.

What should I do if my child’s permanent tooth is knocked out?

Rinse the knocked out tooth in cool water. Do not scrub the tooth. If possible, replace the tooth in the socket and hold it there with clean gauze or washcloth. If you can’t put the tooth back into the socket, place the tooth in a container of milk (or water if milk is not available.) Contact our office immediately. Time is of the essence! Feel free to call our emergency number if it is after hours. The tooth has a better chance of being saved if you act immediately.

What should I do if my child’s tooth is fractured or chipped?

Contact our office as soon as possible.  Our goal is to save the tooth and prevent infection. Rinse the mouth out with water and apply a cold compress to reduce swelling. It’s possible that if you can find the broken tooth fragment, it may be able to be bonded back to the tooth.  We will evaluate the timing of a permanent restoration or a tooth “bandage” based on the position of the fracture,  any other oral abrasions and the amount of swelling present.

What do I do if my child has a toothache?

Call our office immediately to schedule an appointment. To help comfort your child, rinse out the mouth with cold water and apply a compress.

How can we prevent dental injuries?

Simple. Sport related dental injuries can be reduced or prevented by wearing mouth guards. Childproofing your home can help reduce injuries at home. In addition, regular dental check ups will contribute to preventative care.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Sealants

What are sealants?

Tooth sealant refers to a plastic that a dentist bonds into the grooves of the chewing surface of a tooth as a means of helping prevent the formation of tooth decay.

How do sealants work?

In many cases, it is very difficult for children to clean the tiny grooves on the chewing portion of their teeth. When a sealant is applied, the  chewing surface of the tooth becomes somewhat flatter and smoother. There are no longer any places on the chewing part of the tooth that the bristles of a toothbrush can’t reach and clean. Since plaque can be removed more easily and effectively, there is much less chance that decay will start.

What is the life expectancy of tooth sealants?

The longevity of sealants varies. Sealants that have remained in place for three to five years would be considered successful, however, sealants can last much longer. It is not uncommon to see sealants last 7-10 years and still intact on the teeth of young adults. Our office will check your child’s sealants during routine dental visits and will recommend repair or reapplication when necessary.

Which teeth should be sealed?

Any tooth that shows characteristics of developing decay should be sealed. The most common teeth for a dentist to seal are a child’s back teeth,  6 and 12 year molars. The recommendation for sealants should be considered on a case-by-case basis.  In high risk patients, sealants may be recommended on the primary molars, especially if a sedation appointment is indicated for the treatment of cavities elsewhere in a child’s mouth.

What is the procedure for placing sealants?

Generally the procedure takes just one visit. Placing dental sealants is a very easy process. The tooth is cleaned, conditioned, and dried. The sealant is then flowed onto the grooves of the tooth where it is hardened with a special blue light and then buffed. All normal activities can occur directly after the appointment, including eating and drinking.

How important is brushing and flossing after sealants are applied?

It is just as important for your child to brush and floss their teeth with sealants in place. Sealants are only one part of the defensive plan against tooth decay and if good hygiene is lacking the acids in plaque can dissolve the bond of the sealant over time.

How much does it cost?

This treatment is quite affordable, especially when you consider the value of protection against tooth decay. Most dental insurance companies cover sealants. Check with your insurance company about your child’s coverage.

Frequently Asked Questions About Office Protocols

Is Photography allowed?

We respect the privacy rights of all of our patients and staff.  Therefore we do not allow photography (video or otherwise) on premises.

Parental Presence At Appointments?

A parent or legal guardian must accompany a child to their first dental visit.  We understand that it may be necessary to have someone other than the parent/legal guardian bring a child to subsequent visits and can provide paperwork necessary to be completed for this purpose.  Your child’s treatment plan must be signed by the parent/legal guardian prior to rendering dental services. This serves as consent.  Our office must be notified, by phone, the day prior to an appointment if someone other than the parent/guardian is bringing him/her in order to review treatment and any health related questions can be updated at the time of that call. All co-payments must be taken care of on the day of service by whomever accompanies the child.  A parent/legal guardian should be reachable by phone in case of the need to contact them.

Do I Stay With My Child During Their Visit?

We ask that you allow your child to accompany our staff through the dental experience and that you remain in the reception room.  We are all highly experienced in helping children overcome anxiety.  Separation anxiety is not uncommon in children, so please try not to be concerned if your child experiences some negative behavior.  This is normal, age appropriate and will soon diminish.  We have learned that we can establish a direct and close relationship more quickly with  your child when you remain in the reception room. Our goal is to gain your child’s confidence and help him/her to overcome any apprehension. This also allows Dr. Commarato the opportunity to evaluate a child’s behavior and reactions in the dental environment in order to discuss with you options should treatment for cavities be necessary.  Our office provides the option of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and in-office sedation with a certified dental anesthesiologist.


Frequently Asked Questions About Tooth Grinding

Does Your Child Grind His Teeth At Night? (Bruxism)

Parents are often concerned about the nocturnal grinding of teeth (bruxism). Often, the first indication is the noise created by the child grinding on their teeth during sleep.  Or, the parent may notice wear (teeth getting shorter) to the dentition. One theory as to the cause involves a psychological component. Stress due to a new environment, divorce, changes at school, etc. can influence a child to grind their teeth. Another theory relates to pressure in the inner ear at night. If there are pressure changes (like in an airplane during take-off and landing, when people are chewing gum, etc. to equalize pressure) the child will grind by moving his jaw to relieve this pressure.  Another theory relates to enlarged tonsils and airway compromise.  The acid erosion of enamel caused by acid reflux (GERD) can mimic the appearance of bruxing. 

The majority of cases of pediatric bruxism do not require any treatment. The good news is most children outgrow bruxism. The grinding decreases between the ages 6-9 and children tend to stop grinding between ages 9-12.  If you suspect bruxism, discuss this with Dr. Commarato.


Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Mouthguards

What is a mouthguard?

A mouth guard is comprised of soft plastic. They come in standard or custom fit to adapt comfortably to the upper teeth.

Why is a mouthguard important?

A mouth guard protects the teeth from possible sport injuries. It does not only protect the teeth, but the lips, cheeks, tongue, and jaw bone as well. It can contribute to the protection of a child from head and neck injuries such as concussions. Most injuries occur to the mouth and head area when a child is not wearing a mouth guard.

When should my child wear a mouthguard?

It should be worn during any sport-based activity where there is risk of head, face, or neck injury. Such sports include football, hockey, soccer, karate, basketball, baseball, skating, skateboarding, as well as many other sports. Most oral injuries occur when children play basketball, baseball, and soccer, as mouth guards are not mandatory to participate in these sports.

How do I choose a mouthguard for my child?

Choose a mouth guard that your child feels is comfortable. If a mouth guard feels bulky or interferes with speech to any great degree, it is probably not appropriate for your child.  To have you child get used to their mouthguard we recommend they play outdoors with it, ride their bike with it and use it prior to going to practice and games with one!

There are many options in mouth guards. Most guards are found in athletic stores. These vary in comfort, protection as well as cost. The least expensive tend to be the least effective in preventing oral injuries. Customized mouth guards can be provided through our practice. They may be a bit more expensive, but they are much more comfortable and shock absorbent.


We appreciate that you have entrusted your child’s dental care to Dr Renee Commarato. We sincerely hope that you and your child will find all visits to our office comfortable and rewarding. We value your referral of family and friends!

If at any time you have questions, please call our office 330-394-1516.  We look forward to the opportunity to assist you!