2 and under: Oral Eval Visits – FIRST tooth or age ONE= FIRST CHECKUP!
Many people do not realize they should begin visits and exams at such an early age; however, it is very important for your child to become comfortable in the dental chair, being in the office, and trusting our doctors and assistants. It is very beneficial for your child to be comfortable in the event of an emergency or for their first x-rays or treatment.
This appointment will give you all the tips and knowledge on how to properly take care of your child’s teeth for their age. We perform a caries risk assessment and give parents pointers to reduce risk for decay as your toddler develops.
3 and up: 6 month recall Visits
At the time of six month check-ups, we evaluate for cavities, eruption of teeth and discuss concerns of the child’s oral hygiene habits. It’s important to discuss how and when your child is brushing and flossing. We identify any medical conditions that can put your child at higher risk for cavities. We suggest radiographs (x-rays) every six months to check between teeth for cavities, formation and eruption of teeth. Radiographs also allow us to see other concerns that we are unable to see visually and can aid in our oral cancer screening portion of the exam.
Our team is excellent at showing proper techniques for brushing twice a day and flossing at least once. We give each child one on one time to talk about what is healthy and unhealthy and how to keep a bright smile. After the exam, we place a fluoride treatment that helps prevent cavities. It’s important to know if you water contains fluoride. We recommend a fluoride supplement if fluoride is not in your families main water source or your child drinks all bottled water. We look forward to seeing your smiling face at your next cleaning appointment!
We have an amazing Mighty Mouth Club party for children that are cavity free! Read more about the club, the incentive and the reward! We encourage and celebrate healthy habits of brushing and flossing!
There is very little risk in dental X-rays. Pediatric dentists are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Lead aprons and high-speed film are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation.
Dental X-rays are an invaluable tool in assessing the dental needs of your child. X-rays may be needed to survey
- Erupting teeth
- Detecting cavities between teeth
- Analyzing depth of decay to determine appropriate treatment
- Diagnose bone diseases
- Evaluate the results of an injury
- Plan orthodontic treatment.
Since every child is unique, the need for dental X-ray films varies from child to child. But in general, children need X-rays more often than adults. Their mouths grow and change rapidly and they are more susceptible to tooth decay due to a thinner enamel layer on primary teeth.
What is Fluoride Varnish?
Fluoride varnish is a dental treatment that can help prevent tooth decay, slow it down, or stop it from getting worse. Fluoride varnish is made with fluoride, a mineral that can strengthen tooth enamel (outer coating on teeth).
Keep in mind that fluoride varnish treatments cannot completely prevent cavities. Fluoride varnish treatments can best help prevent decay when a child is also brushing using the right amount of toothpaste with fluoride, flossing regularly, getting regular dental care, and eating a healthy diet.
Did you know that fluoride exists naturally in virtually all water supplies? Fluoride reduces decay by strengthening tooth enamel.
Adding fluoride to water is a safe way to prevent tooth decay. Water is “fluoridated” when a public water system adjusts the fluoride to a level known to prevent tooth decay.
We evaluate the fluoride level of your child’s primary source of drinking water. If your child is not getting enough fluoride internally through water (especially if the fluoride level is deficient or if your child drinks bottled water without fluoride), then your pediatric dentist may prescribe fluoride supplements.
Caries Risk Assessment
Is my child at risk for cavities?
Prevention is top priority at Smile Zone. We work to identify any home care or dietary habits that will put your child at a higher risk for decay. We work together to make improvements and create the healthiest environment for your child’s teeth.
Sealants are a great preventive measure!
Sealants seal out any food and plaque to reduce the chance of getting a cavity on that tooth. They are applied to the chewing surface to protect the deep pits and grooves especially in the back of the mouth where it is hard for children to reach. Sealants are typically placed on permanent molars.
