Common Dental Pain Culprits you Might not Know About

If you or your child has dental pain, you may assume cavities are the most likely cause. However, there are many reasons people experience dental pain that do not indicate a larger dental issue. Here are some possible explanations for dental pain:

Sinus Problems


Surprisingly, sometimes serious dental discomfort may not have anything to do with your mouth! Blocked sinuses due to infection, allergies or illness will frequently manifest as tooth pain. Sometimes this pain is quite severe, but there is probably not much your dentist can do to help. If you suspect a bacterial sinus infection, consult your primary care physician about taking an antibiotic to resolve sinus pressure. You may also try over the counter decongestants and/or pain relievers to help the pain subside until your sinuses balance back out.



Sometimes excessive sensitivity to hot or cold can indicate cavities or injury to the tooth, but that’s not the most likely explanation for pain and sensitivity. Some of us just have more sensitivity prone teeth. If temperature sensitivity causes you excessive discomfort, toothpastes like Sensodyne that contain potassium nitrate may help lessen your sensitivity. You may also need to avoid very hot or very cold foods for a time until the sensitivity lessens.

Cutting Teeth


We expect dental pain when infants teethe, but that’s not the only time that children may experience oral pain due to the formation of new teeth. Children may also get teething pains when loosing their baby teeth, as adult teeth push their way into the spot of the loose baby tooth. Additionally, adult molars form later in life in the back of the mouth around age 6-7 and again at 12-13. Later on, wisdom tooth eruption can cause pain as well, especially if there’s not enough room in the mouth to allow them to come in normally. Wisdom teeth usually begin coming in around age 17-21. Over the counter pain medication like ibuprofen can help with pain from erupting teeth.

Grinding or Clenching

Toothache For patients who habitually grind or clench their teeth, this could explain frequent toothaches. Clenching and grinding put your teeth and jaw under enormous pressure, which can lead to random toothaches or jaw pain, as well as dental caries, weakened tooth structure and other possible repercussions.

No one likes dental pain! Many times the source of a toothache can be fixed by your dentist, so if your child has excessive dental pain, call our office at 801-489-1301 to see one of our board certified pediatric dentists.


Brushing your Best and still getting Cavities? Try these Additional Preventive Tricks

Sometimes we’re doing our best to keep our teeth clean, but cavities still come up. While, some people are just extra prone to dental decay, stepping-up in the cavity prevention department can help even the most cavity prone patients.

Here’s a quick checklist to make sure you’re doing everything possible to keep those smiles healthy:

Revamp Your Routine


√   Item#1: More than the Minimum

Of course dental guidelines (and common knowledge) tell us to brush for two minutes at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. But in this case the “at least” is key! If brushing two times isn’t cutting it, some patients may benefit from increasing the frequency of their hygiene routine. Try brushing after every meal as well as each morning and night and add in more frequent flossing as well.

 Item #2: Perfect the Technique

Brushing everywhere in the mouth, and brushing for long enough are key to removing the bacteria and plaque that cause cavities. The most commonly missed areas of the mouth are the hard-to-reach back molars. Adjusting the angle of the toothbrush or the openness of the mouth may make getting the back molars easier. Remember, the best brushers don’t scrub harder; the best brushers just brush for long enough and make sure they get every inch of tooth.

Enough Internal Fluoride


Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral which has been proven to strengthen enamel and prevent cavities. Fluoride works on teeth in two ways; First, when swallowed it works systemically from inside your body to strengthen growing adult teeth. Secondly, when applied topically fluoride bonds with the minerals in your teeth to create a harder, more cavity resistant tooth.

 #3: Supplement your Supply

In most American Cities fluoride is added directly to the water, which means effortless access to fluoride both systemically and topically whenever you take a drink. However, several Utah cities don’t fluoridate the water, in which case your dentist or pediatrician can prescribe a fluoride supplement which can be taken like a vitamin.

It’s important to note that too much internal fluoride can result in “fluorosis” or permanent discoloration of incoming adult teeth. To avoid this condition, toothpaste should not be swallowed and those who live with a fluoridated water system should not take a fluoride supplement. Young children should use a mild child’s toothpaste until they’re capable of spitting out all the toothpaste used for brushing.

