Sealants act as a barrier to food, plaque and acid, thus protecting the decay-prone areas of the teeth. Think of a tooth’s top (chewing) surface as mountains with many grooves. When your child eats, food gets caught in those grooves. Although daily brushing is essential, applying a dental sealant will enhance the ability to keep those hard-to-reach areas clean. A dental sealant flows into the grooves, “sealing” the tooth and reducing the probability of cavities.
X-rays are valuable aids to help dentists diagnose and treat conditions that cannot be visibly seen. X-Rays can detect much more than cavities. X-Rays can show erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, measure the damage of an injury, or help with planning of orthodontic treatment. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable for your child and more affordable for you.
Dental X-Rays are very safe and the amount of radiation from dental X-Rays is very small. Today’s equipment filters out unnecessary x-rays and restricts the x-ray beam to the area of interest. Dental X-Rays are designed to limit the body’s exposure. Pediatric dentists are very careful to minimize the exposure of their patients to radiation. In fact, dental radiographs represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem.
Teeth are composed of many tiny pieces called molecules that attach to each other. These tiny pieces are constantly breaking apart throughout the day and reforming depending on our diet. Fluoride can be thought of as a “glue” for these pieces by keeping the molecules more tightly bound together and less prone to breaking apart. Topical fluoride treatment is effective in protecting children’s teeth and reducing cavities.
Silver Diamine Fluoride is a topical medicine that arrests/stops the progression of a cavity. The fluoride ions help remineralize the tooth while the silver ions are antimicrobial, killing the bacteria involved in tooth decay. The tooth is dried and the liquid is applied for one minute. There are no drills or numbing required. For maximum effectiveness 2-3 applications are recommended.
Composite fillings are made up of a mixture of acrylic resin and glasslike particles that are finely milled. This material creates a tooth-colored filling that is used to restore your tooth’s function and appearance. Composite fillings are ideal for small cavities. It is important to make sure your child maintains excellent oral hygiene to ensure restoration success.
Crowns help protect the baby teeth, providing structure for the tooth. Severely fractured or decayed teeth cannot be repaired with a simple filling because there is a risk that the filling will fall out, break or wear, which can result in more dental procedures in the future. Crowning a tooth also maintains the space, allowing the eventual permanent tooth to erupt properly A crown can either be tooth-colored or stainless steel. For front teeth, white crowns are routinely used for esthetics. For back teeth, stainless steel crowns are used for their durability and longevity.
The Hall Crown Technique is a method of placing a silver crown over an affected baby molar, and does not require your child to be anesthetized and requires no drilling. The affected tooth is simply cleaned and disinfected, and a special dental cement is used to attach a stainless steel crown directly to the tooth. Although the Hall Crown technique does not remove the cavity, it can freeze the cavity in time, so it does not increase in size. Not all patients can have a crown placed with the Hall Technique, but it’s a great option for eligible kids. Drs. Gormley & Gutierrez will review your child’s needs and discuss treatment options with you.
Your child may need to have a tooth extracted. Most often, extractions are indicated due to infection or for orthodontic purposes. The thought of your child having a tooth extracted may cause anxiety for both you and your child. In nearly all cases, the procedure is straightforward and much simpler than other dental procedures. All your child will feel is a “hug”, and most kids don’t even know the tooth has been extracted when we are done!
Pulp therapy, also known as baby root canal, is usually recommended when the cavity approaches the tooth’s nerve. This procedure stops the progression of the cavity and minimizes the chances of an infection or abscess. The procedure is completed by cleaning out the center of the tooth where the nerve lives and placing a soothing medicine. The tooth is then protected by placing a crown.
The baby teeth serve as space holders for the permanent teeth. With the loss of a baby tooth, neighboring teeth start migrating into that vacant space, potentially causing problems as your child grows. This loss may lead to the need for extensive orthodontic treatment at a later age. A space maintainer is placed in that area to hold the space open so that the adult tooth can erupt in a more appropriate position.