Regular dental exams are performed in conjunction with dental cleanings and check-ups are recommended once every six months. Regular oral examinations are the best protection against gum disease, tooth loss, and other dental conditions in children. The dentist will perform a comprehensive dental exam which include the following: checking for cavities, checking for gum problems, evaluating diagnostic x-rays, checking for facial and teeth development, and advising patients on oral hygiene.
Cleanings are recommended twice a year and most insurance companies will pay for these. Dental prophylaxis consist of:
- Removal of plaque: Plaque is a film that forms on the teeth from the combination of bacteria, food debris, and saliva. Plaque can produce toxins that inflame the gums, causing gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease).
- Removal of calculus (tartar): When left on the teeth for an extended period of time, plaque hardens into a material called calculus, also known as tartar. Calculus may form above or below the gum line and requires removal with specialized dental instruments.
- Teeth polishing: Every cleaning appointment concludes with teeth polishing to remove stains and plaque that may not be removed during regular tooth brushing.
Fluoride is a natural substance that helps strengthen teeth and prevent decay in patients of all ages. It is found in water sources, certain foods (e.g. meat, fish, and eggs), and in toothpaste or oral rinses. Sufficient fluoride treatment for kids is important during childhood years to ensure extra protection against cavities in developing teeth. At Teeth R Us, fluoride is applied to the teeth in foam form and painted directly onto the teeth. After fluoride application, kids should refrain from eating or drinking certain foods for a short period of time (20-30 minutes) in order to increase the fluoride’s direct contact with the teeth. Fluoride is 100% safe for children and highly recommended for kids of all ages. A small amount of fluoride prevents cavities and tooth decay.
There are many parts of a tooth and its supporting structures that are hidden by either close contacts or tissues. X-rays are taken to identify or rule out the tricky cavities that can develop between the teeth and are not visible in the mouth and to ensure normal growth and development of forming teeth and supporting bone structures. The ultimate goal is to be able to identify cavities when they are small or recognize developmental issues early before they cause extensive damage, create extra work or have a damaging effect on a child’s oral health.
Your child’s back teeth contain pits and fissures which make them vulnerable to decay because they are hard to clean and susceptible to a buildup of plaque. The dentists can protect these teeth by coating them with a dental sealant. A sealant is made of a clear or tooth-colored resin material, which is painted onto the chewing surface of the tooth. By blocking out the bacteria and food debris that lead to tooth decay, the sealant prevents decay and cavities. The dental sealant forms a smooth surface over the natural pits and grooves of the tooth surface, which also makes it easier to effectively clean your teeth with normal brushing. Our dentists recommend sealants for the permanent molars as soon as they come in, which is usually between the ages of 6 and 16 years.
The use of sedation dentistry may be recommended to ensure your child’s safety and comfort during dental procedures. Sedation is a compassionate way to help reduce anxiety and/or discomfort associated with dental treatments. It also helps to increase your child’s cooperation.
- Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas): Nitrous oxide is given through a small breathing mask which is placed over the child’s nose, allowing them to relax, but without putting them to sleep. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recognizes this technique as a very safe, effective technique to use for treating children’s dental needs. The gas is mild, easily taken, then with normal breathing, it is quickly eliminated from the body. It is non-addictive. While inhaling nitrous oxide, your child remains fully conscious and keeps all natural reflexes.
- Oral Conscious Sedation: Oral conscious sedation is mild sedation taken orally, and recommended for apprehensive children and very young children, as well as some children with special needs. It is used to calm your child and to reduce the anxiety or discomfort associated with dental treatments. Your child’s pre-operative vital signs are taken before the sedation medication is given. The oral liquid sedation medication is administered in the office by the dentist. A pulse oximeter and blood pressure monitor is kept on the patient throughout the dental treatment. The effect of the sedation is to produce a profound relaxation to facilitate a more pleasant dental experience. Your child may be drowsy and may even fall asleep (similar to taking a nap), but will not become unconscious. He or she will keep all natural reflexes. Even with conscious sedation, your child may still fuss during treatment. It is difficult to predict accurately how a child may react to this light sedation.
- IV Sedation: IV sedation is the exact opposite of conscious sedation as the patient will be unconscious during the treatment. This is done together with a certified anesthesiologist. It is recommended for very young children, apprehensive children, and children with special needs. The sedation causes your child to fall completely asleep. When they awake, the procedure will be complete. Note: a deposit will be required prior to scheduling the procedure, and it will apply to your balance.
Composite resin fillings (also known as white fillings) are a type of filling made of glass or quartz within a resin medium that produces a tooth-colored material. They are used to fill cavities, restore tooth decay, and prevent further decay. Composite fillings are BPA-free, non-toxic, and completely safe. The shade of composite fillings is made to closely match the patient’s actual teeth, so that other people will not be aware that dental work has been done. In some cases, parents may choose amalgam fillings depending on the dentist’s recommendation and their child’s needs.
A baby root canal, also known as pulpotomy, is a pediatric root canal treatment that involves treating problems within the soft core of the tooth, which is called the dental pulp. The dental pulp is the soft tissue found inside the tooth, it contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue that provide nutrients to the tooth as it grows.
Pulpotomy are necessary when the dental pulp in a baby tooth is damaged and needs to be repaired. If the pulp is damaged, it will gradually decay if left within the tooth. This is most commonly caused by an untreated cavity that allows bacteria to eat through the enamel of the tooth and eventually infect the pulp within it. The pulp can also be damaged by any trauma to the tooth that cuts off the blood supply and causes the pulp tissue to die.
A dental crown is a restoration that covers or “caps” a tooth, restoring it to its normal size and shape while strengthening it and protecting it from further cracking or breakage. Tooth crowns are necessary when a tooth is broken down to the point where a filling won’t be effective. In addition, dental crowns are often needed following a pediatric root canal, wherein part of the baby tooth’s nerve has been removed. Teeth R Us can provide stainless steel crown or white (tooth-colored) crowns. The biggest drawback of stainless steel crowns is their metallic color. They are ideal for a child’s rear teeth that are not visible, but if dental crowns are necessary for a tooth that will show, they can be created with white facings that look like natural teeth.
Generally, unless we are discussing about wisdom teeth, we would rather not extract a tooth from your child. However, it can be required when a tooth is not lost naturally or if dental decay or trauma results in an infection surrounding the root surface. When a tooth can’t be saved, extraction (removal) of tooth maybe the only course of treatment. The dentist will let you know if a space maintainer is indicated or not after the extraction.
If a child loses a baby (primary) tooth early from either infection or extraction, they may need a space maintainer to preserve the space for the developing permanent tooth. Space maintainer is a combination of bands and wires designed to hold the remaining teeth in position and is cemented in and stay in the child’s mouth. That will allow the future permanent tooth to erupt in the proper location. This will minimize orthodontic problems caused by premature loss of a baby tooth. If a space maintainer is not placed, the teeth will shift into the open area, making it difficult or in some cases impossible for the permanent tooth to erupt.