Total Topical Fluoride


 #4: Toothpaste that Works

The most common way most of us get topical fluoride is from toothpaste. It’s important to use a dentist recommended toothpaste with fluoride listed in the active ingredients. Many “holistic” or so-called “natural” cleaners claim to provide great results, but lack the ability to remineralize teeth and prevent cavities because they don’t contain fluoride.

Additionally, for patients with greater cavity risk, your dentist may prescribe an extra-strength toothpaste like Clinpro or Prevident. To get the best benefits from a prescription toothpaste, use it before bed, brush normally and then spit but don’t rinse. That way the fluoride will sit on the surface of the teeth overnight, giving it more time to work on your teeth.

#5: Less isn’t More

dentalxrayAnother way to ensure enough topical fluoride exposure is by having a professional fluoride varnish at each dental checkup. Some insurance plans may only pay for fluoride applications once a year, but the dentists at South Valley Pediatric Dentistry (and current best practice standards) recommend fluoride varnish applications at each semiannual cleaning for better protection from tooth decay (or more often, if cavities exist or the patient is considered high risk for developing cavities). If your insurance won’t cover fluoride each time, paying for fluoride out of pocket could save you money in the long run by preventing the larger cost of fixing cavities.


So, if you or your child has frequent cavities, you may be able to up your prevention game by following this list.

√   Item#1: More than the Minimum – Floss more often, and brush after every meal.

 Item #2: Perfect the Technique – Brush every area of the mouth thoroughly.

 #3: Supplement your Supply – Take a fluoride supplement if needed.

√ #4: Toothpaste that Works – Use a dentist recommended toothpaste with fluoride.

#5: Less isn’t More – Have a professional fluoride varnish at least twice a year.

These Procedures Could Save You Thousands on Braces

If you’ve ever looked into braces for you or your child, you know that orthodontics can cost a pretty penny. However, many parents aren’t aware that there are things we can do to avoid ever needing braces. Along with early prevention measures at home (like avoiding pacifiers and thumb sucking), your general dentist may be able to help keep your child out of the orthodontist chair in the long run with these treatment options.

Close Gaps with a Frenulectomy

wide gap

Stick your tongue up between your upper lip and the top of your front teeth. Do you feel that strip of skin attaching your lip and gums? That’s a frenulum. You also have one under your tongue. Most of us hardly even notice they’re there, but for some people an over-sized frenulum (a lip-tie or tongue-tie) can cause difficulty talking and eating, and/or leave large gaps between the front teeth.

Some children need the frenulum cut soon after birth due to an inability to latch while nursing. Others with a less significant lip-tie may be able to talk and eat normally, but still seek a frenulectomy later on to help close gaps between the front two teeth.

At South Valley Pediatric Dentistry we preform this procedure by gently separating the frenulum with a soft-tissue laser that cauterizes as it goes. This means no stitches, minimal discomfort and a faster recovery time for your child. Gaps caused by an over developed frenulum will likely close within a few short weeks after a frenulectomy is done, however, some cases may still require further orthodontic treatment.

Create Space with a Palatal Expander

palate expander

While lip-ties can create wide gaps for some children, others have the opposite problem — not enough space. For patients with a very narrow palate, over crowding can cause crooked, tight, or overlapping teeth. If your child has an undersized palate, a palatal expander may be the answer. This orthodontic device is less invasive and less expensive than braces, and can be fitted at your regular dental office, eliminating the need for multiple appointments with different providers.

A palatal expander is placed across the roof of the mouth and attached to the back molars. Instead of coming in for regular orthodontic adjustments, parents are given instructions to gradually adjust the width of the device at home. By expanding the palate early on, we create room for adult teeth to come in the correct place, which can lead to a straight smile right off the bat!

Treat Crowding with Orthodontic Extractions

Some patients may have relatively straight teeth that are just overcrowded in the mouth. In this case, your dentist may be able to extract one or more teeth to make the others fit. Often, orthodontists will recommend extractions in addition to other orthodontic treatment, but in some cases braces can be avoided by extracting teeth early on as adult teeth come in. Ask your dentist if extractions could help your child avoid overcrowding.

