Restorative Dentistry We Can Fix Your Little Smiles
Did you know that according to the CDC nearly a third of children age 2 - 5 are affected by tooth decay? While this is shocking, Brush Pediatric Dentistry encourages families to focus on preventive oral care so they can avoid issues that require more invasive treatment. However, things happen: decay can occur despite proper hygiene, teeth break or get knocked out, and then pediatric restorative dentistry becomes necessary. If your child’s smile needs a little help, be sure to contact our office today for an appointment!
If your child experiences a cavity, the first course of treatment we normally use involves a filling. This material literally fills the space in their teeth eaten away by the cavity and helps restore its strength. Whenever possible, we will always use tooth-colored fillings. They are made of a plastic-based composite resin material that is completely biocompatible (no metal allergies!). It’s able to firmly bond directly to the tooth, and like the name indicates, it can be shaded to match the natural color of your child’s enamel.
However, in some cases, metal fillings (what we call “silver stars”) may be the best solution. These are made of a material called amalgam, which consists of metals like zinc, silver, and mercury. Mercury is essential to holding these different metals together and giving the filling its durability. When mercury is combined with other metals, its chemical composition is changed so that it is no longer a threat to your child’s health. We invite you to ask any and all questions you might have when your child comes in for a filling.
Once they have a filling, no matter which kind, they can help maintain it using regular brushing and flossing.
The teeth are actually composed of multiple layers, and this is true of even the smallest baby tooth. The innermost layer is where the sensitive nerve resides, and this is why you’re able to “feel” your teeth despite them being rigid structures. Most often, a cavity will be limited to just the outermost two layers (the enamel and dentin), but if left alone for an extended amount of time, it can reach this sensitive nerve. In these cases, we may need to perform a pulpotomy or a pulpectomy, which we refer to as a baby root canal.
A pulpotomy will involve fully removing the top portion of the nerve until healthy tissue is located inside of your child’s tooth. It will then be filled with a sedative material to prevent reinfection. Following this treatment, one of our doctors will restore the tooth’s lost structure using a dental crown.
If the cavity has created an abscess deep inside the nerve chamber, sometimes a procedure called a pulpectomy can help save a tooth that would normally need to be extracted. This procedure is very similar to a root canal for adults. Your child’s doctor will create an access hole in your child’s tooth, clean it, irrigate it, dry it, and then fill the chamber. The tooth can then be restored using a stainless steel crown.
Both of these procedures can be completed in just one visit. Thanks to modern day dentistry and sedation techniques, they are often tear and pain free. We’ll always make sure your child is perfectly comfortable and anesthetized before we begin any treatment. Often, these kinds of cavities create the most severe toothaches, and these two treatments are the best ways to give your child relief while saving their teeth at the same time.
If a tooth has become so damaged due to injury or decay that it can't be restored with a filling, our team will use something called a dental crown. It’s able to restore a broken tooth both functionally and aesthetically. At Brush Pediatric Dentistry, we place three distinctly different kinds of crowns: tooth-colored composite crowns for the front teeth and stainless steel crowns for the back teeth. We also have porcelain crowns which can be used in certain cases both in the front and back. Come in for a consultation to see if your child is a candidate. All three types can be placed in just one visit and can last for many years with the proper care.
Stainless Steel Crowns
Stainless steel crowns are usually the number one choice for pediatric dentists when it comes to restoring a child’s damaged teeth because they are strong, durable, reliable and time tested. Most often, they are used to restore the back teeth, known as the molars and premolars. These teeth are typically placed under the most stress when a child is chewing and are the most often missed while brushing. They are filled with tiny crevices and ridges to help with chewing, but this also makes them very susceptible to decay. A stainless steel crown is ideal for repairing these teeth because they can best replicate the strength of real enamel, and also because they are well hidden at the back of the mouth.
Composite crowns are made of the same material as tooth-colored fillings: a composite resin. These crowns are ideal for restoring the front teeth that are seen when a child smiles because it can be shaded to match their natural tooth color. While it is the more aesthetically pleasing option, composite crowns are not as strong as their stainless steel counterparts. They can break or chip over time and can often become stained. If your child has a composite crown applied to one of their teeth, be sure they are extra diligent with their home oral hygiene and are extremely careful about not biting into very hard foods such as carrots, lollipops, and apples and instead using the back teeth so they can help maintain the crowns appearance and shape.
All-White Ceramic Crowns
If your child is a candidate, all-white ceramic crowns are the most cosmetic option when it comes to restoring your child’s severely broken and damaged teeth. They provide both functionality and aesthetics with just one restoration. Each crown is made of an all-white Zirconia material that is strong and durable. They are shaded to match the natural color of your child’s teeth. They are completely biocompatible and won’t make your child’s teeth sensitive to hot and cold. They are truly the next best thing to your child’s natural teeth.
Brush Pediatric Dentistry’s number one goal is to always preserve your child’s natural teeth, but sometimes one can become so damaged or infected that the best solution is to simply extract it. This may also be necessary to create room for their emerging adult teeth or orthodontic treatment. We’ll always take extra special care to do it gently so your child won’t be afraid to come see us again. Thanks to modern dental techniques, most of the time we have the tooth out before they even know we’ve started!
If your child prematurely loses one of their back teeth, our doctors may recommend that they get a space maintainer. Like the name suggests, it literally maintains the space left by the lost tooth to allow your child’s permanent tooth to come in correctly. When a tooth is lost too early, the remaining teeth will often try to drift into the new gap. This can cause the baby teeth to become misaligned and prevent the permanent teeth from erupting into the correct places. A space maintainer helps prevent these problems and minimize the need for additional future orthodontic treatment. Thankfully, they are not needed in the case of lost front teeth.