Your child's first visit to our office is very important with regard to establishing their oral health baseline. We will begin by carefully reviewing medical and dental histories and taking special note of all dental concerns, as well as any symptoms that your child may be experiencing.
We take pride in creating and maintaining beautiful and healthy smiles for our younger patients in an environment that is lighthearted and fun. We focus on establishing oral health habits that last a lifetime, with education and prevention as our primary tools.
Tooth decay is the most chronic childhood disease in our country. According to studies, children with poor oral health are more than three times as likely to miss school due to dental pain. While these statistics are alarming, the good news is that tooth decay is for the most part preventable. Scheduling regular checkups and cleanings for your child at the dentist is essential for maintaining their oral health. Beyond routine dental care, your dental care professional will help your child establish the best oral hygiene homecare regimen to help maintain a healthy smile for a lifetime. The dentist will also provide dietary guidance as to which foods can be harmful to your child's smile. As added protection against dental decay, periodic fluoride treatments to strengthen the enamel of your child's new teeth and the application of dental sealants when the permanent molars come into place are recommended.
A non-invasive approach to the treatment of dental decay in children and adults that we provide at our office is the application of silver diamine fluoride 38%. Originally used exclusively as a treatment for sensitive teeth, this fluoride compound also offers an effective alternative to more conventional methods of care to stop the progression of dental decay. Since silver diamine fluoride 38% comes as a liquid solution, which is quick and painless to apply, it is an excellent option for children with cavities as well as for individuals of all ages who are unable to sit for longer dental procedures.
When tooth structure is eaten away or otherwised damaged by dental decay, cracks or fractures, it can often be repaired by means of the placement of a dental filling. While traditional fillings were typically composed of amalgam, a mixture of different metals, today’s fillings are frequently tooth-colored. These “white fillings” invisibly restore the form and function of the involved tooth so that it seamlessly blends in with the remaining tooth structure. Tooth colored fillings are made of the latest generation of composite resin materials in which filler particles are bound together when set by a hard matrix material. Strong and durable, tooth colored fillings are chemically bonded to fill and rebuild a tooth once the decayed or damaged tooth structure has been removed. First placed as a putty-like material, tooth colored fillings are carefully shaped to restore the contours of a healthy natural tooth and then cured (set) with a light wand. In addition to restoring teeth affected by damage or decay, composite resins can also be used to cosmetically change the size, color or shape of teeth with imperfections or minor alignment issues such as spacing.
For many years, amalgam fillings, more commonly referred to as “silver fillings,” have represented the standard of care in rebuilding the form and function of a tooth that has been treated for dental decay. Composed of a combination of metals that include silver, tin, mercury and copper, dental amalgam has both the strength to withstand the heavy forces generated during chewing as well as the durability to retain its integrity over time. Although not as aesthetically pleasing as other types of restorations, amalgam fillings are less likely than some other types of fillings to break or wear down over time.
While dental amalgam contains elemental mercury, based on extensive studies and thorough reviews of scientific evidence, the American Dental Association (ADA), The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FDA, and the World Health Organization have all stated that amalgam is a safe and effective dental restoration that does not pose a risk to health. However, individuals with allergies or sensitivities to the metals in dental amalgam are advised to pursue other restorative options with their dentists.
Stainless steel crowns are durable restorations that are typically used as a means of restoring primary molar teeth that have been compromised by decay, trauma, or that have had a pulpotomy procedure. These strong metal caps are permanently cemented in place, protecting what remains of the underlying tooth and preventing it from decaying further. Stainless steel crowns are individually sized and fitted to cover and seal off the affected tooth. As they have a smooth and polished surface, they are easy to clean and maintain. Until the baby tooth is lost, the stainless steel crown allows some level of tooth function and can successfully maintain the space for the coming permanent tooth.
Inside of every baby (deciduous) and permanent adult tooth is a central chamber that contains connective tissue, a nerve supply, and blood vessels. Collectively these core tissues, known as the dental pulp, help the tooth to grow and mature before it emerges into the mouth. Once your tooth is in place, the dental pulp provides nourishment, keeps the tooth vital, and alerts you of problems. Unfortunately, cavities and dental trauma can damage the dental pulp inside of a tooth. When one of these factors has involved the dental pulp of a primary or deciduous tooth and there is no evidence of an infection at the root of the tooth, a procedure known as a pulpotomy may be performed. The purpose of a pulpotomy on a “baby” tooth is to maintain it until its permanent successor tooth erupts. This is because deciduous teeth that are lost prematurely can result in space loss for the permanent tooth and other consequences. During a pulpotomy procedure, the exposed or affected pulp tissue within the crown of the deciduous tooth (the visible portion of the tooth) is carefully removed and a special medication to disinfect the area and calm the remaining nerve tissue is placed. Once the procedure is complete, the baby tooth is then restored. Depending on the amount of tooth structure remaining and how much time is left before the baby tooth is to fall out, the type of restoration is selected. Typically, the most effective restoration to seal the tooth and restore function, is a stainless steel crown.
