Dr. Paul graduated with honors from the College of Dental Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in 2003, and then completed his post-doctoral specialty training in Pediatric Dentistry at MUSC in 2005. During his dental education, he received numerous awards and recognitions, including being named a Hinman Scholar, induction into the Omicron Kappa Upsilon National Dental Honor Society, the Dr. William S. Kramer Award of Excellence, and the Excellence in Academic Achievement award from Alpha Omega International Dental Fraternity annually given to the top honor graduate. Since completing his dental education, Dr. Paul has continued his commitment to excellence by attaining national board certification as a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. He is a member of the South Carolina Dental Association, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and the Southeastern Society of Pediatric Dentistry. He has also served as the SCDA’s Coastal District Chairman for Children’s Dental Health Month.
Dr. Paul and his wife Libby reside in West Ashley and have five beautiful children. They are active members of Centerpoint Church and have participated in many overseas medical and dental mission projects through their involvement in Medical Campus Outreach and Dental Community Fellowship. He enjoys being a mentor to dental students and leads a weekly Bible study for students in his home. A former college and professional baseball player, Dr. Paul was a member of the Clemson Tigers baseball team that played in the College World Series in 1995 and 1996. When not at the office, he enjoys exercising, going out to eat with family, working in the yard, playing and watching sports of any kind, and coaching youth baseball and basketball.
An Expanded-Duty Dental Assistant, Megan Colson has worked exclusively in pediatric dentistry since graduating from Trident Technical College in 2006 and has been a part of our team since 2010. She lives in Summerville with her husband, Rob, and four sons – Brandon, Preston, Easton, and Eli. In her spare time, Megan loves spending time with her family, enjoying the outdoors, and cheering for her favorite team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. She enjoys watching her patients grow up while teaching them how to establish life-long healthy dental habits.
An Expanded-Duty Dental Assistant, Rebecca Pruitt joined our team in February 2015. Originally from Missouri, she now lives in Summerville with her husband Tyler and their two dogs, Lucy and Kane. Rebecca enjoys spending time outdoors, music, and traveling with her husband.
An Expanded-Duty Dental Assistant, Kayla Schlaefer joined the CCD team in August 2015. Kayla is a native of Charleston and lives with her husband Jeremy and son Jace. She has a passion for helping people and especially enjoys being around children. In her free time, Kayla enjoys going to the beach with her family, listening to music, and loves to explore the many restaurants that Charleston has to offer.
Jerri joined the CCD team as our Patient Coordinator in March 2018. Jerri is from upstate New York and has called Charleston her home since 2007. She is a mother to a wonderful little boy named Eli and bulldog named Dozer. Jerri enjoys venturing outside to explore with her son and riding motorcycles with her family. Dentistry runs in her family and she is so excited to be a part of the CCD family!
Leigh Ann started with CCD in June 2016 and loves working with children! She loves going to the beach with her son and family. After graduating from Campbell University with a degree in Psychology, she taught golf for a few years before entering the medical management and business development industry. She can’t wait to see you and your children for a pleasant and fun time at CCD.
Your Child’s First Dental Visit
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), your child should visit the dentist by his/her 1st birthday. Making the first and every visit enjoyable and positive for your child starts at home. Inform your child of the visit and that they are welcome to ask any questions. Giving your child information regarding the visit even at a young age will help relieve their fear of the unknown. You may tell your child that he/she will likely have their teeth brushed, counted, and pictures taken of their teeth. And, that they will sit in the “big girl” or “big boy” chair to have their teeth all shiny and clean!
It is best if you refrain from using words around your child that might cause unnecessary fear, such as “needle”, “drill”, or “hurt”. Pediatric dental offices make a practice of using words that convey the same message, but are pleasant and non-frightening to the child.
At Cornerstone Children’s Dentistry, our primary focus is on preventive oral healthcare for your child. We believe that through dental education of the parent and child, routine dental exams and cleanings, and other preventive services such as fluoride and sealants, many dental problems may be avoided.
Digital radiographs allow earlier diagnosis of cavities between teeth while also reducing the amount of radiation exposure to the patient. By focusing on prevention, the need for restorative treatment is decreased, thereby reducing out-of-pocket costs while also helping your child to have a positive experience at the dentist.
During routine dental visits, Dr. Paul will complete a comprehensive oral exam to ensure your child’s oral health is on the right track. During this time, Dr. Paul will be available to answer any and all of your questions!
