The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Dental Associations recommends children visit a dentist by their first birthday. Our office is strong believer in this recommendation and has seen the advantages to having children seen at this age. Early visits give us time to identify and reduce any risk factors we may find that could cause lead to unhealthy teeth. During this visit, we provide you, the parent, with the information needed to care of your child's smile. You can prevent costly dental work in the future by knowing what to do with your child's diet and hygiene as well as your own. Your child will also be provided with a toothbrush cleaning and a fluoride treatment.
The pediatric dentist will review your child's medical and dental history. She will examine your child's teeth, oral tissues, and jaws. A dental cleaning, necessary x-rays, fluoride treatment, oral hygiene instructions, dental development evaluation, dietary and nutritional counseling, and patient/parent education will be performed. Your pediatric dentist provides an ongoing assessment of changes in your child's oral health. For example, your child may need additional fluoride, dietary changes, or sealants for ideal dental health. The pediatric dentist may identify orthodontic problems and suggest treatment to guide the teeth as they emerge in the mouth. If dental treatment is warranted, your pediatric dentist will have a consultation session to discuss various treatment options. Your pediatric dentist won't talk just to you about dental health, she will talk to your child with easily understandable words, pictures, and ideas. Your child will be motivated to take responsibility for healthy smile.
Since every child is unique, the need for dental X-ray films varies for each child. X-ray films detect more than cavities. X-rays allow dentists to diagnose and treat conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination. X-rays may also be needed to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury, or plan orthodontic treatment. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable and affordable. Our office uses digital radiographs, which provides a reduction in radiation usually 70 to 80 percent, and at times even more compared to conventional radiographs.
A prophylaxis cleaning (i.e. dental cleaning) can be performed using toothbrush, rubber cup, flossing, and/or mechanical instruments. The pediatric dentist will determine the most appropriate type of prophylaxis for each patient. During the prophylaxis cleaning, the pediatric dentist will instruct the caregiver and child or adolescent in proper oral hygiene techniques; remove microbial plaque and calculus; polish hard surfaces to minimize the accumulation and retention of plaque which will result in an introduction of dental procedures to the young child and apprehensive patient. An individualized prevention plan will be establish for proper oral hygiene methods, techniques, and removing plaque, stain, calculus, and the factors that influence their build-up.
Fluoride occurs naturally in water and in many different foods, as well as in dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, gels, varnish and supplements. When the compound fluoride is used in small amounts on a routine basis it helps to prevent tooth decay and encourages "remineralization," a strengthening of weakened areas on the teeth. Fluoride also affects bacteria that cause cavities; discouraging acid attacks that break down the tooth. Risk for decay is reduced even more when fluoride is combined with a healthy diet and good oral hygiene.
Even if your child brushes and flosses carefully, it is difficult and at times impossible to clean the tiny grooves and pits on certain teeth. Food and bacteria build up in these crevices, placing your child in danger of tooth decay. Sealants “seal out” food and plaque, which help in reducing the risk of decay. They protect the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, especially the chewing surfaces of back teeth where most cavities in children occur. Sealants are made of clear or shaded plastic and are applied to the teeth to help keep them cavity-free.
A baby tooth usually stays in place until a permanent tooth underneath develops and pushes it out and takes its place. Unfortunately, some children lose a baby tooth too soon due to various reasons such as accidentally knocked out or removed because of dental disease. When a tooth is lost too early, your pediatric dentist may recommend a space maintainer to prevent future space loss and dental problems. Space maintainers are appliances made of metal or plastic which is custom to fit your child's mouth. They are small and discreet in appearance. Most children easily adjust to them after the first few. Space maintainers is more affordable, and easier on your child, to keep teeth in normal positions with a space maintainer than to move them back in place with orthodontic treatment.
At times, the decay of the tooth has become so involved to the nerve of the tooth that an infection has developed. This can be of a serious concern due to the fact that it can do damage to the permanent tooth. At times, infected teeth can cause severe infections of the face, head, and neck. In order to resolve the infection and the best prognosis possible, an extraction of the tooth may be warranted. So it is important to restore baby teeth as soon as decay is first detected.
Pediatric dentists are trained in many methods to help children feel comfortable with dental treatment. The behavioral management technique of Tell-Show-Do is when a pediatric dentist might name a dental instrument, demonstrate the instrument by using it to count your child's fingers, then apply the instrument in treatment. This can be effective in calming the patient who may be nervous for treatment.
In the process of establishing desirable patient behavior, it is essential to give appropriate feedback. Positive reinforcement is an effective technique to reward desired behaviors. This will result in strengthening the recurrence of those behaviors. Social reinforcers include positive voice modulation, facial expression, verbal praise, and appropriate physical demonstrations of affection by all members of the dental team. Nonsocial positive reinforcers used in the office include stickers, toys, balloons and even sugar-free ice cream.
Very young children and some special needs patients are not able to understand why they need dental treatment. Partial or complete stabilization of the patient is used to protect them from harming themselves as well as to protect the safety of the practitioner, staff, and parent while providing dental care. The dentist, staff, or parent can perform protective stabilization. We only use restraints when absolutely necessary and with parents permission.
Nitrous oxide/oxygen (also known as laughing gas) is a safe, effective sedative agent used to calm a child’s fear of the dental visit and enhance effective communication. Additionally, it works well for children whose gag reflex interferes with dental treatment. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is given through a fitted mask, which is placed over the child’s nose, allowing them to relax, but without putting them to sleep. The gas is mild, easily taken up through the lungs with normal breathing. While inhaling nitrous oxide/oxygen, your child remains fully conscious and keeps all natural reflexes. Once treatment is completed, it is quickly eliminated from the body after a short period of breathing oxygen with no lingering effects. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recognizes this technique as a very safe, effective technique to use for treating children’s dental needs.
Oral sedation is a good option for children who have a level of fear or anxiety whom basic behavior guidance techniques have not been successful. This is also used for children who do no have good coping skills or are very young and do not understand how to cope cooperatively for the delivery of dental care. This management technique uses medications to calm your child and to reduce the anxiety or discomfort associated with dental treatments. Your child may be quite drowsy, and may even fall asleep, but they will not become unconscious. The doctor will prescribe the medication best suited for your child’s overall health and dental treatment recommendations. We will be happy to answer any questions you might have concerning the specific drugs we plan to give to your child.
eral anesthesia is a controlled state of unconsciousness that eliminates awareness, movement and discomfort during dental treatment. This is conducted on an outpatient basis at a local hospital that has the appropriate facility, staff and physicians who are trained to manage complications and will monitor your child. Precautions are taken to protect your child during general anesthesia for their dental care. This would be the same as if he/she was having their tonsils removed, ear tubes, or hernia repaired. This type of behavioral management is recommended for apprehensive children, very young children, and children with special needs who are in need of extensive dental treatment. While the assumed risks are greater than that of other treatment options, if this is suggested for your child, the benefits of treatment this way have been deemed to 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 even driving a car daily. The inherent risks if this is not chosen are 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. Your pediatric dentist will discuss the benefits and risks of general anesthesia and why it is recommended for your child.