Dental examinations help to diagnose disease before it becomes hazardous to your health. In addition, regular examinations can save you money by alleviating problems while they are small and before they become expensive to repair, or in some cases, impossible to repair. Your dental examinations generally include the following:

  • Oral cancer screening.
  • Evaluation of growth and development.
  • Orthodontic needs assessment.
  • Gum disease evaluation.
  • Visual examination of tooth decay.
  • Examination of diagnostic x-rays to see cysts, tumors, invisible decay and other problems that can't be seen by the naked eye.
  • Evaluation of status of current restorations (fillings and others).​

We cannot express enough how important it is to see your dentist regularly.

Remember, preventing disease is always better than treating disease.



Professional cleanings (dental prophylaxis) form the foundation for preventing gum disease and tooth decay. In a professional cleaning, your child's dental team will:

  • Remove plaque from the teeth -- plaque is a sticky substance that forms in the mouth from food, saliva and bacteria. Plaque sticks to teeth and causes tooth decay and gum disease.​
  • Remove calculus (tarter) above the gum line -- calculus is plaque that has hardened on the tooth surface and is difficult to remove. (Calculus below the gum line indicates gum disease and requires a different procedure to remove it.​
  • Polish and remove stains from teeth
  • Apply a layer of fluoride treatment- Professional fluoride treatment is a preventive therapy, which helps your body naturally fight cavities. Research has shown that fluoride not only reduces cavities in children and adults, but it also helps repair the early stages of tooth decay, even before the decay is visible. Fluoride is the best cavity fighter to help keep the whole family's teeth strong 



Dental x-rays, or radiographs, are very important. They allow the dentist to see things about your oral health that cannot be seen by the naked eye. These items include cysts (sacks of fluid that form on the roots of teeth), cancerous and non-cancerous tumors, invisible decay that occurs between teeth, and the location of teeth that haven't grown all the way in.

By using an x-ray to diagnose these problems, we can help save you money in the long run from surgeries or other treatments that might become necessary if we didn't find the problem. In some cases, where dental x-rays show the location of tumorous growths, x-rays can be responsible for saving your life.

Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

Modern dental x-ray machines are very safe. We use only state-of-the-art, low radiation machines. The amount of radiation exposure your body receives on an airplane flight from Los Angeles to New York exceeds the amount of exposure you will receive from a modern dental x-ray machine. Contrast this minimal exposure with the risk of not finding an illness until it is too late, and you can see why we prescribe regular diagnostic x-rays.




Adequate home care is imperative if you want to maintain a healthy, beautiful smile and prevent costly dental treatment in the future. The goal of home care is to regularly remove the sticky film of bacteria called plaque from your teeth.

Brush your teeth twice daily using a soft tooth brush. Gently vibrate the brush in a circular fashion at a 45 degree angle to the gum line. Then gently vibrate the brush back and forth on each tooth surface until you have effectively cleaned the entire mouth. You should also brush your tongue to remove the bacteria that causes bad breath.

You can use any soft bristled, ADA approved tooth brush. We also recommend the use of modern electric tooth brushes such as Crest, Sonicare or Braun.

Your child should brush for approximately two minutes to effectively remove plaque that has formed on their teeth. Parents should monitor their child's brushing until the age of six. Your child's hygiene will be evaluated at his/her examination and effectiveness discussed.



Floss daily to remove plaque between teeth that you can't reach with regular brushing. Take 12" to 18" of dental floss and wrap it around the middle finger of each hand. Pull the floss tightly, and then use your thumb and forefingers to slide the floss gently between each set of teeth. Curve the floss around each tooth and move the floss up and down along the tooth, going as low as you can comfortably get under the gum line. Use a fresh section of floss for each tooth until you have flossed the entire mouth. Flossing aids are available to assist children with holding the floss.



Always rinse thoroughly with water after brushing (or after meals if you are unable to brush.) You may occasionally use a mouthwash to rinse. Children may benefit from the use of ACT fluoride rinse, to help prevent cavities from forming in between the teeth. It is not recommended for children to use alcohol based mouthrinses.




How to stop small amounts of decay from growing larger.

The Problem:

Deep grooves on the chewing surface of the tooth and/or small amounts of early decay.

The Solution:

A clear or tooth colored sealant is painted onto the surface to "seal" the pits and grooves and protect against decay. They are generally applied to children's first permanent back teeth. They also can be useful for adults in certain situations.


Sealants are an excellent way to protect chewing surfaces of teeth from decay. they are a much better financial investment than treating decay after it has started.


Sealants are not permanent. They generally last about 5 years with normal wear, but can wear off or chip off earlier in certain instances. Also, sealants, do not prevent decay between teeth or the onset of gum disease, so regular home care and dental visits are important.


There are no appropriate 

 alternatives to sealants. If a tooth has decay, it will need a filling or other restoration.



An inexpensive way to restore a small amount of tooth decay.

