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Children with Special Health Care Needs

Our practice values each child as an individual. We understand that children with special health care needs require a dental practice that is open and understanding. We are aware that they often experience a higher risk of oral diseases with potential effects to their overall quality of health throughout life. Whatever your child’s circumstance, all of our patients are treated on a case by case basis with particular emphasis on their individual needs. Our staff is committed to:

Each visit begins by listening to the special circumstances of each child. We understand that parents and caregivers know their children better than anyone else. By listening to you and patiently answering your questions we are able to work together in providing the best possible care for your child.

No two children are the same. Instead of asking our patients to adapt to an unchanging structure of treatment, we strive to remain flexible with treatment options by balancing the safety and emotional well-being of each patient with effective dental care.

Our staff truly cares about each of our patients. Further, our practice is equipped to care for children with special health care needs because of expertise gained through additional training. Dr. Merlo chose pediatric dentistry as a dental specialty because she is passionate about helping children begin a lifetime of good oral hygiene. This passion is especially present in our treatment of children with special health care needs.


Preventative care should start with the arrival of the first tooth. This is important for keeping young teeth in their strongest natural condition. Dr. Merlo recommends that you bring your child to see us by their first birthday and recalls be scheduled every six months after that.

Digital x-rays serve as an educational tool that allows Dr. Merlo, you, and your child to see what is going on. X-rays are necessary to evaluate your child's development and to look for cavities. Dr. Merlo will assess the right time to take x-rays on your child based on specific dentistry guidelines. She recommends having x-rays of your child's teeth taken at least once a year, or more often if your child has an area of concern. We use state-of-the-art digital x-rays that have very little radiation, and we only take the ones needed to provide a comprehensive exam of your child.

Keeping teeth and gums clean and free of bacteria, plaque, tartar, and food is a big part of being healthy for life. That's another reason to have regularly scheduled visits.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring element, which has shown to prevent tooth decay by as much as 50-70%. However, too little fluoride can be detrimental to the teeth. With little or no fluoride, the teeth aren’t strengthened enough to help them resist cavities. Dr. Merlo can give you recommendations on fluoride use.

Restorative Dentistry

Space Maintainers
If a tooth must be removed early because of decay, infection, or other problems, we can place a space maintainer to protect the space for the new tooth. New teeth do not immediately replace a lost tooth. Sometimes it can take years before a new tooth grows in to replace a baby tooth. This can cause the remaining teeth to shift and move to fill the gap. Preserving space for the new, adult tooth is important for positioning and allowing the permanent tooth to come in properly.

Nitrous Oxide
Some children are given nitrous oxide/oxygen, or what you may know as laughing gas, to relax them for their dental treatment. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is a blend of two gases, oxygen and nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is given through a small breathing mask which is placed over the child’s nose, allowing them to relax, but without putting them to sleep. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, recognizes this technique as a very safe, effective technique to use for treating children’s dental needs. The gas is mild, easily taken, then with normal breathing, it is quickly eliminated from the body. It is non-addictive. While inhaling nitrous oxide/oxygen, your child remains fully conscious and keeps all natural reflexes.

Prior to your appointment:

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