Pediatric Dentist Common Procedures

Regular Exams and Cleanings

common-proceduresRegular exams are an important part of maintaining your child’s oral health. During a regular exam, we will:

  • Look for cavities or any other signs of tooth decay
  • Inspect the teeth and gums for gingivitis and signs of periodontal disease
  • Provide a thorough teeth cleaning
  • Check for any problems that can’t easily be seen or felt

The regular exam will take about 30 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 has built up on the tooth’s surface.

Visiting our office every six months gives you the chance to talk 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.


Bonding

bondingBonding is a conservative way to repair slightly chipped, discolored, or crooked teeth. During dental bonding, a white filling is placed onto your tooth to improve its appearance. The filling “bonds” with your tooth, and because it comes in a variety of tooth-colored shades, it closely matches the appearance of your natural teeth.

Tooth bonding also can be used for tooth fillings instead of amalgam fillings. Many patients prefer bonded fillings because the white color is much less noticeable than the silver amalgam fillings. Bonding fillings can be used on front and back teeth depending on the location and extent of tooth decay.

Bonding is less expensive than other cosmetic treatments and usually can 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 generally can be easily patched or repaired in one visit.


Crowns for Children

crownsSometimes we have a decay on a “baby” tooth that has been there for a long time. The decay can destroy a significant amount of tooth structure. When this happens a filling is not the best choice to restore the tooth. For these cases we have preformed, stainless steel crowns specially designed by 3M for “baby” teeth.

NuSmileCrowns-before-afterStainless steel crowns have proven to be a very succesful restoration for large cavities on primary teeth. They’ll last as long as the remaining for the primary tooth would have lasted and their failure rate is very low.

If an anterior primary tooth needs a crown, we do have esthetic alternatives. We use the Nu-Smile Pediatric Crowns, for those patients that have concerns about the social and psychological impact of the “stainless steel smile”.


Digital X-Rays

digital-xrayUsing the most advanced dental technology possible is just as important as staying up-to-date on the latest treatment techniques. Because our practice is dedicated to providing your child with the safest and most convenient treatment options available, we utilize advanced digital X-ray technology in our office.

Is a digital X-ray really safer?

Because we care about your child’s entire body’s health and well-being, we believe that reducing the amount of radiation exposure is extremely important. Although the amount of radiation used in dental X-rays is very small, the effect is cumulative, so all radiation counts. Digital X-rays can reduce your child’s exposure to radiation by up to 80%!

What are the advantages of digital X-rays?

  • We want your little one to be as comfortable as possible during their appointment, and digital X-rays eliminate the need to bite down on a sharp piece of film encased in plastic.
  • There is no need to wait for the X-ray film to be developed before it can be viewed, so the entire checkup can be a lot shorter.
  • The digital images can be enlarged and manipulated, giving the doctor a clear, more detailed look at your child’s teeth.
  • Because your child can see the image enlarged on a screen, they can better understand why taking care of their teeth is important.
  • It’s better for the earth! There is no need to use harmful chemicals to process film.

Our practice is focused on making your child’s dental experience as comfortable as possible. At their next appointment, we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.


Extractions

extractionsThere 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 and jaw at risk of decay, so your doctor may recommend removal and replacement with a bridge or implant. 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 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 your jawbone in a “tooth socket,” and your tooth is held in that socket by a ligament. In order to extract a tooth, your 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 your doctor any concerns or preferences for sedation.

Once a tooth has been removed, neighboring teeth may shift, causing problems with chewing or with your jaw joint function. To avoid these complications, your dentist may recommend that you replace the extracted tooth.


Fillings

fillingsTraditional dental restoratives, or fillings, may include gold, porcelain, and composite. The strength and durability of traditional dental materials continue to make them useful for situations where restored teeth must withstand extreme forces that result from chewing, such as in the back of the mouth.

Newer dental fillings include ceramic and plastic compounds that mimic the appearance of natural teeth. These compounds, often called composite resins, are usually used on the front teeth where a natural appearance is important, as well as on the back teeth depending on the location and extent of the tooth decay.

What’s Right for Your Child?

Several factors influence the performance, durability, longevity and expense of dental restorations, including:

  • The components used in the filling material
  • The amount of tooth structure remaining
  • Where and how the filling is placed
  • The chewing load that the tooth will have to bear
  • The length and number of visits needed to prepare and adjust the restored tooth.

Before your child’s treatment begins, the doctor will discuss with you all of your options, and help you choose the best filling for your child’s particular case. To help you prepare for this discussion it may be helpful to understand the two basic types of dental fillings – direct and indirect.

