Topics on this page
Regular Exams and Cleanings | Fillings | Pulpotomy | Crowns | Dental Abscess | Extractions | Space Maintainers | Silver Diamine Fluoride | Mouthguards
Regular Exams and Cleanings
Regular exams are an important part of maintaining your child's oral health and is important step in preventive care. During your child’s regular exam, we will:
- Perform a thorough examination and cleaning
- Discuss home oral care practices and ways to improve
- 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
Your child’s exam will take about 30 minutes. Most regular exam appointments include 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.
Dental fillings restore holes caused by decay or to repair damaged sections of children’s teeth. We offer a variety of dental restorative materials including the white 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.
If your child’s primary tooth has extensive decay or has been damaged by trauma, action may be needed to restore the integrity of the tooth and prevent infection from spreading to surrounding teeth.
When 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 without disturbing the root(s). 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 and a Stainless Steel crown or Zirconia crown will be placed to restore the tooth.
Crowns are a restorative procedure used to improve a tooth’s shape or to strengthen a tooth. Crowns are most often used for teeth that are broken, worn, or have portions destroyed by tooth decay.
A crown is a “cap” cemented onto an existing tooth that usually covers the portion of the tooth above the gum line. In effect, the crown becomes the tooth’s new outer surface. Crowns offered in our pediatric dental office are primarily made of Stainless Steel or Zirconia.
An abscessed tooth is a dental condition in which the nerve, also called dental pulp, has become infected. The infection usually occurs when a dental cavity goes untreated and bacteria spread deep within the tooth. Left untreated, an abscess can progress to a serious, life-threatening bacterial infection throughout the entire body. This is especially harmful to children, because their immune systems are not fully developed.
Signs Your Child May Have an Abscess
- Continuous sharp or throbbing pain
- Pain when chewing
- Red, swollen gums
- Swollen neck or jaw
- Bitter taste in the mouth or bad breath
Treatment of an Abscess
If an abscess occurs in one of your child’s primary or baby teeth, it will most likely need to be extracted. Depending on the location of the extraction, a space maintainer may be necessary until the permanent tooth emerges to prevent the surrounding teeth from drifting into the open space.
If your child’s permanent tooth has an abscess, the treatment options consist of root canal therapy to clean and remove the infection, or tooth extraction. Your pediatric dentist may also choose to add an antibiotic to your child’s treatment plan. This will prevent the infection from spreading further into the jaw and bone tissue.
Tooth Abscess Prevention
The good news about a dental abscess is that it’s easily preventable! Schedule regular exams to your pediatric dentist to monitor and address any cavities present in your child’s mouth. Also, making sure your child follows effective home-care practices, such as brushing twice a day and flossing and eliminating excess sugar in his or her diet, are simple ways you can prevent an abscessed tooth.
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.
While this procedure is typically very quick, it is important to share with the doctor any concerns or preferences for sedation.
Our space maintainers are made of stainless steel and/or plastic and is cemented in to the teeth.
Types of Space Maintainers
A band-and-loop maintainer is made of stainless steel wire and held in place by a crown or band on the tooth adjacent to the empty space. The wire is attached to the crown or loop and rests against the side of the tooth on the other end of the space.
A lingual arch is used on the lower teeth. A wire is placed on the lingual (tongue) side of the arch. This prevents the back teeth from shifting which may result in space loss.
A Nance space maintainer is used on the upper teeth. A wire is placed on the roof of the mouth with a small plastic button for comfort. This prevents the back teeth from shifting which may result in space loss.
In the case of a lost second primary molar prior to the eruption of the first permanent molar, a distal shoe may be recommended. Because the first permanent molar has not come in yet, there is no tooth to hold a band-and-loop space maintainer in place. A distal shoe appliance has a metal wire that is inserted slightly under the gum and will prevent the space from closing.
Silver Diamine Fluoride
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 slowing the development of further decay in that tooth.
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.