Fluoride is an element that has been shown to be beneficial to teeth. However, too little or too much fluoride can be detrimental to the teeth. During your child’s exam, Dr. Paul will evaluate and discuss your child’s fluoride intake and determine whether or not in office treatment is necessary. Here are two great articles discussing the dos and dont’s for Fluoride treatment. (AAPD and AAP)
A sealant is a clear or shaded plastic material that is applied to the chewing surfaces (grooves) of the back teeth (premolars and molars), where four out of five cavities in children are found. This sealant acts as a barrier to food, plaque and acid, thus protecting the decay-prone areas of the teeth.
Before Sealant Applied | After Sealant Applied
Recent studies have shown just how important and necessary sealants are for preventing decay for a long life of great oral health. Here is an article for your reading: (Article from Dr. Paul)
Radiographs (X-Rays) are a vital and necessary part of your child’s dental diagnostic process. Without them, certain dental conditions can and will be missed.
Radiographs detect much more than cavities. For example, radiographs may be needed to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury, or plan orthodontic treatment.
Radiographs allow dentists to diagnose and treat health conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable for your child and more affordable for you.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends radiographs and examinations every six months for children with a high risk of tooth decay. On average, most pediatric dentists request bitewing radiographs approximately once a year. Approximately every 3 years, it is a good idea to obtain a complete set of radiographs, either a panoramic and bitewings or periapicals and bitewings.
Pediatric dentists are particularly careful to minimize the exposure of their patients to radiation. With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental radiograph examination is extremely small and the risk is negligible. In fact, the dental radiographs represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem. Lead body aprons and shields will protect your child. Today’s equipment filters out unnecessary x-rays and restricts the x-ray beam to the area of interest. Digital radiographs and proper shielding assure that your child receives a minimal amount of radiation exposure.
If you have any questions regarding the frequency or usage of radiographs and your child’s dental care, please call our office to discuss further. The team is happy to answer any and all of your questions.
Although new technologies in dentistry and a focus on prevention of dental disease has reduced the number of cavities in children, the fact remains that many children will require restorative treatment for dental decay at some point during their childhood years. Childhood is also a time of dental emergencies that may require restorative treatment or potentially an extraction of traumatized teeth.
Neglected cavities can and often do result in problems that may affect developing permanent teeth. They can also lead to dental infections which may be accompanied by pain and lead to other more serious health issues. Therefore, cavities in both primary and permanent teeth should be treated promptly and appropriately.
The following restorative treatment is provided in our office:
• Tooth-colored fillings (composite resin)
• Pulpotomy (nerve treatment)
• Pulpectomy (root canal)
• Space maintainers
• Management of dental trauma/emergency
For more information regarding restorative dentistry please visit healthyteeth.org.
Dr. Paul is specially trained in a child’s overall oral and facial development. Together we can determine when it is best for your family to see an Orthodontist for evaluation and treatment. Often, early steps can be taken to reduce the need for major orthodontic treatment at a later age. Check out these articles discussing Orthodontic treatment and early detection. (article from AAO and AAPD)
When a child begins to participate in recreational activities and organized sports, injuries can occur. A properly fitted mouth guard, or mouth protector, is an important piece of athletic gear that can help protect your child’s smile, and should be used during any activity that could result in a blow to the face or mouth. Mouth guards help prevent broken teeth and injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw. A properly fitted mouth guard will stay in place while your child is wearing it, making it easy for them to talk and breathe. Please do not hesitate to call or visit our office with any questions.
One of the challenges of pediatric dentistry is to consistently provide effective and efficient restorative treatment in a manner that is safe and comfortable for the child. At Cornerstone Children’s Dentistry, the commitment to providing excellent care and a positive dental experience is held in high regard. Many patients may benefit from the use of sedation to help alleviate anxiety and increase cooperation during their treatment. By offering differing levels of sedation, depending on the specific needs of the child, the ability to complete necessary treatment increases significantly. Dr. Paul will recommend sedation dentistry only when it is beneficial for the patient.
Option 1: Nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”) inhalation provides a safe method of analgesia (pain relief) and reduction of anxiety associated with dental procedures. In this minimal sedation technique, a disposable scented mask fits over the child’s nose, allowing the patient to breathe a combination of nitrous oxide and oxygen. The use of nitrous oxide is very effective in limiting the discomfort associated with the injection of local anesthetic (“Novacaine”) used to numb the mouth. Most school-age children and those with only mild anxiety about restorative treatment will cooperate fully and even enjoy their dental visit with the use of nitrous oxide.
