At Dr. Farah Khan Pediatric Dental, we encourage our patients and their parents to focus on preventive oral care so children maintain proper oral health. Primary or baby teeth serve many important functions, such as assisting with eating, speech and a positive self-image. These teeth help form the developing jaws and hold space for permanent teeth.
Sometimes, despite proper hygiene and care, things happen. Tooth decay can occur, or a tooth can be broken or knocked out. In these cases, restorative care becomes necessary. Depending on your child’s needs, there are several restorative options. Dr. Khan will discuss these options with you.
Dental sealants are often recommended to offer protection from cavities and the build-up of plaque and debris. Children’s teeth are especially susceptible to cavities because of the many grooves on their biting surfaces. The back teeth, in particular, have the most grooves and because of their location, are the most difficult to clean with a toothbrush. Dr. Khan utilizes the application of sealants on the appropriate teeth to prevent tooth decay and the buildup of unwanted bacteria.
The care of sealants is very important to ensure effectiveness. Frequently chewing gum or hard ice will risk pulling off or fracturing sealant. Additionally, nighttime grinding may also prematurely wear down sealants.
Dr. Khan, as well as the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children visit the dentist once every 6 months. During that time, Dr. Khan will check the health of your child’s sealants and repair or replace those that are damaged.
Dr. Khan offers two types of tooth fillings:
- Composite resins, or tooth-colored fillings, are a mixture of glass or quartz filler that provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small-to-mid-size fillings that need to withstand moderate pressure from chewing.
- Dental Amalgam, sometimes described as “silver-colored” fillings, is made from a combination of metals that include mercury, silver, tin, and copper. This material is very durable and more affordable than tooth-colored or gold fillings, however, tooth-colored fillings are more natural looking.
In a primary tooth, if a cavity is too large to restore with a filling, a crown may be recommended. For front teeth, white restorations are used. For back teeth, white or stainless steel crowns are options. The purpose of the crown is to help provide structure for the tooth and to help maintain space for the permanent teeth to erupt properly while protecting the remaining tooth.
PULP THERAPY (PULPOTOMY, PULPECTOMY)
The pulp of the tooth is the inner, central core of the tooth and contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. The purpose of pulp therapy in pediatric dentistry is to maintain the vitality of the affected tooth (so the tooth is not lost). In the past, teeth with infected nerves generally had to be removed. Now, we can save teeth with modern dentistry techniques such as pulp therapy.
Pulp therapy is often referred to as “nerve treatment”, “baby root canal”, “pulpotomy” or “pulpectomy.” A pulpotomy removes the diseased pulp tissue within the crown portion of the tooth. Next, an agent is placed to prevent bacterial growth and to calm the remaining nerve tissue. This is followed by a final restoration (usually a stainless steel crown).
A pulpectomy is required when the entire pulp is involved (in the root canal(s) of the tooth). During this treatment, the diseased pulp tissue is completely removed from both the crown and root. The canals are cleaned, disinfected and in the case of primary teeth, filled with a resorbable material. Then the final restoration is placed.
Your child may need to have teeth extracted due to cavities or for orthodontic reasons. There are many options for pain management for children who need a dental extraction. Depending on the age and health of your child, dental extractions can be done with the use of local anesthetic or in conjunction with a form of sedation.
If your child is not apprehensive about visiting the dentist, they may be excited about their upcoming tooth fairy visit. As parents to young children, you can set the tone for the dental visit. If you suspect or know that your child needs a dental extraction, Dr. Khan recommends avoiding the use of words such as “pain”, “pull”, “yank”, or “rip out” when speaking with your child. As your child visits Dr. Khan, she will slowly walk through every step with your child in a way they will understand and not be fearful.
If your child loses a baby tooth early through decay or injury, the child’s other teeth could shift and begin to fill the vacant space. When this happens, and your child’s permanent teeth emerge, there is not enough room for them and the result can be crooked or crowded teeth. To prevent this, Dr. Khan inserts a space maintainer to hold the sport left by the lost tooth until the permanent tooth emerges. Later, as the permanent tooth comes in, Dr. Khan will remove the appliance.
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