Your child’s first visit to the dentist is an important time to establish healthy oral care practices that he/she can continue throughout life. This visit is recommended within six months of the child’s first tooth coming out. The focus of this visit is working together with the parent(s) to evaluate the baby’s oral health. Topics discussed during this visit include managing gum pain from teething, gently flossing to relieve tightness that may occur between the baby’s first teeth, and healthy gum care. Having parent(s) present makes the first visit more comfortable for you as well as your baby. A follow up is recommended within six months to monitor the baby’s tooth growth and development.
In order to maintain healthy habits, it’s important for children to gain familiarity with their dentist’s office beginning at a young age. By starting early, children become more comfortable with regular dentist’s visits and oral care maintenance is encouraged. Regular exams help keep your child’s smile as healthy as it is beautiful. Exams include a cleaning, digital x-rays as needed, and instruction on the correct way to brush and floss teeth to ensure oral health and prevent cavities.
X-rays are an important part of oral care because they allow the dentist to evaluate damage that isn’t readily visible on the surface during the dental examination. Digital x-rays allow for less radiation exposure than traditional x-rays, and make the archiving of images easier so that they can be viewed at a future date, or shared with other dental health professionals if necessary. Digital x-rays also provide better image clarity, allowing the dentist to easily show and explain the condition of the child’s teeth to parents.
A sealant is a protective coating that is painted onto the child’s teeth, making the surface of the teeth smooth to prevent food particles from getting stuck on or in between the teeth. By keeping food from sticking to the teeth, the chance of cavities occurring is reduced. This service is performed based on dental health needs assessed during the child’s regular exams, and is recommended around the time that the first adult molars begin to erupt (typically around age 6.)
Brushing and flossing daily at home go a long way to keep your child’s smile healthy, but deeper cleanings at regular intervals are necessary to remove plaque and tartar buildup from places that a toothbrush cannot easily reach. A teeth cleaning includes polishing, flossing and an anti-cavity fluoride treatment, and is recommended twice yearly.
At our office we pride ourselves in our ability to offer great dental health care to children, including those who require special accommodations in order to make their visit more comfortable. To reduce anxiety about a visit to the dentist, our office is decorated with bright colors and a pleasant, child-friendly environment including TV sets to make the atmosphere inviting- not frightening. Our staff is specially trained to deal with different needs, and will position a child differently if needed to make them feel more comfortable, and take extra time to patiently perform dental treatments to ensure your child is relaxed. Parents can also be present during the visit to help their child feel safe.
Nitrous Oxide (commonly known as laughing gas) is sometimes administered during dental procedures to reduce a patient’s anxiety, including that caused by fear of needles used to numb the treatment area. Laughing gas calms the patient, allowing him/her to sit through the procedure for the length of time necessary to complete it, without paying too much attention to what the dentist is doing, which can make the child nervous.
Sometimes, if a child needs multiple procedures performed at once, or has a high level of anxiety, laughing gas will not be enough to calm the patient as necessary. A different option for such a situation is oral sedation, which requires the patient to drink a liquid solution which will induce drowsiness. The solution takes approximately one hour to take effect, and the effect lasts for approximately another hour, allowing the dentist to finish the dental procedure without interruption or discomfort to the patient.
When a lot of dental work is required, or a procedure may be particularly painful (such as a tooth extraction), general anesthesia allows the dentist to complete the procedure(s) with the least amount of pain and discomfort possible to the patient. An anesthesiologist administers medication so that the child is fully asleep during the procedure. By allowing the dentist to work uninterrupted, all of the dental work needed can be completed at once, reducing the number of visits necessary for the patient’s treatment, and minimizing the need for the child to miss school or for the parent(s) to miss work to attend dental appointments. The recovery time is also reduced by having work completed in a single visit instead of several.
Tooth-colored composite fillings are often preferable to traditional metal fillings because they blend in with the tooth and provide a more natural aesthetic appearance. Because the filling is bonded to the tooth, it is not necessary to remove as much of the tooth structure in order to apply a composite filling, resulting in less drilling and discomfort. Composite fillings also reduce the chance of breaking the tooth, as the material is not as hard as the metal used in traditional fillings.
A crown is used when a tooth has a cavity that is too large to be repaired with a regular filling, or for teeth that require baby root canals. Instead of removing tooth structure and filling the space, a crown completely covers the tooth, allowing the tooth to remain, but strengthening it so that the tooth can function properly to chew and bite without being broken. Stainless crowns are generally used on back molars, where they are less visible, unless otherwise requested. Only tooth-colored crowns are used on teeth in the front of the mouth for aesthetic reasons. We use the most advanced, state-of-the-art pediatric technology available for dental crowns.
A root canal is a procedure to repair a tooth that has been traumatized or fractured. The procedure partially or completely removes the nerve of the tooth, restoring the area and keeping the root of the tooth as strong as possible until the tooth naturally comes out. This is an advanced procedure generally requiring sedation or anesthesia.
Space maintainers are similar to orthodontic braces, but instead of moving teeth, they hold teeth strategically in place where they should be, in order to preserve necessary space for adult teeth to come through. Space maintainers are typically applied in the back of the mouth to prevent crowding of teeth and other orthodontic problems that may occur in the future.
Pedo partials are a temporary solution for children who need their front teeth removed for different reasons. They provide the aesthetics of teeth, so that the child can smile confidently, and help with speech, as the lack of front teeth makes it difficult to produce certain vocal sounds.
While sports are fun and can be healthy exercise for your child, they can also create a risk of accidentally breaking teeth or knocking them out. A sports guard is a device custom-fitted to the shape of a patient’s mouth, to be worn while playing sports to protect the teeth from injury. Similarly, a night guard protects teeth from breakage and damage caused by grinding of teeth during sleep as a result of anxiety or other conditions.
Sometimes, when accidents happen or the unexpected occurs, emergency dental care is required to restore the affected area. Emergency care is required for situations such as broken teeth, infected gums, swelling, dental pain, sores in mouth, or a tooth getting knocked out. Under these circumstances, special care is taken to repair the damage and provide relief from pain.