Before you shell out for braces…

It never hurts to ask if another treatment could be right for your child. To schedule a consultation at South Valley Pediatric Dentistry call 801-489-1301.



5 Ways Parents Help Fearful Kids Love the Dentist (And 2 that make fear worse!)

Dental appointments can frighten patients of all ages, but for children the experience can seem especially traumatic. Many kids associate medical offices with getting shots, so they might be on edge the moment they step through the door. All too often even a routine cleaning can turn into a tantrum, despite the best efforts of parents and dental staff. But there are some things parents can do to help their child feel more comfortable.

1. Talk it Up

Parent Support

Preparing your child for what’s to come can help them understand that there’s nothing to fear. If they’ve had a cleaning before, remind them that they just had their teeth brushed and checked and that it’s easy if you sit still. Remind them about what they enjoyed from their visit, like the toys in the waiting room, or the prize at the end. Always keep it honest (while highlighting the positive)! Similar strategies can apply when a child comes in for the first time. Check out this guide for prepping littles for their first check-up.

2. Keep Calm

Keep Calm

This may be easier said than done, but several studies indicate that parent’s concern worsens dental fear in children. Try to talk positively about the dentist before your appointment, and keep a cool head while your little one is in the chair. Hovering, fidgeting, and even behaving in an overly soothing or consoling way can trigger fear in children as they pick up on the non-verbal cues that you’re not comfortable here.

3. Set the Example


Let your little one know that everyone needs to go to the dentist to keep their teeth healthy. Schedule your own regular cleaning, and (if possible) bring your child with you to your appointment to show them how easy it is.

4. Bring them Regularly


Most anxiety stems from fear of the unknown. Having regular cleanings can help children feel comfortable with the process of dental visits. Besides which, having regular cleanings can help prevent cavities, so kids don’t have to worry about things like fillings and shots.

5. Find a Kid-Friendly Provider

Open Bay


Pediatric Dentists, like the providers at South Valley Pediatric Dentistry, have specialized training in dealing with young patients, so they can often offer an easier experience for their patients. Additionally, Pediatric Dental offices provide kid-friendly activities, like movies, games and toys, to keep children occupied during their visit.


When kids won’t cooperate for their visit, well-meaning parents sometimes react in ways that make the fear worse, but this can be avoided by remembering these tips.

1. Don’t Shout


Having an uncooperative child at the dentist can be extremely frustrating and embarrassing, but when parents lose their tempers during the visit, children just get even more scared. Now they think they’re in trouble, so they’re crying for two reasons! Lots of situations call for a good loud lecture, but being afraid of the dentist isn’t one of them.

2. Don’t Give Up


When kids throw a giant tantrum at the dentist, sometimes throwing in the towel seems like the best option. But the more you make the effort, the better time they will have. Keep seeing the dentist to give kids a sense of familiarity with the process. Eventually most children will grow out of their fear with continued visits.

We all want what’s best for our kids, and that includes a healthy smile and a trauma-free dental experience. While, some children have a harder time than others, and there’s no magic bullet to make every child feel okay, having a consistent, positive, kid-oriented dental home can help the process go much smoother.

For more strategies on helping your child’s dental health, call 801-489-1301 to speak with our reception staff today.

Sorting out Silver Diamine Fluoride

Lately the dental staff at South Valley Pediatric Dentistry have gotten more and more questions surrounding a new alternative treatment for dental decay: Silver Diamine Fluoride.

Silver Diamine Fluoride, or SDF, is a topical treatment, which can be used to stop the progress of cavities. It has been used outside of the US for decades, but was only recently approved by the FDA for use domestically.  Silver Diamine Fluoride, or SDF, has been studied thoroughly and shown to be effective, when used appropriately by trained clinicians.

However, many people have misconceptions about the purpose and use of SDF. Though it shows immense promise as a treatment alternative, it also has limitations, and might not be the magic bullet some make it out to be.


Here’s everything you need to know about Silver Diamine Fluoride:

What it does:

SDF kills cavity causing bacteria, strengthens surrounding healthy enamel, reduces sensitivity, and slows or prevents the spread of decay.

