Pediatric dentistry is a specialized branch of dentistry that focuses on the oral health of children from infancy through adolescence. Pediatric dentists have the training and experience to provide a variety of dental services to children, including preventive care, restorative care, and orthodontic care.
Here are five of the most common pediatric dental procedures:
Dental fillings are used to repair teeth that have been damaged by decay or injury. Fillings can be made of a variety of materials, including silver amalgam, composite resin, and glass ionomer cement.
Pediatric dentists typically use composite resin fillings for children because they are tooth-colored and can be matched to the natural color of the child's teeth. Composite resin fillings are also less likely to cause allergic reactions than silver tooth fillings.
To place a filling, the pediatric dentist will first numb the affected tooth. Then, they will remove the decayed or damaged portion of the tooth and clean the area. Finally, they will place the filling material in the tooth and shape it to match the surrounding teeth.
Dental cleanings, also known as prophylaxis, are preventive dental procedures that remove plaque and tartar from the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that can form on the teeth and cause tooth decay and gum disease. Tartar is a hardened form of plaque that can only be removed by a dental professional.
Pediatric dentists recommend that children have their teeth cleaned twice a year, just like adults. During a dental cleaning, the pediatric hygienist will use a variety of tools to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth. They may also floss the child's teeth and apply a fluoride treatment.
Fluoride is a mineral that helps to strengthen the tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay. Fluoride treatments can be applied in a variety of ways, including gels, varnishes, and rinses.
Dental crowns are caps that are placed over teeth to protect them from further damage. Crowns can be made of a variety of materials, including porcelain, metal, and zirconia.
Pediatric dentists may recommend dental crowns for children who have teeth that are severely decayed, damaged, or misshapen. Crowns can also be used to protect teeth that have had root canals.
To place a crown, the pediatric dentist will first prepare the tooth by removing any decayed or damaged portion of the tooth. Then, they will take an impression of the tooth so that the crown can be custom-made. Once the metal, zirconia, or porcelain dental crown is ready, the pediatric dentist will cement it onto the tooth.
A root canal is a procedure that is used to treat a tooth that has become infected. The infection can be caused by bacteria that enter the tooth through a cavity, crack, or chip.
If the infection is not treated, it can spread to the surrounding bone and tissue and lead to an abscess. An abscess is a painful collection of pus that can cause swelling and drainage.
To perform a root canal, the pediatric dentist will first numb the affected tooth. Then, they will make a small opening in the tooth and remove the infected pulp. The pulp is the soft tissue inside the tooth that contains the nerves and blood vessels.
Once the pulp has been removed, the pediatric dentist will clean and disinfect the inside of the tooth. A root canal temporary filling may be placed. Then, they will later fill the tooth with a material called gutta-percha, which according to Colgate, is a plastic substance from a Malaysian tree called a percha tree used as a permanent filling in root canals. Finally, they will seal the tooth with a crown or filling.
Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. Sealants act as a barrier to protect the teeth from plaque and food particles.
Pediatric dentists typically recommend sealants for children as soon as their permanent molars erupt. Sealants can help to prevent cavities in the back teeth, which are the most susceptible to decay.
To apply sealants, the pediatric dentist will first clean and dry the teeth. Then, they will paint the sealant onto the chewing surfaces of the teeth. The sealant will harden within a few minutes.
Regular pediatric dental care is important for a number of reasons. It can help to:
Prevent tooth decay and gum disease
Identify and treat dental problems early
Help children develop good oral hygiene habits
Improve children's overall health and well-being
When choosing a pediatric dentist for your child, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Look for a dentist who has experience working with children.
Ask about the dentist's training and qualifications.
Make sure the dentist's office is child-friendly and welcoming.
Talk to your child's doctor for recommendations.
Pediatric dental care is important for children of all ages. By taking your child to the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings, many of the more common dental procedures may become unnecessary.
But if your child is in need of dental services, call our office for an appointment at (205) 969-7454. Dr. Joby Hurst is happy to help with your child’s dental care.