146 Pediatric Dentist 3 – Common Pediatric Dental Procedures (1 of 5)
Below are procedures which are commonly performed in pediatric dentistry.
Children often need X-rays more frequently than adults due to their rapidly changing and growing mouths. X-rays provide better insight into the structure of the tooth which may not be visible. X-ray examinations are recommended by The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry about every six months for children who are at a high risk for tooth decay. Those who have a low risk for tooth decay do not require X-rays as frequently.
During a dental visit, the dentist will complete a thorough examination of the child’s oral health. The child’s teeth will then be professionally cleaned to remove plaque and calculus. When these materials remain on the teeth, they can result in gum disease and cavities. Following the cleaning, fluoride is typically applied. This aids in protecting and strengthening the weak areas on the teeth against decay. It is recommended that healthy children visit the pediatric dentist every six months for an evaluation of their oral health and development. If the child has special needs or is at high risk for decay and other issues, the dentist may suggest completing visits more frequently. The frequent visits allow the dentist to closely monitor the child’s oral health and quickly intervene when needed.
When there is a weakening in the mineral composition of the tooth’s enamel, it allows cavities to form. The use of fluoride helps to promote the remineralization of teeth and aid in preventing cavities from forming. In some bodies of water, there are naturally low level of fluoride present. It is also common for municipal water supplies to add standardized levels of fluoridation to the water. Fluoride is also commonly added to many household products including mouth rinses and toothpaste.
Tooth decay is a progressive disease which often starts in young children. Bacteria, which is normally present in the mouth, reacts with sugars from foods and drinks. This creates an acid which slowly destroys the enamel of the child’s teeth. This acid can also damage the gums. When there is a loss of the enamel, the teeth form weak points which eventually become cavities. When they remain untreated, they can result in irreversible nerve damage or require the tooth to be extracted.
As with most dental issues, early intervention and treatment is critical. Once a cavity is detected, the pediatric dentist can use a tooth-colored filling to repair the tooth. For a large or deep cavity, a crown may be needed or the tooth may need to be extracted. Tooth decay can be prevented through good oral hygiene which includes regular brushing and flossing. Follow the dentist’s recommendation regarding the use of fluoride and follow a well-balanced diet to help your child prevent early cavities.
A sealant is a thin, plastic coating which is applied to the top surface of back teeth. They are quite effective in preventing tooth decay. Pits and grooves, which naturally occur on the chewing surfaces of these teeth, can easily trap plaque and be especially susceptible to cavities. These small grooves and cracks are especially susceptible to cavities in children and teens. Sealants and fluoride combined can be an excellent combination in the prevention of tooth decay. A sealant typically lasts for about 5 to 10 years. The dentist will examine that the sealants at regular visits to ensure they are still in place. Children with sealants should avoid eating ice and chewing on crunchy foods or hard candy.