When you participate in recreational activities and organized sports, injuries can occur. A properly fitted mouth guard is an important piece of athletic gear that can help protect your smile an should be used during any activity that could result in a blow to your face or mouth. Mouth guards help prevent broken teeth, and injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw. We offer next day mouth guards, custom fitted to your child’s mouth!
Oral hygiene instructions
Good oral hygiene removes bacteria and the leftover food particles that combine to create cavities. A toothbrush will remove plaque and bacteria that can lead to decay. Any soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one designed specifically for infants, should be used at least once a day at bedtime. Avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bed-time bottle.
For older children, brush their teeth (or have them brush their own teeth) at least twice a day and floss once a day with a fluoridated toothpaste. Also, Make sure your child has a balanced diet. Limiting the servings of sugars and starches and sticky foods that linger for extended times will also aid in protecting your child’s teeth from decay. These home treatments, when added to regular dental visits and a balanced diet, will help give your child a lifetime of healthy habits.
If a tooth is lost earlier than naturally expected, it is very important to hold that space open for the permanent tooth to erupt. If the space is left unattended there can be drifting. This is where the tooth beside it can move forward and block the permanent tooth from coming in to its natural position. Most of our spacers are made chairside so the child will not have to come back to the office for placement.
There are some procedures that we can do here in the office that can lessen the amount of time your child may need orthodontics. One of these things is a procedure called discing, where the doctor reduces the size of the primary tooth to make room for the permanent teeth to move into the proper position with the help of the tongue.
An early way to align teeth during an important time of growth and development. These simple and effective treatment can shorten a final orthodontic treatment.
We offer Invisalign Teen as an alternative to metal braces. Invisalign Advantages:
- Home care continues as normal—Reduced risk for decay
- Diet continues as normal
- Reduced number of office visits
- Can be worn in sports, band and other teen activities
Fillings are the most common restorative procedure regarding children. Whenever a child has a cavity, the doctor will remove the decayed portion of the tooth. Then a tooth colored material known as resin composite is used to fill in the tooth. The procedure is very safe and can be completed in one visit.
Stainless Steel Crown
When a baby tooth is extensively decayed and using other filling materials isn’t likely to be successful, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends restoring the tooth with a stainless steel crown especially if the tooth has received pulpal therapy. After removing the decay, your dentist will fit and cement a prefabricated crown made of stainless steel over the tooth. Here are some advantages of stainless steel crowns:
- Durable but inexpensive
- Full coverage protection for the tooth placed in one visit
- Very little sensitivity
- Less likely to need retreatment
- More successful in children under 4 who do not floss
- Good choice for children who need general anesthesia
Zirconia crowns or white crowns
We use primary zirconia crowns for esthetic, durable restorations in children. These can be used in place of stainless steel crowns or other bonded restorative options. This option is becoming more popular, with demand for esthetic dental solutions for children and pediatric dentistry increasing.
Zirconia crowns have esthetic superiority, coupled with unmatched durability, biocompatibility, and many other advantages. This makes zirconia crowns an excellent option.
We like to save teeth! But on occasion, an extraction is necessary. We refer to extractions as a “wiggle”! Reasons to extract include:
- Make room for teeth that are coming in.
- Tooth decay that has destroyed enough tooth structure to prevent restoration
- Severe fractures
- Impacted or problematic wisdom teeth
- Some permanent teeth to make space for orthodontic treatment as determined by your orthodontist
Pediatric dentists perform pulp therapy on both primary (baby) teeth and permanent teeth. Though primary teeth are eventually shed, they are needed for speech production, proper chewing, and to guide the proper alignment and spacing of permanent teeth.
When a tooth has a bad cavity, the pulp of the tooth is exposed. This can be very painful, because the sensitive nerves and tissue are vulnerable. If your child is complaining of a toothache, it might be because he has a large cavity. In this case, we’ll need to do a pulpotomy to remove the damaged pulp. A pulpotomy is a fairly common procedure for decayed baby molars.