  • Direct fillings are fillings placed immediately into a prepared cavity in a single visit. They include glass ionomers, resin ionomers, and composite (resin) fillings. The dentist prepares the tooth, places the filling, and adjusts it in just one appointment.
  • Indirect fillings generally require two or more visits. They include inlays, onlays, veneers, crowns, and bridges fabricated with gold, base metal alloys, ceramics, or composites. During the first visit, the dentist prepares the tooth and makes an impression of the area to be restored. The dentist then places a temporary covering over the prepared tooth. The impression is sent to a dental laboratory which creates the dental restoration. At the next appointment, the dentist cements the restoration into the prepared cavity and adjusts it as needed.

Fluoride

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 your dentist’s office takes just a few minutes. After the treatment, patients 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 oral health or your doctor’s recommendation, you may be required to have a fluoride treatment every three, six, or 12 months.


Mouthguards

mouthguardWhether you wear braces or not, protecting your child’s smile while playing sports is essential. Sports related injuries to the mouth and jaw are some of the most common injuries received by athletes. Our goal is to help minimize your child’s chances of a sports related injury.

Mouthguards help protect teeth and gums from injury. The American Dental Association recommends the use of a mouthguard if your child participates in basketball, boxing, hockey, football, gymnastics, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, rugby, track and field, skateboarding, skiing and snowboarding, skydiving, soccer, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting or wrestling. ,/

Types of mouthguards

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 your dentist. When choosing a mouthguard, be sure to pick one that is tear-resistant, comfortable and well fitted for your child’s mouth, easy to keep clean, and does not prevent him from breathing properly. If he wears braces or a retainer, it is imperative for him to wear a mouthguard. Your dentist can show your child how to wear a mouthguard properly and how to choose the right mouthguard to protect his smile.

Taking care of your mouthguard

Similar to a retainer, braces, or any other special dental appliance, it is important to take care of your child’s mouthguard by storing it properly and keeping it clean, as well as knowing when to replace an old mouthguard with a new one. Here are a few simple ways to keep your child’s mouthguard clean and working correctly:

  • Gently scrub the mouthguard after each use with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Store the mouthguard in a protective case.
  • Do not leave the mouthguard in the sun or in hot water, as it may melt or become deformed.
  • Replace the mouthguard at the beginning of every new sports season. You should also replace your child’s mouthguard if you notice it has become worn and not longer fits properly.
  • Do not wear a retainer with a mouthguard. If your child wears braces, your dentist will help design a mouthguard to protect his teeth and his braces.
  • Do no chew on or cut pieces off of your mouthguard. Mouthguards come in different shapes and sizes, so ask your dentist which is best for your child.
  • Bring the mouthguard to each dental checkup and the dentist can check to make sure it’s still in good shape!

Sealants

sealantsSometimes 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 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 the tooth’s surface. When a tooth is sealed, the tiny grooves become smooth, and are less likely to harbor plaque. With sealants, brushing becomes easier and more effective against tooth decay.

Sealants are typically applied to children’s teeth as a preventive measure after the permanent teeth have erupted as a way to prevent tooth decay. It is more common to seal “permanent” teeth rather than “baby” teeth, but every patient has unique needs, and the dentist will recommend sealants on a case-by-case basis.

Sealants last from three to five years, although 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 the dentist know, and schedule an appointment for your child’s teeth to be re-sealed.


Space Maintainers

space-maintainersSometimes a primary tooth is lost before the permanent tooth beneath it is ready to erupt. The most common causes for this are cavities and injuries. If your child loses a tooth prematurely we may recommend a space maintainer. A space maintainer is an appliance that holds open the space left by the lost tooth.The space maintainer helps prevent the nearby teeth from shifting into the vacant space. If this happens, when the permanent tooth is ready to erupt may not have enough room or may erupt in a wrong position.Once the spacer is in place, the eruption of the permanent tooth is monitored and when the time is right, the spacer is removed.


Wisdom Teeth

wisdom-teethWisdom teeth are types of molars found in the very back of your mouth. These teeth usually appear in late teens or early twenties but may become impacted (fail to erupt) due to lack of room in the jaw or angle of entry. When a wisdom tooth is impacted, it may need to be removed. If it is not removed, you may develop gum tenderness, swelling, or even severe pain. Impacted wisdom teeth that are partially or fully erupted tend to be quite difficult to clean and are susceptible to tooth decay, recurring infections, and even gum disease.

Wisdom teeth are typically removed in the late teens or early twenties because there is a greater chance that the teeth’s roots have not fully formed and the bone surrounding the teeth is less dense. These two factors can make extraction easier, as well as making the recovery time much shorter.

In order to remove a wisdom tooth, your dentist first needs to numb the area around the tooth with a local anesthetic. Since the impacted tooth may still be under the gums and imbedded in your jaw bone, your dentist will need to remove a portion of the covering bone to extract the tooth. In order to minimize the amount of bone that is removed with the tooth, your dentist will often “section” your wisdom tooth so that each piece can be removed through a small opening in the bone. Once your wisdom teeth have been extracted, the healing process begins. Healing time varies depending on the degree of difficulty related to the extraction. Your dentist will share with you what to expect and provide instructions for a comfortable, efficient healing process.

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