Regular Exams and Cleanings
Regular exams are an important part of maintaining your child's oral health. During your child’s regular exam, we will:
- 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
- Take x-rays as needed to monitor growth and development, and check for cavities in-between the teeth
- Perform a thorough teeth cleaning
Your child’s appointment will take about 45 minutes. Each regular exam includes 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. It also gives us the chance to regularly monitor your child's home care and follow up on any issues or habits we are monitoring. Regular exams are typically offered by appointment only, so please contact our practice today to schedule your child’s next dental exam and teeth cleaning.
Sometimes brushing is not enough, especially when it comes to those hard-to-reach spots in your child’s mouth. It is difficult for a toothbrush to get in between the small cracks and grooves on your child’s teeth. If left alone, those tiny areas can develop tooth decay. Sealants give your child’s teeth extra protection against decay and help prevent cavities.
Dental sealants are a plastic resin that bonds and hardens in the deep grooves on your child’s tooth’s surface. When a tooth is sealed, the tiny grooves become smooth and are less likely to harbor plaque. With sealants, brushing your child's teeth becomes easier and more effective against tooth decay.
Sealants are typically applied to children’s teeth as a preventive measure against tooth decay after the permanent teeth have erupted. It is more common to seal “permanent” teeth rather than “baby” teeth, but every patient has unique needs, and your child’s dentist will recommend sealants on a case-by-case basis.
Sealants last from one to five years, but it is fairly common to see adults with sealants still intact from their childhood. A dental sealant only provides protection when it is fully intact, so if your child’s sealants come off, let your dentist know, and schedule an appointment for your child's teeth to be re-sealed or repaired if needed.
Fluoride is effective in making the tooth’s enamel surface more resistant to sugar, acid, and other harmful substances found in the modern diet.
A fluoride treatment in a dentist’s office takes just a few minutes. After the treatment, your child may be asked not to rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Depending on your child’s oral health and risk for cavities, a fluoride treatment may be required every two, three or six months.
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. Your dentist can show your child how to wear a mouthguard properly and how to choose the right mouthguard to protect his or her smile.
"My child grinds at night" is a phrase we often hear. For the growing child, tooth grinding during sleep is a common occurrence and not typically a cause for concern. Night-time grinding self-resolves around 7 to 8 years old, when the new permanent molars grow in and establish the bite. However, if your child is grinding beyond this age and showing signs on wear on their early adult teeth, it may be time to consider a nightguard. For younger children, we recommend over-the-counter mouthguards that are trimmed back to better fit your child.
If your teenage child often wakes up with jaw pain, earaches, or headaches, or if you see your child clenching or grinding his or her teeth, your child may have a common condition called “bruxism”. Many people do not even know that they grind their teeth, as it often occurs when one is sleeping. If not corrected, bruxism can lead to early wear down, cracked teeth, or even tooth loss.
There is an easy, non-invasive treatment for bruxism: nightguards. Nightguards are an easy way to prevent the wear and damage that teeth-grinding causes over time. A nightguard is inserted over your child’s top or bottom arch and prevents contact with the opposing teeth. Custom-made mouthguards are recommended once your child is done growing dentally or after orthodontic treatment when movement of teeth is no longer anticipated.
Crowns are a restorative procedure used for teeth that are broken, worn, or have portions destroyed by tooth decay. We recommend crowns when cavities is too deep or expansive to be adequately treated with fillings alone.
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 can be made of tooth-colored composite, white zirconia, or stainless steel. Each has its own indications for use, benefits and drawbacks.
Crowns are needed when there is insufficient tooth strength remaining to hold a filling. Pediatric crowns are pre-fabricated, and applied directly into the mouth. The correct crown size is chosen during treatment, so that your child's bite and jaw movements function normally once the crown is placed.
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, pain and swelling, orthodontic correction, or problems with a wisdom tooth can also require removal of a tooth.
When it is determined that a tooth needs to be removed, your child’s dentist may extract the tooth during a regular checkup or may request another visit for this procedure. The root of each tooth is encased within the jawbone in a “tooth socket”, and the tooth is held in that socket by a ligament. In order to extract a tooth, the dentist must expand the socket and separate the tooth from the ligament holding it in place. While this procedure is typically very quick, it is important to share with the doctor any concerns or preferences for sedation.
Traditional dental restoratives, or fillings, may include amalgam ("silver") or tooth-colored composite. Tooth-colored fillings are typically used on the front teeth where a natural appearance is important. Our office also uses composites to treat smaller cavities in the molars. After removing all of the decay from the tooth, fillings are directly placed directly into a prepared cavity in a single visit. Once a tooth is treated with a filling, good brushing, flossing and minimal daily sugar or processed carbohydrate intake are essential to maintain the filling and prevent new decay around the margins.
Pulpotomies and Pulpectomies aka "Baby Root Canals"
When a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the pulp and nerve tissue and cause pain, infection, and abscess. It is best to prevent this scenario by treating the affected nerve with either a pulpotomy or pulpectomy, also known as a "baby root canal." If the affected nerve tissue is not treat, infection, pain and swelling can result. This can not only injure your child’s jawbones and render the tooth unsalvageable, but it is also detrimental to his or her overall health.
During treatment, the dentist will remove the affected tissue. Next, the interior of the tooth will be cleaned and sealed. Finally, the tooth is covered by a crown to strengthen and protect the tooth from breaking. As long as your child continues to care for his or her teeth and gums with regular brushing, flossing, and checkups, the restored tooth can last a lifetime or until it is ready to be replaced by the next adult tooth.