During a pulpotomy, we first remove damaged tissue, sterilize the area, then replace the pulp with a medicated filling. Sometimes, it is then necessary to place a crown to restore the structure and appearance of the tooth. A pulpotomy is usually very successful in saving a badly decayed baby molar, but if the damage is too deep, the tooth may eventually have to be extracted or treated with LSTR.
LSTR (lesion sterilization and tissue repair)
A fancy way of saying, let’s try to save a really sick tooth. When really important baby teeth, like the ones key for maintaining proper arch form and function, are no longer vital, this treatment is a great option! It is similar in time and method to a traditional pulpotomy (treatment for a still partly healthy tooth), but we change up a few steps. We actually leave an extra strong triple antibiotic medication within the tooth prior to placing the crown with the goal of killing off the bacteria causing the infection and giving the body time to heal and repair itself. If you have any more questions about this great new form of treatment, call us or come in. We cannot wait to meet you!
Silver Diamine Fluoride
We use Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) on cavities to help stop tooth decay from progressing. We also use it to treat tooth sensitivity.
Benefits of SDF
- SDF can help stop tooth decay
- SDF can help relive sensitivity
Some children are given nitrous oxide/oxygen – or what you may know as laughing gas – to relax them for their dental treatment. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is a blend of two gases, oxygen and nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is given through a small breathing mask which is placed over the child’s nose, allowing them to relax without putting them to sleep. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recognizes this technique as a very safe, effective technique for treating children’s dental needs. The gas is mild, easily taken, and it is quickly eliminated from the body and it is non-addictive. While inhaling nitrous oxide/oxygen, your child remains fully conscious and maintains all of their natural reflexes.
Prior to your appointment:
- Please inform us of any change to your child’s health and/or medical condition.
- Tell us about any respiratory condition that makes breathing through the nose difficult for your child. It may limit the effectiveness of the nitrous oxide/oxygen.
- Let us know if your child is taking any medication on the day of the appointment.
Outpatient General Anesthesia
Outpatient General Anesthesia is recommended for apprehensive children, very young children, and children with special needs that do not work well under conscious sedation or I.V. sedation. General anesthesia renders your child completely asleep. This would be the same as if he/she was having their tonsils removed or having a hernia repaired. Outpatient General Anesthesia is performed in a hospital or outpatient setting only. While the assumed risks are greater than that of other treatment options, the benefits of this treatment greatly outweigh the risks. Most pediatric medical literature places the risk of a serious reaction in the range of 1 in 25,000 to 1 in 200,000, far better than the assumed risk of driving a car. If this is not chosen, your child risks having multiple appointments, potential for physical restraint to complete treatment, and possible emotional and/or physical injury to your child in order to complete their dental treatment. The risks of NO treatment include tooth pain, infection, swelling, the spread of new decay, damage to their developing adult teeth and possible life threatening hospitalization from a dental infection.
Prior to your appointment:
- Please notify us of any change in your child’s health. Do not bring your child for treatment with a fever, ear infection or cold. Should your child become ill, contact us to see if it is necessary to postpone the appointment.
- Please inform the doctor of any prescriptions that your child is currently taking and any drug reactions and/or change in medical history.
- Please dress your child in loose fitting, comfortable clothing.
- Your child should not have anything to eat or drink after midnight prior to the scheduled procedure.
- The child’s parent or legal guardian must remain at the hospital or surgical site waiting room during the complete procedure.
After the appointment:
- Your child will be drowsy and will need to be monitored very closely. Keep your child away from areas of potential harm.
- If your child wants to sleep, place them on their side with their chin up. Wake your child every hour and encourage them to have something to drink in order to prevent dehydration. At first it is best to give your child sips of clear liquids to prevent nausea.
- Your child’s first meal should be light and easily digestible.
- If your child vomits, help them bend over and turn their head to the side to insure that they do not inhale the vomit.
- Prior to leaving the hospital/outpatient center, you will be given a detailed list of “Post-Op Instructions” and an emergency contact number if needed.