Sometimes it is necessary to extract a tooth. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Extractions are commonly performed in cases where a deciduous “baby” tooth is reluctant to fall out, a severely broken down and non-restorable tooth is present, or “wisdom tooth” is poorly positioned and unable to fully erupt into place.
To reduce any anxiety and insure patient comfort whenever a tooth extraction is necessary, the procedure, the post surgical instructions, as well as any restorative follow-up care will be carefully and completely explained.
Sometimes, due to tooth decay or a traumatic injury, a child may lose a primary tooth early, before the permanent one underneath is ready to come into place. When this happens, the dentist will consider the best way to hold the space left by the baby tooth in order to maintain a clear path for the succeeding adult tooth. While not every situation where a baby tooth is lost early needs an intervention to maintain the space, many times a small dental appliance known as a space maintainer is required to make sure the permanent tooth does not become crowded out of the dental arch or impacted by shifting adjacent teeth.
Space maintainers are fixed or removable appliances that are designed to keep the integrity of the space left by the lost tooth. Simple and comfortable to wear, the type and design of your child’s space maintainer will be determined by our dentist. Once the permanent tooth begins to emerge, a space maintainer is no longer necessary.
Dental emergencies in children can arise for a number of reasons. Recognizing the fact that children have active lifestyles, means there is always a chance an accident involving a hit or blow to the mouth or teeth can occur. These traumatic injuries can happen at home, in the playground or on the playing field. Common injuries to the teeth and oral cavity seen in a pediatric dental office include everything from soft tissue lacerations of the lips, cheeks or tongue to chipped, fractured, dislodged or “knocked out” teeth. Equally frequent reasons for children to require urgent dental care are painful toothaches, dental infections, and mouth ulcerations. Whatever the dental emergency may be, prompt and effective care is required to alleviate a child’s discomfort and to prevent more serious consequences to their oral health and overall well-being.
Pediatric dentists are trained in all facets of dental care for children and are well equipped to handle a wide range of dental emergencies. They provide skilled and compassionate care, helping children to feel comfortable and safe while restoring their oral health and function.
Digital radiography utilizes computer technology and digital sensors for the acquisition, viewing, storage, and sharing of radiographic images. It offers several advantages over the older traditional film based methods of taking x-rays. The most significant of theses advantages is that digital radiography reduces a patient’s exposure to radiation. Other benefits are that images can be viewed instantly after being taken, can be seen simultaneously as needed by multiple practitioners, and can be easily shared with other offices. Digital x-rays are also safer for the environment as they do not require any chemicals or paper to develop.
An electronic pad, known as a sensor is used instead of film to acquire a digital image. After the image is taken, it goes directly into the patient’s file on the computer. Once it is stored on the computer, it can be easily viewed on a screen, shared, or printed out.
Every year million of cases of dental and facial injuries occur as the result of sport-related trauma. While all sports have some risk of oral injury, it is especially prevalent in recreational activities that involve frequent body contact with other players or the ground, as well as the possibility of being struck by other objects such as, balls, bats, or sticks.
One way to significantly reduce the risk of damage to your teeth, cheeks, lips, tongue, face, or jaw as the result of a sports-related injury is to wear a mouthguard. A mouthguard is a removable appliance made of a sturdy plastic that sits comfortably over your teeth. Typically, mouthguards are designed to cover just the top teeth but may also be fabricated to include the lower teeth as well depending on your particular situation. Individuals who wear braces or have some types of dental work may require a specific type of mouthguard that provides more coverage.
There are three types of sports mouthguards on the market, including pre-formed and ready to wear stock mouthguards, boil and bite mouthguards, and custom mouthguards fabricated by your dentist. Our office will help you to select just the right sports mouthguard to protect your smile. While the first two choices offer some level of protection, the best and most comfortable mouthguards to safeguard your smile are the ones individually designed and customized by your dentist.
As part of your child’s dental prevention program, dental sealants are often recommended to protect their permanent back teeth from developing dental decay. In fact according to the American Dental Association, dental sealants reduce the risk of cavities in molars by approximately 80%.
While establishing a good oral hygiene regimen, maintaining proper toothbrushing habits, and avoiding sticky sweets are essential for the prevention of dental decay, children’s teeth often need more protection. The reason for this is that the deeply grooved chewing surfaces of the back permanent teeth can be difficult for a child to keep free of leftover food and cavity-causing bacteria. Moreover, young children do not always brush their teeth, as often or as thoroughly as they should, making them particularly vulnerable to dental decay.
Dental sealants afford additional protection from dental decay by providing a strong plastic-like protective coating for the chewing surfaces of a child’s permanent back teeth. They basically fill in the pits, fissures and grooves on these teeth to seal out harmful bacteria and food particles. Beyond preventing the development of cavities, sealants may also be useful over areas of incipient dental decay to stop further damage from occurring.
Applying dental sealants is a relatively quick and painless process. They are simply brushed on in a series of steps during a child’s dental visit and then cured (set) with a light wand. Sealants are strong and durable and can last for several years. The condition of your child’s dental sealants will be evaluated at each checkup and reapplied if the need arises.