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Preventive Exams and Cleanings
Regular exams are an essential part of maintaining your child’s oral health and are recommended every 6 months.
During your youngster’s regular exam, we will:
- Examine the soft and hard tissue, check for cavities, and the health of the gums and surrounding tissue
- Thoroughly clean the teeth
- Fluoride treatment
- X-rays if needed
- Evaluate the eruption of teeth and bite and if needed, recommend an orthodontic evaluation at the appropriate time
- Review home care, brushing and flossing
Visiting our office every six months gives you the opportunity to ask the doctor any questions you may have about your child’s oral health. We value your time and try to schedule siblings together to minimize your time in the office. At the end of the appointment, we will schedule the following six-month “recall appointment.”
Bonding is a conservative way to repair slightly chipped, discolored, or fractured teeth. During dental bonding, a white resin material is placed onto your child’s tooth to improve its appearance. The filling “bonds” with the tooth. Because it comes in a variety of tooth-colored shades, it closely matches the appearance of your son or daughter’s natural teeth.
Crowns can sometimes be necessary to restore a tooth when the decay is too extensive to hold a filling or the enamel is weak due to hypoplasia.
A crown is a “cap” cemented onto an existing tooth. It usually covers the portion of the tooth above the gumline. In effect, the crown becomes the tooth’s new outer surface and is very strong.
The materials used include stainless steel, zirconium, and white resin, and are performed on primary teeth. When the tooth is ready to exfoliate, the crown and tooth will come out as one unit.
There are times when it is necessary to remove a tooth due excessive decay, infection, orthodontic correction, or problems with a wisdom tooth. Sometimes a baby tooth does not fall out as it should. This can prevent the permanent teeth from erupting in the proper position.
When a baby tooth is lost prematurely, a space maintainer may be recommended to hold the space where the permanent tooth will eventually erupt.
Traditional dental restorations or fillings are done with a white, tooth-colored resin. This treatment can now be done without injections/novocaine or a drill, with our Solea* dental laser. There is no reason for your child to get a shot and be numb for hours anymore! This is particularly helpful for young children who tend to bite on their lips or tongue after leaving the office.
Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth. A fluoride treatment is done immediately after the teeth have been cleaned and polished, and takes just a few minutes. There are no eating or drinking restrictions after the fluoride treatment.
When a primary tooth is lost prematurely, space maintenance may be required to hold the space for the permanent tooth to erupt in the proper position. Without a space maintainer appliance, the teeth can drift and reduce the spacing for the permanent tooth or even block it from erupting. If the permanent tooth is close to erupting, a space maintainer may not be needed. The dentist will make that determination. Your child will wear the appliance until the permanent tooth begins to erupt. It is a simple procedure to remove it.
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 Academy of Pediatric Dentistry 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 a dentist. When you choose a mouthguard, be sure to pick one that is tear-resistant, comfortable and well-fitted for your child’s mouth, easy to keep clean, and does not prevent your child from breathing properly.
We can show your little athlete how to wear a mouthguard properly and how to choose the right mouthguard to protect his or her smile.
If your child often wakes up with jaw pain, jaw tension or headaches, or you see your youngster clenching or grinding his or her teeth, your child may have a common condition called “bruxism.” Many people do not know they grind their teeth, because it often occurs during sleep. If not corrected, bruxism can lead to broken teeth, cracked teeth, or excessive tooth wear.
There is an easy, non-invasive treatment for bruxism, normally done when the patient is a teenager. Nightguards are an easy way to prevent the wear and damage that teeth-grinding causes over time. Custom-made by our team from acrylic molded to fit the teeth, a nightguard is inserted over the top or bottom arch and prevents contact with the opposing teeth.
When a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the pulp tissue and germs cause an infection inside the tooth. When this occurs, a pulpotomy “baby root canal treatment” is necessary to save the tooth.
A restoration, frequently a crown, will be placed over the treated tooth. If left untreated, an abscess may form. If the infected tissue is not removed, pain and swelling can result. This cannot only injure your child’s jawbones, but it is also detrimental to his or her overall health.
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 between the small cracks and grooves on your little one’s teeth. If left alone, those tiny areas can develop tooth decay. Sealants give your son or daughter’s teeth extra protection against decay and help prevent cavities.
Dental sealants are a plastic resin that bonds and hardens in the deep grooves in the chewing surface of the tooth. 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.
It is more common to seal permanent teeth rather than baby teeth, but every patient has unique needs, and our dentists will recommend sealants on a case-by-case basis.
Sealants last for several years, but it is fairly common to see adults with sealants still intact from their childhood. Once sealants are placed, we will inspect them at each regular checkup.
It is still possible to get a cavity on a sealed tooth, such as decay between the teeth where sealants cannot reach. 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 little one’s teeth to be re-sealed.
Nitrous oxide is perhaps the safest sedative in dentistry. It is well-tolerated, has a rapid onset, is reversible, can be adjusted to various concentrations, and is non-allergenic. Your child remains fully conscious.
In addition, nitrous oxide reduces the gag reflex, which can interfere with effective dental treatment. You should inform our office regarding any respiratory condition that makes breathing through the nose difficult for your daughter or son.
Oral Sedation and General Anesthesia
Our pediatric dentists are specially trained and certified to treat with Oral Conscious Sedation. This is sometimes recommended for children who are young and unable to cooperate, extremely fearful, or have special needs. Your child will be scheduled early in the morning, without food or drink after midnight. We have additional staff scheduled to assist the doctor in giving your child a safe and comfortable visit.
In some cases, General Anesthesia is the best option. This enables the dentist to complete all the dental work in one visit. Dual board-certified anesthesiologists and pediatricans come into our office to administer the general anesthesia.
They are “top notch” professionals and also work at Children’s Hospital Oakland. You can be assured your child is in the best hands.
Wisdom teeth are molars found in the very back of your child’s mouth. They usually appear in late teens or early 20s, 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, your youngster 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 by an oral surgeon. Timing can be in the late teens or early twenties because there is a greater chance that the 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.
There are excellent oral surgeons in our community. We will make a referral, if needed, at the appropriate time.