Option 2: Conscious sedation is a technique in which a sedative medication is administered in addition to nitrous oxide inhalation which provides mild to moderate sedation for the young or fearful child. The specific sedative used is determined by the age of the child, medical history, extent of treatment, and degree of anxiety and uncooperative behavior. Conscious sedation medications may be given by either an oral or intranasal route depending on the particular sedative. These medications are administered in the office so that the patient may be appropriately monitored before, during, and after treatment.
If your child needs restorative treatment, Dr. Paul will discuss with you the options of sedation and share his recommendation for making it a positive dental experience for your child. Regardless of what level of sedation is used, parents are always allowed and encouraged to accompany the child to the treatment area. (insert picture of mom in focus)
Children’s teeth begin forming before birth. As early as 4-6 months of age, the first primary teeth to erupt through the gums are the lower central incisors, followed closely by the upper central incisors. However, some children may get their first tooth by 3 months old, while others may not until after their first birthday. For most children however, 20 primary teeth usually appear by age 3, the pace and order of their eruption varies from child to child. See these articles from AAPD and AAP discussing the process of teething.
It is very important to
maintain the health of the primary (baby) teeth. Neglected cavities
can, and frequently do, lead to problems which affect developing
permanent teeth. Primary teeth are important for:
• Proper chewing and eating,
• Space maintenance for the permanent teeth and guiding them into the correct position,
• Permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles.
• Development of proper speech
•An attractive smile.
• While the front teeth
(incisors) last until 6-8 years of age, the back teeth (cuspids and
molars) aren’t replaced until age 9-12.
One serious form of decay among young children is “baby bottle tooth decay”. This condition is caused by frequent and long exposures of an infant’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar. Among these liquids are milk (including breast milk), formula, fruit juice and other sweetened drinks. Putting a baby to bed for a nap or at night with a bottle or sippy cup with any liquid other than water can cause serious and rapid tooth decay. The liquid pools around the child’s teeth, giving plaque bacteria an opportunity to produce acids that attack tooth enamel. If you must give the baby a bottle for comfort at bedtime, it should contain only water. After each feeding, wipe the baby’s gums and teeth with a damp washcloth or gauze pad to remove plaque. Begin brushing the teeth with a finger brush or infant toothbrush as soon as the first teeth erupt. The easiest way to do this is to sit down and place the child’s head in your lap while you gently brush. Whatever position you use, be sure you can see into the child’s mouth easily.
Permanent teeth begin to appear around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until approximately age 21. Adults have 32 permanent teeth, including the third molars (wisdom teeth).
Begin daily brushing as soon as the child’s first tooth erupts. A pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste can be used after the child is old enough not to swallow it. Most children are not able to adequately brush and floss their teeth until at least 7-8 years of age. Until this time, you should supervise brushing and brush for them as well. Children may need help with proper flossing even beyond this age. However, each child is different. At your child’s routine visit, we will discuss proper brushing techniques and help guide the family on proper oral care for your child.
Tooth brushing is one of the most important tasks for good oral health. Many toothpastes and/or tooth polishes, however, can damage young smiles. They contain harsh abrasives which can wear away young tooth enamel. When looking for toothpaste for your child, make sure to pick one that is recommended by the American Dental Association. These toothpastes have undergone testing to insure they are safe to use.
Remember, children should spit out toothpaste after brushing to avoid getting too much fluoride. If too much fluoride is ingested, a condition known as fluorosis can occur. Fluorosis can cause permanent white or brown streaks on the permanent
teeth. Children who are unable to spit adequately (usually under 3 years of age) should use a fluoride-free infant/toddler toothpaste or just water on the toothbrush. When the child becomes old enough to spit out the toothpaste, a small pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste may be used.
Good oral hygiene removes bacteria and the left-over food particles that combine to create cavities. For infants, use a wet gauze or clean washcloth to wipe the plaque from teeth and gums. Begin using a finger brush or infant toothbrush as soon as teeth are present. Avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup filled with anything other than water.