The Problem:

Decay on a small portion of any tooth.

The Solution:

A  composite filling is a tooth colored quartz-like material. After tooth  decay is removed  and cleaned, this tooth colored material is layered  into the tooth. Each layer is hardened or cured with a highly intense  visible light, and the final surface is shaped and polished to match the  tooth. The final restoration is virtually invisible.


White Fillings:

Composite  fillings are more than just attractive. They require minimal tooth  preparation. In other words, less healthy tooth structure is removed to  restore the tooth. Also, a sealant can be placed over the remaining  exposed groves of the tooth to minimize the risk of decay on another  area of the tooth.


White Fillings:

Composite fillings can be subject to wear and tear from tooth grinding and from biting into or chewing on hard objects, etc.


In  cases of extensive decay or if the baby tooth required a pulpotomy, a  crown is the best option. If the decay is not treated, it will most  likely increase in size and become a larger problem.​​



Protect and help keep badly decayed or fractured teeth

The Problem:

-Badly decayed teeth

-Fractured teeth

-Need to protect and strengthen


Tooth has had a baby root canal "pulpotomy"

The Solution:

A crown (often called a cap) covers the tooth and restores it to its original shape and size. Decay is removed and cleaned from the tooth and a preformed crown is placed over the tooth. Unlike adult crowns, in which the crown is made to fit the tooth and requires 2 appointments, baby crowns are placed in one visit die to the tooth being prepared to fit the preformed crown.


Crowns are incredibly strong due to the fact that they cover the entire tooth. This protects and strengthens the remaining tooth structure. They are the best chance for survival of a tooth that has had a baby root canal.


Crowns are an excellent restoration and have few disadvantages, however, most children's crowns are silver in color.


 Typically there are no good  alternatives to crowns. If the tooth has sustained enough damage to  require a crown, then the best prognosis for the tooth is to receive the  crown. Placing a filling on a tooth that should have a crown will  likely result in the tooth fracturing, recurrent decay on that tooth  and/or the loss of that tooth.  

Pulpotomy "Baby Root Canal"


When the nerve or pulp tissue of a primary or permanent tooth is  infected, it needs to be treated to prevent a dental abscess and loss of  the tooth. 

The Problem:

Decay that has reached the nerve/pulp of the baby tooth. 

The Solution:

Like adult root canals, the dentist will access the nerve chamber of the tooth, and remove some of the nerve/pulp of the tooth. Unlike adult root canals, this is a very short procedure, as only part of the pulp needs to be removed, and does not require the time consuming filing of adult root canals. 


If the tooth has been symptomatic this procedure will likely alleviate the pain. This allows for the tooth to be preserved until it is ready to fall out naturally.


Pulpotomies have a 90% success rate. Occasionally, the nerve of the tooth is so badly damaged that it does not respond to pulp therapy, resulting in the need for extraction of the offending tooth. Certain circumstances increase the likelihood of failure with pulpotomies. Dr. Ly will discuss your child's situation with you during diagnosis. 


The only alternative to a pulpotomy is extraction, and placement of a space maintainer. However, if it is possible to save the baby tooth, this is the best alternative because it preserves the appropriate spacing for the adult dentition.



  A space maintainer is a removable or cemented appliance that is custom-made by a dentist or orthodontist in acrylic or metal material.

The Problem:

Premature loss of your child\s baby tooth.

 The Solution: 

Space maintainer -- a combination of bands and wires designed to hold the remaining teeth in a position that will allow the future permanent tooth to erupt in the proper location. 


Prompt placement of a space maintainer will give the permanent tooth the best chance of erupting in the mouth in the correct location. This will minimize orthodontic problems caused by premature loss of a baby tooth. 


Your child will need to wear the appliance until the permanent tooth erupts. If not kept clean decay can occur under the bands. 


If a space maintainer is not placed, the teeth will shift into the open area, making it difficult or in some cases impossible for the permanent tooth to erupt. This requires orthodontics to remedy.




 Dr.  Ly offers nitrous oxide (laughing gas) for the slightly anxious child. 

 Nitrous oxide helps a child who is cooperative but worried about various  aspects of their appointment. It helps alleviate anxiety about having  instruments placed in the mouth. 

Even though nitrous oxide is a helpful tool, it sometimes isn’t for everyone. It requires a certain amount of cooperation from the child, as  they are required to breathe only through a plastic apparatus placed  over their nose. If the child is too young or too anxious to sit in a  chair and breathe through a nose-piece, nitrous oxide is not an option.

Nitrous  oxide is an extremely safe sedation option. When your child is  breathing nitrous oxide they are receiving more oxygen than they are  getting in room air! 

Find out more



Anytime anyone needs anesthesia, it is a big deal. This is especially true for parents of children having anesthesia for dental procedures. We recognize this process can be stressful for those who do not do it often, like us, and we will try to inform you of what to expect and answer any questions you may have before, during and after the procedure.

Find out more