Pediatric Dental Services in Fair Oaks
Your child's first visit to our office is very important with regard to establishing their oral health baseline. We will begin by carefully reviewing medical and dental histories and taking special note of all dental concerns, as well as any symptoms that your child may be experiencing.
We take pride in creating and maintaining beautiful and healthy smiles for our younger patients in an environment that is lighthearted and fun. We focus on establishing oral health habits that last a lifetime, with education and prevention as our primary tools.
Tooth decay is the most chronic childhood disease in our country. According to studies, children with poor oral health are more than three times as likely to miss school due to dental pain. While these statistics are alarming, the good news is that tooth decay is for the most part preventable. Scheduling regular checkups and cleanings for your child at the dentist is essential for maintaining their oral health. Beyond routine dental care, your dental care professional will help your child establish the best oral hygiene homecare regimen to help maintain a healthy smile for a lifetime. The dentist will also provide dietary guidance as to which foods can be harmful to your child's smile. As added protection against dental decay, periodic fluoride treatments to strengthen the enamel of your child's new teeth and the application of dental sealants when the permanent molars come into place are recommended.
As part of your child’s dental prevention program, dental sealants are often recommended to protect their permanent back teeth from developing dental decay. In fact according to the American Dental Association, dental sealants reduce the risk of cavities in molars by approximately 80%.
While establishing a good oral hygiene regimen, maintaining proper toothbrushing habits, and avoiding sticky sweets are essential for the prevention of dental decay, children’s teeth often need more protection. The reason for this is that the deeply grooved chewing surfaces of the back permanent teeth can be difficult for a child to keep free of leftover food and cavity-causing bacteria. Moreover, young children do not always brush their teeth, as often or as thoroughly as they should, making them particularly vulnerable to dental decay.
Dental sealants afford additional protection from dental decay by providing a strong plastic-like protective coating for the chewing surfaces of a child’s permanent back teeth. They basically fill in the pits, fissures and grooves on these teeth to seal out harmful bacteria and food particles. Beyond preventing the development of cavities, sealants may also be useful over areas of incipient dental decay to stop further damage from occurring.
Applying dental sealants is a relatively quick and painless process. They are simply brushed on in a series of steps during a child’s dental visit and then cured (set) with a light wand. Sealants are strong and durable and can last for several years. The condition of your child’s dental sealants will be evaluated at each checkup and reapplied if the need arises.
The role of fluoride is especially important for children as it improves the quality of dental enamel in their developing teeth and makes their new teeth more resistant to decay. As part of your child’s preventive dental care program at our office, fluoride varnish is applied during their routine checkup appointments and if indicated at regular intervals between these visits.
Fluoride varnish is a topically applied product that is brushed onto all sides of your child’s teeth. It is a completely safe and painless procedure that takes just a couple of minutes from start to finish. Once applied and in contact with your child’s saliva the fluoride hardens. The fluoride component is now absorbed into the dental enamel and begins its job of strengthening the tooth.
Following the application of the fluoride varnish, your child does not have to wait to eat or drink. The only restriction is that foods are soft and not crunchy for the rest of the day. Brushing and flossing may be postponed for several hours. While fluoride varnish can help prevent cavities and slow their progression, it is not a guarantee against dental decay. Optimal dental health for your child involves an excellent oral hygiene regimen at home, routine dental care and eating a healthy diet.
Dental Fillings are the most common type of dental restoration used to replace sections of teeth that are missing, damaged or decayed. While traditional dental materials like gold, amalgam, porcelain, and composite successfully restore teeth; recent advances in dental technology have made a wider and improved selection of restorative choices available. Some of the newest state-of-the-art filling materials including ceramic and the latest composite materials, are not only strong and durable, they offer the most aesthetically pleasing and natural looking results.
Inside of every baby (deciduous) and permanent adult tooth is a central chamber that contains connective tissue, a nerve supply, and blood vessels. Collectively these core tissues, known as the dental pulp, help the tooth to grow and mature before it emerges into the mouth. Once your tooth is in place, the dental pulp provides nourishment, keeps the tooth vital, and alerts you of problems. Unfortunately, cavities and dental trauma can damage the dental pulp inside of a tooth. When one of these factors has involved the dental pulp of a primary or deciduous tooth and there is no evidence of an infection at the root of the tooth, a procedure known as a pulpotomy may be performed. The purpose of a pulpotomy on a “baby” tooth is to maintain it until its permanent successor tooth erupts. This is because deciduous teeth that are lost prematurely can result in space loss for the permanent tooth and other consequences. During a pulpotomy procedure, the exposed or affected pulp tissue within the crown of the deciduous tooth (the visible portion of the tooth) is carefully removed and a special medication to disinfect the area and calm the remaining nerve tissue is placed. Once the procedure is complete, the baby tooth is then restored. Depending on the amount of tooth structure remaining and how much time is left before the baby tooth is to fall out, the type of restoration is selected. Typically, the most effective restoration to seal the tooth and restore function, is a stainless steel crown.
