We love seeing babies and toddlers to establish their dental home early! At this visit we give parents some tips on how to take good care of their child’s teeth. We also do an exam (usually while your child sits on your lap), and paint on a fluoride varnish to help strengthen the teeth and protect from cavities. Usually xrays and a spin brush cleaning come later (unless the dentist sees a specific concern). We know that little ones might fuss and wiggle. This is normal (the same as if their doctor were trying to look at their ears, etc.).
During a regular checkup, the dentist will do an exam to:
- look for cavities (or any other early signs of tooth decay or problems)
- inspect the gums
- check your child’s bite
- look for any mouth irregularities
- take/evaluate xrays if necessary
Cleanings by a dental professional are important to remove any plaque that is not removed during normal home brushing and flossing. We use a disclosing solution to show where plaque is prominent. Sometimes special dental instruments are needed to remove hardened plaque and tarter which contribute to tooth decay. Cleanings also give our dental team the opportunity to review brushing and flossing techniques with your child and ensure that they are brushing and flossing properly at home.
Fluoride treatments help strengthen the outer layer of teeth, providing extra protection against cavities, when done at regular checkups. Fluoride varnish (done for most of our younger patients) is a sticky, whitish paint that sets quickly when applied to children’s teeth using a soft brush. The varnish has a fruity flavor. A foam option is also provided for many of our teenage patients.
Xrays are an important part of the dental exam. Without them, certain dental conditions can be missed. Xrays allow the dentist to:
- diagnose and treat health conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical exam (such as cavities between teeth)
- see the start of very small cavities (giving warning to parents about potential future treatment)
- see erupting teeth and note any misalignments of teeth
- evaluate the results of an injury
- see any future abnormalities (for example, any extra or missing teeth)
Our office is particularly careful to minimize the exposure of our patients to radiation. With contemporary safeguards, such as our digital sensors and proper shielding, the amount of radiation received from a dental xray is extremely low.
Before Sealant Applied
After Sealant Applied
Sealants are tooth colored protective coatings that are applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. Our office recommends sealants for 6 and 12 year old permanent molars (the teeth kids keep their whole life!). This is where most cavities in children are found. Sealants act as a barrier to food, plaque, and acidity. They have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by nearly 80% in molars!
Tooth colored fillings help restore the natural appearance of decayed teeth. Because they blend well, they usually allow teeth to look natural when children laugh, talk, and smile. Because these fillings bond to teeth with adhesives, the teeth must remain dry during treatment for them to be successful and long lasting. In certain circumstances (such as a wet environment), it may not be possible to place these fillings. Other options include silver fillings, or use of an interim (temporary) tooth colored material.
If the top front teeth require treatment (due to cavities or trauma), our office offers natural looking white options. One of our options include zirconia crowns, designed to look and function just like natural teeth. The dentist can discuss if this is a good option for your child. Our office does NOT do silver crowned front teeth.
Dental crowns (caps) for baby teeth are tooth-shaped coverings cemented to the tooth underneath for the purpose of restoring the tooth to its original shape and function. Usually caps are used for severely decayed teeth (teeth with very large cavities). Sometimes these teeth also may require a root canal (pulpotomy) treatment. Baby teeth with crowns fall out normally (just like untreated teeth). Our office offers a silver and white option. We can discuss if your child is a candidate for this white option for back teeth.
A pulpotomy is a procedure used when the cavity in a tooth reaches the nerve (usually when a child has a toothache and the tooth can be saved). During this procedure, the infected part of the nerve tissue is removed to prevent further inflammation and spread of the cavity. A medicine is then placed in the tooth to calm the nerve. After this treatment, your child’s tooth is restored with a crown (cap) to restore its normal chewing and function. Most teeth with very large cavities respond well to this treatment. The risk of abscess/infection is slightly higher for these teeth and can result in early loss of the tooth. Our office attempts to save any baby teeth which we feel have a good prognosis.
Our office takes out very badly decayed or infected teeth when necessary. We usually use nitrous oxide for extractions. For some patients, a greater sedation option such as IV sedation or general anesthesia, may be needed, especially if the tooth has long roots or the child is very young.
Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) is an antibiotic liquid. SDF drastically diminishes further tooth decay. SDF stains cavities dark and frequent applications may be necessary. This may be a good option for some very young children with one or two teeth that show early signs of tooth decay.
Our office offers three types of sedation: laughing gas, IV sedation, and general anesthesia. Please see Sedation for further information on these three options.
We know that dental injuries and emergencies can be stressful for both parents and children. If your child experiences a dental emergency, please call our office so we can assist you. We make every effort to accommodate these appointments quickly into our schedule.
Space maintainers help keep the space open for an adult tooth if the baby tooth has been lost too early. These custom appliances are usually made of a band(s) and wire that are specially fit to your child’s mouth. If your child has lost a baby tooth early, the dentist will discuss this option based on their age, cooperation level, and future orthodontic needs.
A custom fit mouthguard offers significant protection against sports-related injuries. Mouth guards help prevent broken teeth and reduce injuries to the lips, gums, tongue, face, and jaw. A custom fit mouth guard will stay in place while your child is wearing it, making it easy for them to talk and breathe. Please discuss this option with the dentist if your child is an athlete in a contact sport.
Our office offers custom whitening trays with professional strength bleaching gel. Please let us know if your teenager/young adult is interested! We usually suggest over-the-counter methods first (special toothpastes and whitening strips). If this does not give the desired results, we would be happy to discuss this option.
Our office displays recently released animated movies on flat screen TVs above our treatment areas to help keep appointments fun. This helps make children feel comfortable while watching their favorite cartoon. Please let us know if your child has a favorite movie to enjoy while they are at our office.
We are happy to provide consults and second opinions. Please bring any xrays with you.