At NOVA Children’s Dentistry, 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. Rodriguez will discuss these options with you.
Regardless of how well a child brushes and flosses their teeth, food is still able to get into the cracks and crevices of the teeth. It causes staining and eats away at enamel. Dental sealants are typically placed on both the baby and adult molar teeth to prevent the formation of cavities in the crevices of the teeth. The sealant is “painted” onto the teeth and then set into place with a blue spectrum light. Once finished, the dental sealants will prevent the build-up of food and plaque on the back teeth.
The longevity of sealants can vary. Sealants which have remained in place for three to five years would be considered successful; however, sealants can last much longer. It is not uncommon to see sealants placed during childhood to remain intact into adulthood. Avoiding sticky, chewy foods such as candy and gummies may extend the life of sealants.
Dr. Rodriguez will check your child’s sealants during routine dental visits and my recommend repair or reapplication when necessary.
TOOTH COLORED FILLINGS
A cavity is caused by bacteria “eating away” tooth enamel. Once the bacteria demineralizes and gets through the enamel, it continues to work its way to the interior of the tooth – which in turn, causes pain. It is important to have a cavity addressed as soon as possible to prevent further harm to the tooth or chance for infection. A cavity which has reached the dentin (the inner surface of a tooth) will only get larger if left untreated.
When the decay is removed from a tooth, Dr. Rodriguez will replace it with “filling” material. Fillings or restorations play an important role in maintaining your child’s health. Unfilled cavities never go away and get bigger with time. We use the latest tooth colored fillings. When a tooth is decayed severely, a stainless steel crown may be the only alternative.
When cavities are detected, we will discuss the best choice of restoration and management technique we believe is best for your child.
PULPOTOMY OR “BABY ROOT CANAL”
A pulpotomy is sometimes referred to as “nerve treatment” or “baby root canal.” It is performed when untreated tooth decay has reached the pulp but the tooth is still alive and there is no infection. During a pulpotomy, the coronal portion of the nerve is removed to prevent further inflammation and to prevent an infection allowing the rest of the tooth to remain vital and be lost naturally. A sedative material is placed in the area to prevent bacterial growth and to calm the remaining nerve tissue and a restoration or crown, which is prefabricated, is placed immediately after the pulpotomy. Sometimes it can be completed with the placement of a filling, but only when enough tooth structure remains.
Because your child’s comfort is our priority, NOVA Children’s Dentistry offers various levels of sedation, including nitrous oxide or general anesthesia to keep patients relaxed, safe and comfortable during their dental procedure.
EXTRACTIONS AND SPACE MAINTAINERS
Sometimes decay is so advanced that teeth cannot be saved, and inevitably they need to be extracted. Dr. Rodriguez and her team will make this process as easy as possible calming your child and providing gentle care. When the tooth is lost prematurely there is a need for a space maintainer so that it will save the space for the permanent tooth to grow to avoid crowding issues in the future.
STAINLESS STEEL CROWNS
Stainless steel crowns are placed on primary teeth when it is structurally compromised to protect, seal, and strengthen a tooth:
- After a Pulpotomy/Pulpectomy (Baby Root Canal) has been performed
- After a large amount of decay has been removed
- To correct a malformed tooth
- To preserve a tooth with severe attrition/sensitivity
Stainless steel crowns are considered a good restoration to save a primary tooth until the permanent tooth can erupt and take its space. Placement of a stainless steel crown allows a patient to keep a tooth that otherwise may be lost due to extensive dental decay. We refer to them as “silver” or “superhero” tooth to make a child feel more comfortable with it.
In some situations, a stainless steel crown may be placed on an adult tooth due to severe destruction or malformation, or when the gingival (gum) tissues are still developing and would reduce the longevity of an adult crown. The stainless steel crown will keep function and protect the tooth until it is ready for a more permanent restoration or crown.