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Pediatric Dentistry

Preventative Procedures

Preventive dental care is important throughout life, especially at a young age

By practicing good oral hygiene at home and scheduling regular checkups with the dentist, your child can help keep her smile bright and healthy for years to come. Here are a few simple ways to prevent the build-up of plaque and cavities:

  • Make sure your child brushes her teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Use Fluoride toothpaste to remove food particles and plaque from the tooth surfaces. Be sure she brushes the top surface of her tongue to remove any extra plaque-causing food particles and help keep her breath fresh!
  • Make sure your child cleans between her teeth by flossing at least once a day. She can also use mouthwash to help kill bacteria and freshen her breath. Decay-causing bacteria can linger between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Floss and mouthwash will help remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.
  • Make sure your child eats a balanced diet and try to avoid extra-sugary treats. Nutritious foods such as raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese, or fruit can help keep your child’s smile healthy.
  • Remember to schedule regular checkups with your child’s dentist every six months for a professional teeth cleaning.
  • Ask your dentist about dental sealants, a protective plastic coating that can be applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where decay often starts.
  • If your child plays sports, be sure to ask your dentist about special mouthguards designed to protect your child’s smile.
Little Girl

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 or signs of periodontal disease
  • Perform a thorough teeth cleaning

Your child’s exam will take about 45 minutes. Each regular exam includes a detailed teeth cleaning, during which we clean, polish, and rinse the teeth to remove any tartar or plaque that may have built up on the tooth surface.

Visiting our office every six months gives you the chance to talk with us your dentist about your child’s oral health. Regular exams are offered by appointment only, so please contact our practice today to schedule your child’s next dental exam and teeth cleaning.

Fluoride

Fluoride

Fluoride is effective in preventing plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth’s surface, which can in turn cause cavities or tooth decay. A fluoride treatment in our 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 or the doctor’s recommendation, a fluoride treatment may be required every three, six or 12 months.

Sealants Graphic

Sealants

Sometimes brushing isn’t 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 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 last from three to five years, but it is fairly common to see adults with sealants still intact from their childhood.

Sealants are typically applied to children’s permanent teeth as a preventive measure against tooth decay. It is more common to seal permanent teeth rather than “baby” teeth, but every patient has unique needs, and we will recommend sealants on a case-by-case basis. A dental sealant only provides protection when it is fully intact, so if your child’s sealants come off, let us know, and schedule an appointment for your child’s teeth to be re-sealed.

Extractions Graphic

Extractions

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 a permanent tooth. 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.

When it is determined that a tooth needs to be removed, we may recommend extracting 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 us any concerns or your preferences on sedation.

Mouthguards

Mouthguards

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: a pre-made mouthguard, a “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.

Nightguards

Nightguards

If your 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 don’t know they grind their teeth, as it often occurs while sleeping. If not corrected, bruxism can lead to broken or cracked teeth or even tooth loss.

There is an easy, non-invasive treatment for bruxism: nightguards. Nightguards are an easy way to prevent wear and damage caused over time by teeth-grinding. Custom-made by our dentist from soft material to fit your child’s teeth, a nightguard is inserted over your child’s top or bottom arch and prevents contact with the opposing teeth.

Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are types of molars found in the very back of your child’s mouth. These teeth usually appear in late teens or early twenties, but they may become impacted (fail to erupt) due to lack of room in the jaw or angle of entry. When a wisdom tooth is impacted, it may need to be removed. If it is not removed, your child may develop gum tenderness, swelling, or even severe pain. Impacted wisdom teeth that are partially or fully erupted tend to be quite difficult to clean and are susceptible to tooth decay, recurring infections, and even gum disease.

Wisdom teeth are typically removed in the late teens or early twenties because there is a greater chance that the tooth’s roots have not fully formed and the bone surrounding the teeth is less dense. These two factors can make extraction easier as well as shorten the recovery time.

In order to remove a wisdom tooth, your child’s dentist first needs to numb the area around the tooth with a local anesthetic. Since the impacted tooth may still be under the gums and imbedded in your jaw bone, the dentist will need to remove a portion of the covering bone to extract the tooth. In order to minimize the amount of bone that is removed with the tooth, the dentist will often “section” the wisdom tooth so that each piece can be removed through a small opening in the bone. Once your child’s wisdom teeth have been extracted, the healing process begins. Depending on the degree of difficulty related to the extraction, healing time varies. Your child’s dentist will share with you what to expect and provide instructions for a comfortable, efficient healing process.

Space Maintenance

If your child’s tooth has come out too soon because of decay or an accident, it is important to maintain the space to prevent future space loss and dental problems when permanent teeth begin to come in. Without the use of a space maintainer, the teeth that surround the open space can shift, impeding the permanent tooth’s eruption. When that happens, the need for orthodontic treatment may become greater.

Types of Space Maintainers

Space maintainers can be made of stainless steel and/or plastic, and can be removable or fixed (cemented to the teeth).

Removable

A removable space maintainer looks much like a retainer with plastic blocks to fill in where the tooth is missing. If your child is older and can reliably follow directions, a removable space maintainer can be a good option.

Fixed

Fixed space maintainers come in many designs.

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 when the back teeth on both sides of the jaw are lost. A wire is placed on the lingual (tongue) side of the arch and is attached to the tooth in front of the open space on both sides. This prevents the front teeth from shifting backwards into the gap.

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.

Caring for Your Child’s Space Maintainer

There are four general rules for taking care of your child’s appliance.

  • Your child should avoid sticky foods, including candy and chewing gum.
  • Encourage your child not to push or tug on the space maintainer with the fingers or tongue.
  • Keep your child’s space maintainer clean through effective brushing and flossing.
  • Your child should continue to see the pediatric dentist for regular dental visits.

Schedule an Appointment

We truly care about your child’s health and happiness. Reach out to get your child’s appointment scheduled. We can’t wait to see you.

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