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Regular Exams and Cleanings
Regular exams are an important part of maintaining your child's oral health. During your child’s regular exam, we will:
- Answer any questions and address any concerns
- Assess growth and development
- Look for cavities or any other signs of tooth decay
- Inspect the teeth and gums for gingivitis and signs of periodontal disease
- Check for any problems that may not be seen or felt
- Perform a thorough teeth cleaning
- Discuss an individiualize prevention plan for your child
Your child’s exam will take about 30-45 minutes. Each regular exam includes a detailed teeth cleaning, in which we will clean, polish, and rinse the teeth to remove any tartar and plaque that have built up on the tooth’s surface. Fluoride may be applied to the teeth to make them stronger and more resistant to tooth decay. We utilize the most effective fluoride available which is in varnish form. You will be instructed to not brush the night of your fluroide application.
Visiting our office every six months has been shown to be an effective way to prevent dental disease and enables your family to ask any questions about your child’s oral health. Regular exams are offered by appointment only, so please contact our practice today to schedule your child’s next dental exam and teeth cleaning.
Bonding is a conservative way to repair chipped, discolored, or decayed teeth. During dental bonding, a white filling is placed onto your child's tooth to improve its appearance, replace areas of decay, or protect enamel defects. The filling “bonds” with the tooth, and because it comes in a variety of tooth-colored shades, it closely matches the appearance of your child's natural teeth. Many patients prefer bonded fillings because the shade of the restorative material is matched as closely as posible to the color of the natural tooth. Bonding fillings can be used on front or back teeth, depending on the location and extent of lost tooth structure.
Several factors influence the performance, durability, longevity and expense of dental restorations, including:
- The components used in the filling material
- The amount of tooth structure remaining
- Where and how the filling is placed
- The chewing load that the tooth will have to bear
Crowns are a restorative procedure used to improve a tooth’s shape or to strengthen a tooth. Crowns are most often used for teeth that are broken, worn, or have portions destroyed by tooth decay where there is little remaining healthy tooth structure. Crowns can also be used on the front teeth to replace areas of fracture or decay.
A crown is a “cap” cemented onto an existing tooth that usually covers the portion of the tooth above the gumline. In effect, the crown becomes the tooth’s new outer surface. Crowns can be made of porcelain or metal (stainless steel). Porcelain crowns are most often preferred in the front because they mimic the translucency of natural teeth and are very strong. On the back teeth, either silver or white crowns may be recommended depending on the extent and position of tooth decay.
Occasionally, it is necessary to remove a tooth. Sometimes a baby tooth has misshapen or long roots that prevent it from falling out as it should, and the tooth must be removed to make way for the permanent tooth to erupt. Infection, extensive dental decay, orthodontic correction, or problems with a wisdom tooth can also be indications for the doctor to recommend tooth extractions. If one of your child's teeth are recommended to be removed, we will discuss different options to keep him or her as comfortable as possible. We will also discuss in detail post-operative care with you prior to the appointment.
Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay and in preventing plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth’s surface. A fluoride treatment in our office takes just a few minutes and is a safe way to apply the fluoride mineral to the areas which will benefit most. After the treatment, your child may be asked not to eat anything sticky or drink anything hot for the rest of the day in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Depending on your child’s oral health or the doctor’s recommendation, a fluoride treatment may be required every three, six, or 12 months.
Protecting your child’s smile while playing sports is essential. Sports-related injuries to the mouth and jaw are some of the most common injuries among children.
Mouthguards help protect teeth and gums from injury. If your child participates in baseball, basketball, boxing, hockey, football, gymnastics, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, rugby, track and field, skateboarding, skiing, snowboarding, skydiving, soccer, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, or wrestling, then it is recommended by the American Dental Association that a mouthguard is worn.
Types of Mouthguards
Choosing the right mouthguard is essential. There are three basic types of mouthguards: the pre-made mouthguard, the “boil-and-bite” fitted mouthguard, and the custom-made mouthguard. When choosing a mouthguard, be sure to pick one that is tear-resistant, comfortable, well-fitted, easy to keep clean, and does not prevent him or her from breathing properly. If your child wears braces or a retainer, then mouthguard wear is imperative. Your dentist can help with selecting the most approrpiate mouthguard for your child, show your child how to wear a mouthguard properly and how to acheive the best fit.
Taking Care of Your Child’s Mouthguard
Similar to a retainer, braces, or any special dental appliance, it is important to take care of your child’s mouthguard by storing it properly and keeping it clean. Here are a few simple ways to keep your child’s mouthguard clean and working correctly:
- Gently scrub the mouthguard after each use with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Store the mouthguard in a protective case.
- Do not leave the mouthguard in the sun or in hot water, as it may melt or become deformed.
- Replace the mouthguard at the beginning of every new sports season. You should also replace your child’s mouthguard if you notice it has become worn and no longer fits properly.
- Do not wear a retainer with a mouthguard. If your child wears braces, your dentist will help design a mouthguard to protect his teeth and his braces.
- Do not chew on or cut pieces off your mouthguard.
- Bring the mouthguard to each dental checkup so your child’s dentist can check to make sure it’s still in good shape!
Our goal is to help minimize your child’s chances of a sports related injury to his smile. Be sure to ask your dentist about mouthguards at your child’s next dental checkup.
If your child often wakes up with jaw pain, earaches, or headaches, or if you see your child clenching or grinding his or her teeth, your child may have a condition called “bruxism”. Many people do not even know that they grind their teeth, as it often occurs when one is sleeping. If not corrected, bruxism can lead to broken teeth, cracked teeth, or even tooth loss.
There is an easy, non-invasive treatment for bruxism: nightguards. Nightguards are an easy way to prevent the wear and damage that teeth-grinding causes over time. Custom-made by a dentist from soft material to fit the teeth, a nightguard is inserted over your child’s top or bottom arch and prevents contact with the opposing teeth.
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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 in between the small cracks and grooves on the biting surfaces of your child’s teeth. If left alone, those tiny areas can develop tooth decay. Sealants give your child’s teeth extra protection against decay and can help reduce the risk of cavities on the chewing surfaces of the tooth by up to 60%.
Dental sealants bond and harden in the deep grooves on your child’s tooth’s surface. 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.
Sealants are typically applied to children’s teeth as a preventive measure against tooth decay after the permanent teeth have erupted. It is more common to seal “permanent” teeth rather than “baby” teeth, but every patient has unique needs, and your child’s dentist will recommend sealants on a case-by-case basis.