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Regular Exams and Cleanings
Regular exams are an important part of maintaining your child's oral health. During your child’s regular exam, we will:
- Check for any problems that may not be seen or felt
- Look for cavities or any other signs of tooth decay
- Inspect the teeth and gums for gingivitis and signs of periodontal disease
- Perform a thorough teeth cleaning
Your child’s exam will take about 45 minutes. Each regular exam includes a detailed teeth cleaning, in which we will clean, polish, and rinse the teeth to remove any tartar and plaque that have built up on the tooth’s surface.
Visiting our office every six months gives you the chance to talk to the doctor about any questions you may have about your child’s oral health. Regular exams are offered by appointment only, so please contact our practice today to schedule your child’s next dental exam and teeth cleaning.
Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay and in preventing plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth’s surface. A fluoride treatment in a dentist’s office takes just a few minutes. After the treatment, your child may be asked not to rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Depending on your child’s oral health or the doctor’s recommendation, a fluoride treatment may be required every three, six, or 12 months.
Sometimes brushing is not enough, especially when it comes to those hard-to-reach spots in your child’s mouth. It is difficult for a toothbrush to get in between the small cracks and grooves on your child’s teeth. If left alone, those tiny areas can develop tooth decay. Sealants give your child’s teeth extra protection against decay and help prevent cavities.
Dental sealants are a plastic resin that bonds and hardens in the deep grooves on your child’s tooth’s surface. When a tooth is sealed, the tiny grooves become smooth and are less likely to harbor plaque. With sealants, brushing your child's teeth becomes easier and more effective against tooth decay.
Sealants are typically applied to children’s teeth as a preventive measure against tooth decay after the permanent teeth have erupted. It is more common to seal “permanent” teeth rather than “baby” teeth, but every patient has unique needs, and your child’s dentist will recommend sealants on a case-by-case basis.
Sealants last from three to five years, but it is fairly common to see adults with sealants still intact from their childhood. A dental sealant only provides protection when it is fully intact, so if your child’s sealants come off, let your dentist know, and schedule an appointment for your child's teeth to be re-sealed.
Bonding is a conservative way to repair slightly chipped, discolored, or crooked teeth. During dental bonding, a white filling is placed onto your child's tooth to improve its appearance. The filling “bonds” with the tooth, and because it comes in a variety of tooth-colored shades, it closely matches the appearance of your child's natural teeth.
Tooth bonding can also be used for fillings instead of amalgam. Many patients prefer bonded fillings because the white color is much less noticeable than silver. Bonding fillings can be used on front or back teeth, depending on the location and extent of tooth decay.
Bonding is less expensive than other cosmetic treatments and can usually be completed in one visit to our office. However, bonding can stain and is easier to break than other cosmetic treatments, such as porcelain veneers. If it does break or chip, tell your doctor. The bonding can generally be easily patched or repaired in one visit.
Stainless Steel Crowns
Crowns are a restorative procedure used in pediatric dentistry to strengthen a tooth. Crowns are most often used for teeth that require nerve therapy or are so broken down by decay that a traditional composite restoration will fail.
A stainless steel crown is a “silver cap” that is cemented onto an existing tooth. The cap covers the portion of the tooth above the gum line. In effect, the crown becomes the tooth’s new outer surface. Our crowns are made of stainless steel for maximum longevity.
A baby tooth with a silver crown will still get wiggly and fall out, the same way it would normally. The adult tooth that erupts from underneath this baby tooth is not effected by the crown.
There are times when it is necessary to remove a tooth. Sometimes a baby tooth has misshapen or long roots that prevent it from falling out as it should, and the tooth must be removed to make way for the permanent tooth to erupt. At other times, a tooth may have so much decay that it puts the surrounding teeth at risk of decay, so the doctor may recommend its removal. Infection, orthodontic correction, or problems with a wisdom tooth can also require removal of a tooth.
When it is determined that a tooth needs to be removed, your child’s dentist may extract the tooth during a regular checkup or may request another visit for this procedure. The root of each tooth is encased within the jawbone in a “tooth socket”, and the tooth is held in that socket by a ligament. In order to extract a tooth, the dentist must expand the socket and separate the tooth from the ligament holding it in place. While this procedure is typically very quick, it is important to share with the doctor any concerns or preferences for sedation.
