Pediatric Dentistry Services
Getting children off to a good start regarding oral hygiene can ensure that they keep their natural teeth for a lifetime.
We encourage parents to bring small children with them to cleaning appointments so they can become comfortable with the office and staff.
Children should begin having their own routine dental cleanings and exams by age 3. This is important for several reasons. We can help detect poor oral habits in children that can lead to future dental problems down the road if not corrected. In addition, we will counsel parents on ways to avoid dental problems and teach them the correct way to care for their children's oral health.
A variety of treatment options can correct and/or prevent mouth breathing, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting and other poor habits that can interfere with a child's dental development and health.
Even prior to their first dental visit, parents play a huge role in their children's oral health. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents routinely clean a baby's gums before the teeth erupt.
Parents can use a damp cloth to gently wipe the gums in a baby's mouth after feeding. This helps reduce the amount of bacteria that forms in the mouth, and lays the groundwork for regular oral hygiene as the child ages.
As your child's adult teeth fully erupt, we recommend that dental sealants be applied to help prevent tooth decay.
Dental sealants are a clear, plastic coating applied to the biting surfaces of the back teeth that help prevent tooth decay by serving as a barrier between the teeth and food debris and bacteria. While sealants do not eliminate decay, they significantly reduce the incidence of cavities on the biting surfaces of teeth.
Applying dental sealants is painless and easy. The process begins by cleaning and drying the teeth that will have sealant applied to them. Then the sealant material is painted onto the teeth's biting surfaces and hardened with a special light.
Sealants last for several years and can be reapplied if necessary.
Sometimes children's teeth require fillings when tooth decay is present. This is true even in the primary teeth, as these teeth serve several functions, such as chewing food properly, maintaining space for the permanent teeth, guiding permanent teeth into position and allowing speech to develop normally.
When a child has a large cavity in a primary tooth, there often is not enough tooth structure left after removing the decayed portion to place a filling. In those cases, a stainless steel crown is used.
Stainless steel crowns also are used to repair broken or cracked teeth. These crowns cover the damaged tooth and provide protection and strength.
Because they are pre-made and do not require custom fabrication in a dental lab, stainless steel crowns are much less expensive than adult crowns. They are placed in one appointment and can be easily adapted to the child's tooth.
When a cavity is deep and gets close to the tooth pulp, it can cause the tissue in the pulp chamber to become inflamed. In these cases, a pulpotomy often is necessary.
A pulpotomy is a fairly common procedure in children that involves removing an inflamed pulp chamber, sterilizing the area and then sealing the chamber. This can be performed quickly and in one appointment, and is followed in the same appointment by placement of a stainless steel crown to protect the tooth.
A child's primary teeth serve as a guide for the permanent teeth and when a primary tooth is lost too early, it can cause the permanent tooth to erupt incorrectly or drift.
If a tooth is lost early, a dentist may place a space maintainer to do just what the name implies – maintain the space of the missing tooth until the permanent tooth erupts.
Maintainers can be made of plastic or stainless steel and they can be cemented into the child's mouth or removable appliances. The device resembles a retainer and has acrylic blocks or artificial teeth to fill the desired spaces.
Space maintainers are custom-made by taking impressions of the child's mouth and sending them off to a dental laboratory where the maintainer is fabricated. Occasionally, a maintainer can be made in our office in one visit without impressions.