In Pediatric Dentistry, many of the procedures that we use for kids are similar to their adult counterparts. The very important difference is the extra care and understanding for your child's special needs.
As a parent, you know the extra attention and patience children require. As board certified pediatric dentists, we have the training and experience necessary to provide your child with the expert, fun care they deserve.
Small grooves and pits in teeth are common sites for cavities. Sealants fill these grooves and pits to prevent food particles from getting stuck and causing tooth decay. If properly cared for with brushing and flossing, sealants can last for years. Parents and patients are given care guidelines to help protect the sealants. Sealants are generally placed on 6 and 12 year molars, these are permanent teeth that are meant to last a lifetime.
Procedure: The treated teeth are cleaned and conditioned and then the sealant material is placed in the desired area and treated with a special light to harden it. Patients are able to eat and drink immediatly afterwards.
Fluoride and Varnish Treatments
Fluoride is a naturally occurring substance that strengthens the enamel. Used regularly in small amounts, such as in toothpaste, it helps to avoid tooth decay. The dentist recommends office fluoride treatments for the health of your child's teeth every 6 months.
Procedure: Topical fluoride comes in gels, foams or varnishes.The fluoride is painted on the teeth which helps protect and strengthen the teeth.
A crown is an artificial covering that fits over the existing tooth structure. We use aesthetic tooth-colored crowns for the front teeth that look and feel like the natural tooth and stainless steel crowns for the back teeth.
One indication for a crown is extensive decay that does not leave enough tooth structure to hold a filling, or after a baby root canal has been performed. It is also indicated when the enamel is defective on a tooth.
Procedure: First, we will place a topical gel on the gum area where the injection site will be for the local anesthetic. If the patient is nervous, she may use nitrous oxide before anesthetizing the tooth. She will then remove any decay and shape the tooth to receive a crown. The crown must be thick enough to withstand chewing, which means that the natural tooth below the crown must be reduced. The crown is cemented into place, and the patient and parent are advised to avoid eating sticky and chewy candy or gums that could pull the crown off. If the crown does come off, be sure to save the crown and call the dentist immediately to recement the crown.
Composite fillings are used to replace areas of decayed tooth. We use a filling material that is tooth colored and mercury-free, called composite resin. We do not use amalgam (silver) fillings.
Procedure: We place a topical gel on the gum area where the injection for the local anesthetic will be done. If the child is very young or nervous, she may use nitrous oxide before giving the injection. The decayed area of they tooth will be gently removed and replaced with composite resin filling material. The tooth will then be polished and checked for proper occlusion (fit between the upper and lower teeth).
In the event that a baby tooth is lost due to trauma or because of an extraction, a space maintainer may need to be placed in order to hold the space open until the permanent tooth starts to erupt. Without a space maintainer the teeth adjacent to the space may drift and block out the space needed for the permanent tooth.
Procedure: First, we will take an impression of your child's teeth. The impression is sent to a lab that designs the space maintainer to fit over one of the adjacent teeth and a loop that acts as a space holder. Once the permanent tooth starts to erupt, your dentist will remove the appliance in time for the eruption of the permanent tooth.
Pulpotomy (Baby Tooth Root Canal)
By definition a pulpotomy is the removal of an inflamed pulp chamber due to the invasion of bacteria or decay. How does a pulp chamber develop inflammation? When a cavity get extremely deep, it can get too close to the pulp of the tooth causing irritation and swelling. In primary (baby) molars, the purpose of a pulpotomy is to try and save and restore the tooth.
Procedure: A topical anesthetic is placed on the gum tissue where the lidocaine will be injected. Afterwards, the decay is removed from the tooth and the pulpotomy is performed. A medicated filling material is placed in the nerve chamber, this helps keep the nerve tissue in the root canals intact. After the pulpotomy is complete the tooth needs to be restored. Most often this is done with a crown.
The success of the procedure depends on the extent of the decay. If the tooth should become abscessed an extraction will be needed.