What it cannot do:

SDF does NOT repair existing decay.  Which means that teeth treated with SDF still have damaged areas of tooth that can collect bacteria, compromise tooth structure, and cause future pain or other problems. Only dental restorations, such as fillings and crowns, can actually repair decay.

Who can benefit:

Children who are too young for certain types of sedation (generally ages 0-3 may be too young for some sedation methods), can use SDF to arrest further decay until they are old enough to restore their teeth with fillings or crowns. It may also help children with cavities on baby teeth that will fall out soon, if those cavities are mild enough to go without restoration until the teeth fall out naturally.

Who it’s not for:

Adults and older children who can use other methods to restore teeth and prevent further decay. If older patients experience dental anxiety, we recommend laughing gas, Valium or sedation to assist with treatment.

Furthermore, if you are allergic to silver, heavy metals, or fluoride, you should never use SDF.

Side Effects:

Silver Diamine Fluoride on child's front teeth, demonstrating the black stain
These anterior teeth have been treated with silver diamine fluoride. Photo credit

Silver Diamine Fluoride will stain decayed areas a dark brown or black color as seen here, but it will not permanently discolor healthy teeth.

SDF will also stain any clothes or skin it comes in contact with. Stains on skin will go away on their own within a few days or weeks, but cannot be washed out.



Silver Diamine Fluoride can provide a valid treatment alternative for some patients. While it may slow down or stop the progression of cavities for a time, it cannot take the place of traditional dental restorations, such as fillings and crowns. If you have further questions about this, or any other oral health questions, be sure to ask your dentist or give us a call at 801-489-1301.

What to Do in an Emergency?

So your five year old fell off his scooter at top speed and chipped his two front teeth. After the initial shock of the fall wears off, he seems OK, but the rough edges of his broken tooth irritate his tongue and lips. And to top it off, it’s 7:00 PM and South Valley Pediatric Dentistry is closed. What do you do? Do you call the after hours line? Is this an emergency? And how urgent is it? scooter edited

Surprisingly, A broken tooth may not be as urgent as people think, while a simple white nodule on the gums could spell real trouble! So what dental conditions need immediate attention from your dentist and what can wait for a while? There’s no hard and fast rule, but by following these general guidelines, you can feel confident in dealing with dental accidents and emergencies.

1. Toothache or Mouth Pain

Pain is the most crucial indicator in whether to treat a dental condition as an emergency or to take care of it over time, during regular office hours. If your child is inconsolable, complaining of or indicating severe pain in the mouth, or unable to sleep or eat properly, we’d recommend calling our office, or after hours line as soon as possible.

With this degree of pain we will try to squeeze you into our schedule same-day, or the next day at the latest, if you call during office hours. If you call after hours, our on-call dentist can talk you through home treatment or come into the office, based on his professional opinion of the situation. Please consider, however, that after-hour emergency treatment is more expensive than treatment during business hours, and may incur an immediate out of pocket expense. Toothache

We recommend over the counter pain relievers like children’s Motrin to help control dental pain until you can get into the office. Make sure to use medications according to the instructions, and/or follow any doctor’s guidelines on use, especially for children. Other home remedies, such as rinsing an effected area with salt water, and/or applying cold or warm compresses can also help, especially with pain due to injury, infection and/or swelling.

On the other hand, if a child feels OK, they are likely fine to hold off on scheduling until convenient for you.

2. Broken teeth

Once again, pain is your indicator here. If a broken tooth goes deep enough, it can cause significant pain, so you’ll want to see your dentist as soon as you can. However, shallow chips or breaks that don’t cause pain, can wait. We will want to take an x-ray to make sure the injury hasn’t damaged the root of the tooth or unexposed adult teeth, but that can wait a few days, provided you keep an eye out for discoloration or infection.


Chipped teeth can be fixed with simple composite fillings (or sometimes just by smoothing out the rough edges) and often don’t require immediate attention, unless accompanied by severe pain.