Sometimes it is necessary to extract a tooth. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Extractions are commonly performed in cases where a deciduous “baby” tooth is reluctant to fall out, a severely broken down and non-restorable tooth is present, or “wisdom tooth” is poorly positioned and unable to fully erupt into place.
To reduce any anxiety and insure patient comfort whenever a tooth extraction is necessary, the procedure, the post surgical instructions, as well as any restorative follow-up care will be carefully and completely explained.
Sometimes, due to tooth decay or a traumatic injury, a child may lose a primary tooth early, before the permanent one underneath is ready to come into place. When this happens, the dentist will consider the best way to hold the space left by the baby tooth in order to maintain a clear path for the succeeding adult tooth. While not every situation where a baby tooth is lost early needs an intervention to maintain the space, many times a small dental appliance known as a space maintainer is required to make sure the permanent tooth does not become crowded out of the dental arch or impacted by shifting adjacent teeth.
Space maintainers are fixed or removable appliances that are designed to keep the integrity of the space left by the lost tooth. Simple and comfortable to wear, the type and design of your child’s space maintainer will be determined by our dentist. Once the permanent tooth begins to emerge, a space maintainer is no longer necessary.
Sedation dentistry offers individuals with general anxiety about going to the dentist or fears about a specific dental procedure the opportunity to have a stress free and more comfortable experience. Utilizing safe and controlled sedation techniques prior to the dental procedure the patient is eased into a state of complete relaxation. This eliminates any discomfort, pain, and preoperative anxiety that may be associated with a particular dental visit. With sedation dentistry patients typically feel more at ease post-operatively as they have little or no memory of the actual moment-to-moment dental procedure
Most problems involving the alignment of your child’s teeth and the growth of their jaws can be identified by the time they are in the first or second grade. That is why the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have a check up with an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7. At this visit the orthodontist will carefully examine your child’s bite and assess the alignment and development of the teeth. The orthodontist will also look at the growth and relationships of the jaws, and in particular check for any shifts or dysfunction. It will also be determined if any premature tooth loss, habits, swallowing or breathing patterns are having an effect on your child’s occlusion.
Following this visit the orthodontist will indicate if any immediate preventative or interceptive orthodontic care is needed. In many circumstances no treatment is required right away and the child can be observed until it is the appropriate time for care. Your child’s dental development as well as their prospective facial growth will be carefully considered in outlining the best timetable for care.
Orthodontic treatment for children typically begins between the ages of 9 and 14. At this time they are generally in the mid to late mixed dentition stage. This means they have a mix of permanent front teeth, permanent molars, and some baby teeth. The benefit of placing braces at this stage is that the orthodontist can improve the alignment of permanent front teeth, guide the incoming new adult teeth into position, and utilize the child’s growth and development to best advantage.
Often habits such as prolonged thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and certain swallowing or breathing patterns that can open or distort the bite are better dealt with when care is initiated at a younger age. Interceptive treatment is also helpful when the top jaw is too narrow, not developing in harmony with the lower jaw, or permanent top teeth are behind the lower ones when closing the jaws. Likewise, if a young child’s front teeth protrude excessively or very severe crowding is present a first phase of orthodontic care can be beneficial.
The objectives of interceptive treatment and a first phase of orthodontic care are to influence jaw growth, create more space for crowded teeth, help to correct harmful habits, and improve facial aesthetics. With interceptive treatment the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth as well as the need for extractions of permanent teeth can be lessened. Interceptive treatment can also simplify the next phase of orthodontic care.
When children are scared, have strong gag reflexes, medical conditions, special needs, or are unable to sit for one reason or another, varying levels of dental sedation can carefully be administered to aid relaxation and allow dental care to be performed. Depending on the particular needs of each child, the pedodontist will suggest the best method of dental sedation. There are several options in dental sedation available for your child, including inhalation sedation such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas), oral sedatives, IV sedation, as well as general anesthesia performed in the appropriate setting for particular procedures or circumstances. Each of these options has special considerations, which will be explained in greater detail before your child’s dental procedure is scheduled.
Dental emergencies in children can arise for a number of reasons. Recognizing the fact that children have active lifestyles, means there is always a chance an accident involving a hit or blow to the mouth or teeth can occur. These traumatic injuries can happen at home, in the playground or on the playing field. Common injuries to the teeth and oral cavity seen in a pediatric dental office include everything from soft tissue lacerations of the lips, cheeks or tongue to chipped, fractured, dislodged or “knocked out” teeth. Equally frequent reasons for children to require urgent dental care are painful toothaches, dental infections, and mouth ulcerations. Whatever the dental emergency may be, prompt and effective care is required to alleviate a child’s discomfort and to prevent more serious consequences to their oral health and overall well-being.
Pediatric dentists are trained in all facets of dental care for children and are well equipped to handle a wide range of dental emergencies. They provide skilled and compassionate care, helping children to feel comfortable and safe while restoring their oral health and function.