Cleaning: Teeth cleanings remove debris that build up on the teeth, irritate the gums and cause decay. Regular dental visits (twice a year) will help your child stay cavity-free. The pediatric dentist will review your child’s medical and dental history. He or she will gently examine your child’s teeth, oral tissues, and jaws. The teeth will be cleaned and polished, followed by the application of a fluoride solution.
Crowns/Caps: A crown is a cover placed over the entire tooth that is made to look like a tooth. Many people call this a “cap.” A crown/cap is one way to treat severe tooth decay. If decayed primary teeth are not treated, the infection can spread in the mouth. It’s important to try to save primary teeth until they are ready to fall out on their own. Primary teeth are important for chewing food, allowing speech to develop normally, maintaining spaces for the permanent teeth, and guiding the permanent teeth into position.
Extractions: Sometimes when there is too much damage for the tooth to be repaired, the tooth will be extracted. A tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth from its socket in the bone. Other reasons teeth become extracted are that some people have extra teeth that block other teeth from coming in or people getting braces may need teeth extracted to create room for the teeth that are being moved in place.
Fillings: Fillings are placed to repair a tooth that was damaged from decay or has been broken or cracked. The dentist will use either an amalgam or white composite filling. Some fillings will wear out over time and will need to be replaced. A filling will need to be replaced earlier if it gets cracked or falls out. You should have your fillings checked regularly which is why you should see the dentist at least twice a year.
Fluoride: Fluoride treatments renew the fluoride content in the enamel, strengthening teeth and preventing cavities. Fluoride is a compound that contains fluorine, a natural element. Using small amounts of fluoride on a routine basis can help prevent tooth decay. Fluoride inhibits loss of minerals from tooth enamel and encourages remineralization (strengthening areas that are weakened and beginning to develop cavities).
We provide fluoride varnish which is brushed or “painted” on the enamel after the teeth are cleaned and polished. Varnish is especially useful for young patients and those with special needs who may not tolerate fluoride trays. Children who benefit the most from fluoride are those at highest risk for decay. Risk factors include a history of previous cavities, a diet high in sugar or carbohydrates, orthodontic appliances, and certain medical conditions such as dry mouth.
Mouth Guards: Soft plastic mouth guards can be used to protect a child’s teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sport related injuries. A custom-fitted mouthguard developed by a pediatric dentist will protect your child from injuries to the teeth, face and even provide protection from severe injuries to the head. We provide customized mouth guards which are more comfortable and more effective in preventing injuries.
Pulpotomy: A vital pulpotomy removes part of a tooth’s nerve tissue found in the pulp, which is the center of the tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels. The part that is removed is inside the crown. The crown is the part of the tooth that you see above the gum line. A pulpotomy usually is done in children when decay has reached the crown part of the pulp, but the nerve in the root of the tooth is still healthy. The procedure also is done when the pulp is exposed as a result of injury or trauma. The affected part of the pulp can be removed, leaving the healthy part in the root.
Sealants: Sealants protect the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, especially the chewing surfaces of back teeth where most cavities in children are found. The deep grooves and pits of back teeth are very difficult to keep clean. Plaque, a nearly invisible film of bacteria and food, collects in these grooves. Every time you eat, the bacteria in plaque form acid. Without sealants, the acid can cause the enamel to break down, resulting in a cavity. Made of clear or shaded plastic, sealants are applied to the teeth to help keep them cavity-free. Sealants “seal out” food and plaque, thus reducing the risk of decay.
The application of a sealant is quick and comfortable. It takes only one visit. The tooth is first cleaned. It is then conditioned and dried. The sealant is then flowed onto the grooves of the tooth and allowed to harden with a special light. Your child will be able to eat right after the appointment.
Sealants can last for many years if properly cared for. Therefore, your child will be protected throughout the most cavity-prone years. If your child has good oral hygiene and avoids biting hard objects, sealants will last longer. Your pediatric dentist will check the sealants during routine dental visits and recommend re-application or repair when necessary.
Space Maintainer: Space maintainers are appliances made of metal or plastic that are custom fit to your child’s mouth. They are small and unobtrusive in appearance. Most children easily adjust to them after the first few days. Space maintainers hold open the empty space left by a lost tooth. They steady the remaining teeth, preventing movement until the permanent tooth takes its natural position in the jaw. It is more affordable (and easier on your child) to keep teeth in normal positions with a space maintainer than to move them back in place with orthodontic treatment.