3.  Infection/Abscess

Signs of infection include pain, swelling, heat surrounding the area of infection, or fever. If your child has a white, yellow or clear bump on the gum above a tooth, this could indicate an abscess, a potentially dangerous condition.

Example of an abscessed baby tooth. Photo Credit:

Sometimes mouth ulcers (canker sores) are confused for abscess. Though they sometimes look similar, you can usually tell an abscess by its raised, rounded, puss filled appearance, while cold sores are usually flat or sunken in open sores.

If you suspect abscess or dental infection, keep the area clean with salt water rinses, use over the counter pain reliever to address any pain or fever, and call our office to schedule as soon as possible. If you suspect an abscess has burst, call our after hours line or come by the office.

4. Displaced adult tooth

If your child has an accident that knocks out or shifts a permanent tooth, come see us immediately. Handle the tooth by the top (crown), not the root portion. Avoid cleaning or handling the tooth unnecessarily. Try to reinsert it in its socket. Have the child hold the tooth in place by biting on a clean gauze or cloth. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, place the tooth in a cup of milk. See the dentist immediately! Time is a critical factor in saving the tooth.

5. Other injuries to the mouth

Toothache2For bruises on lips, gums or cheeks, ice packs and pain reliever can help with pain and swelling until the area heals. If you suspect a broken jaw, go immediately to the nearest emergency room or urgent care.

For bleeding in or around the mouth, apply gentle, yet firm pressure with a clean cloth or gauze. If bleeding persists, go to nearest emergency room or urgent care as stitches may be required.

Feel free to Call

If you’re not sure what to do, or how serious a dental condition may turn out to be, always feel free to call us during regular office hours and do not hesitate to contact our on-call dentist, if necessary. Our dental team will happily assist you with any questions or concerns regarding your child’s mouth. Reach out any time at 801-489-1301.

Dental Sealants: What Parents Need to Know

As your child’s molars come in, your dentist may recommend sealants as a preventative measure against future tooth decay. At South Valley Pediatric Dentistry we suggest this simple, pain-free procedure as soon as your child’s six-year old molars erupt and again as twelve-year molars arrive. Sealants have been proven safe and effective in preventing tooth decay, but parents often have questions about their use, application and effectiveness.


Why do my children need sealants?

Molars have deep ridges in their chewing surfaces, where food particles can stick. Furthermore, many patients find it difficult to brush back molars thoroughly enough to keep these deep ridges clean. Sealants help keep food away from the enamel of your tooth, preventing cavity-causing bacteria from growing where the sealant is applied. The American Dental Association recommends applying sealants to the teeth of all children and adolescents.

How are sealants applied?

dental-sealants-exampleA dental assistant will apply your child’s sealants. The assistant will first clean and dry the tooth and apply a layer of gel which allows the sealant to stick. After a few seconds, the assistant will rinse the tooth, dry it thoroughly and apply a layer of plastic. Lastly, the assistant will use a UV light to make the sealant very hard.

Will my child need sedation for sealants?

Sealants don’t require local anesthetic like fillings do, so many children are able to handle getting them without any trouble. Some patients with anxiety or special needs may not be able to sit still while sealants are applied. However, we only sedate children who need extensive dental restoration (fillings and crowns). Though sealants are an important preventive measure, and we use the safest sedation practices possible, the risks of sedation simply out-way the benefits of getting them done. However, if your child requires sedation for other dental work, we will usually also apply sealants while they’re asleep.

How much do sealants cost?

Sealant cost will vary by dental practice. Our office charges $39 per sealant. Most dental insurance policies cover them, at least in part, and many cover 100% of sealants. What’s more, paying for sealants can save you money, since cavities are much pricier to fix.

How effective are sealants?

Studies have shown sealants result in an 80% reduction in dental cavities. Sealants Work

How safe are sealants?

Very safe! Some parents worry about the amount of BPA in sealants but according to the American Dental Association, children are exposed to higher levels of BPA from food, drink, sunscreen and shampoo than dental sealants.

Sealants are SafeSealants are safer and easier to apply than fillings, crowns and other dental restorations because dentists don’t have to numb the mouth, which carries some minor risks.


How have sealants worked for your family? Tell us more in the comments below or on Facebook!