For older children, brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss daily. Also, minimize the number of snacks containing sugar and other simple carbohydrates your children consume can play a major role in the prevention of cavities. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends six-month visits to your pediatric dentist beginning at your child’s first birthday. Routine visits will start your child on a lifetime of good dental health. (article about preventing cavities)
Good Diet = Healthy Teeth Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth. Like the rest of the body, the teeth, bones and the soft tissues of the mouth need a well-balanced diet. Children should eat a variety of foods from the five major food groups. Choose nutritious foods such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese, which are healthier and better for children’s teeth. Milk, juices, sodas, and other sweetened beverages can often be a major contributor to tooth decay. It is best to limit these drinks to mealtimes and to always brush afterwards. Only water or other drinks without sugar should be consumed between meals or after brushing to help keep cavities at bay.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recognizes the benefits of Xylitol on the oral health of infants, children, adolescents, and persons with special health care needs. The use of Xylitol gum by mothers (2-3 times per day) starting 3 months after delivery and until the child was 2 years old, has proven to reduce cavities up to 70% by the time the child was 5 years old.
Studies using Xylitol as either a sugar substitute or a small dietary addition have demonstrated a dramatic reduction in new tooth decay, along with some reversal of existing dental caries. Xylitol provides additional protection that enhances all existing prevention methods. This Xylitol effect is long-lasting and possibly permanent. Low decay rates persist even years after the trials have been completed.
Xylitol is widely distributed throughout nature in small amounts. Some of the best sources are fruits, berries, mushrooms, and lettuce. One cup of raspberries contains less than one gram of Xylitol.
To find gum or other products containing Xylitol, try visiting your local health food store or search the Internet to find products containing 100% Xylitol
The pulp of a tooth is the inner central core of the tooth. The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels, connective tissue and reparative cells. The purpose of pulp therapy is to maintain the vitality of the affected tooth following trauma or extensive decay (so the tooth is not lost early). Dental caries (cavities) and traumatic injury are the main reasons for a tooth to require pulp therapy. Pulp therapy is often referred to as a “nerve treatment” or “baby root canal”. The two common forms of pulp therapy in children’s teeth are the pulpotomy and pulpectomy.
A pulpotomy removes the diseased pulp tissue within the crown portion of the tooth. Next, an agent is placed to prevent bacterial growth and to calm the remaining nerve tissue. This is followed by a final restoration (usually a stainless steel crown).
A pulpectomy, or “root canal” is required when the entire pulp is involved (into the root canals of the tooth). During this treatment, the diseased pulp tissue is completely removed from both the crown and root. The canals are cleansed, disinfected and in the case of primary teeth, filled with a resorbable material. Then a final restoration is placed. A permanent tooth would be filled with a non-resorbing material.
Parents are often concerned about the nighttime grinding of teeth (bruxism). Often, the first indication is the noise created by the child grinding 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, the child will grind by moving his jaw to relieve this pressure. The majority of cases of pediatric bruxism do not require any treatment. If excessive wear of the teeth (attrition) is present, then a mouth guard (night guard) may be necessary. The good news is most children outgrow bruxism. The grinding gets less between the ages 6-9 and children tend to stop grinding between ages 9-12. If you suspect bruxism, discuss this with Dr. Paul and our staff.
the first three years of life may cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and tooth alignment. How intensely a child sucks on fingers or thumbs will determine whether or not dental problems may result. Children who rest their thumbs passively in their mouths are less likely to have difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs.
Children should be encouraged to stop the habit by their third birthday to minimize lasting effects on the position of the teeth. Many children will quit the habit on their own prior to this time but some may need special encouragement. Pacifiers ultimately have the same impact as thumb sucking unfortunately. They can affect the teeth essentially the same way as sucking fingers and thumbs. However, good news, the use of the pacifier can be controlled and modified more easily than the thumb or finger habit.
Dr. Paul and staff are more than happy to discuss ways to encourage you and help your child break the habit. There’s no need to tackle this one alone!
Patti joined our team in November 2019 as our Financial Coordinator. She is originally from upstate NY and has called Charleston her home for the past 24 years. Patti has been in the dental field for over 22 years! In her spare time she enjoys cooking, taking spin classes, and watching her grand dogs.
Meet Tanya. She is a New York native and has been in the Charleston area for over ten years. She graduated from the Trident Technical dental assisting program in 2009 and has enjoyed working with children ever since. She lives with her husband Kyle and their furbabies, a yorkie and a cat. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends out on the water and in the sun.