Traditional dental restoratives, or fillings, may include gold, porcelain, or composite. Newer dental fillings include ceramic and plastic compounds that mimic the appearance of natural teeth. These compounds, often called composite resins, are typically used on the front teeth where a natural appearance is important. There are two different kinds of fillings: direct and indirect. Direct fillings are fillings placed directly into a prepared cavity in a single visit. Indirect fillings generally require two or more visits. These fillings include inlays, and veneers fabricated with ceramics or composites.
Whether your child wears braces or not, protecting his or her smile while playing sports is essential. Mouthguards help protect the teeth and gums from injury. If your child participates in any kind of full-contact sport, the American Dental Association recommends that he or she wear a mouthguard. Choosing the right mouthguard is essential. There are three basic types of mouthguards: the pre-made mouthguard, the “boil-and-bite” fitted mouthguard, and a custom-made mouthguard from the dentist. When you choose a mouthguard, be sure to pick one that is tear-resistant, comfortable and well-fitted for your mouth, easy to keep clean, and does not prevent your child from breathing properly. Your dentist can show your child how to wear a mouthguard properly and how to choose the right mouthguard to protect his or her smile.
If the decay or trauma is confined to the crown of the tooth, a pulpotomy may be recommended. When a cavity gets really deep, close to the pulp of a tooth, or even into the pulp, the pulpal tissue becomes irritated and inflamed. A pulpotomy is when the inflamed pulp chamber, usually on a baby molar, is removed. The dentist will remove all the infected material in the pulp of the crown only, leaving the living tooth root intact. After a pulpotomy on a baby molar, the empty space will be filled with dental cement and a stainless steel crown will be placed to restore the tooth.
Sodium Diamine Fluoride(SDF)
Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) is an FDA-approved topical solution that treats and prevents dental caries and reduces tooth sensitivity. It is made with two acting ingredients: the silver component is an anti-microbial agent that kills bacteria and prevents the formation of new biofilm, and the fluoride prevents further demineralization (softening) of the tooth structure.
Treatment with SDF does not eliminate the need for restorative dentistry (fillings, crowns, etc.) to repair function or aesthetics, but is effective at preventing further decay.
SDF is a simple and noninvasive way to treat carious lesions (cavities), and it can be done from the comfort of our dental office.
ICON White Spot Removal
White spots and other discolorations on permanent teeth, especially in esthetic areas, can be a serious concern for many people. Whether the spots were there since the tooth came in or developed later as a result of poor hygiene while in braces, ICON is a minimally invasive procedure that can lighten or completely eliminate these areas. This system is based on resin infiltration and so requires zero drilling and is completely painless.
Many issues can result from having limited function/range of motion of oral structures, such as the tongue and lip. These "tongue ties" or "lip ties" can effect speech, feeding, breathing, sleeping and growth. We utilize state of the art laser technology to release these restricted areas and immediately increase function.
Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas)
Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is the most frequently used method for easing mild to moderate anxiety. Administered through a small mask that fits over your childs nose, it is an effective way to calm anxiety, raise your childs pain threshold, and even make time seem like it's passing quicker than usual. As the gas begins to work, your child will become calm, although they will still be awake and able to talk with the dentist.
At the end of your childs appointment, they will resume breathing regular oxygen, and all the effects of nitrous oxide will disappear, so they can resume their normal activities immediately.
IV Sedation with a Dental Anesthesiologist
We recognize that some of our young patients may feel anxious or apprehensive about receiving dental care. Our doctors and staff work hard to make sure that your child has a comfortable, positive experience, and that's why we are pleased to offer IV sedation dentistry for those patients needing a little extra comfort before receiving treatment. Feeling anxious about receiving dental care should never prevent having a beautiful, healthy smile.
About an hour before treatment begins, your child will be given a small pill to help him or her relax. When you arrive at our practice, our staff will be waiting for you and will escort you and your child to a private treatment room.
Your doctor will gently place an IV and administer medication to help your child into a deeper state of relaxation. Once treatment is complete, your child will wake up feeling refreshed, with little or no memory of the appointment and a beautiful new smile. Using sedation dentistry, we are able to complete many different procedures, including complex smile makeovers, in just one office visit.
General Anesthesia in a Hospital
If your child cannot receive dental care in a traditional dental office, our practice offers gentle and effective dental care to infants, children, and adolescents in the nurturing environment of our local hospital. As one of the only pediatric dentists in the area to offer this unique service, our pediatric dentist has the distinctive ability to understand the specific needs of children who need dental care but cannot cooperate for safe dental treatment. Through hospital dentistry, you can eliminate the struggles and trauma that can lead to a lifetime fear of dental treatment for your child.