Early Dental Care

Teething | Infant’s New Teeth | A Child’s First Dental Visit | Why Primary Teeth Important |
Good Diet & Health Teeth | Infant Tooth Eruption | Preventing Baby Bottle Decay | Pulpotomy | Crowns (stainless) | Root Canals | Extractions | Space Maintainers | Digital Imaging | Sedation Dentistry (nitrous) | Dental Development

Teething

Normally the first tooth erupts between ages 6 to 12 months. Gums are sore, tender and sometimes irritable until the age of 3. Rubbing sore gums gently with a clean finger, the back of a cold spoon or a cold, wet cloth helps soothe the gums. Teething rings work well, but avoid teething biscuits—they contain sugar that is not good for baby teeth.

While your baby is teething, it is important to monitor the teeth for signs of baby bottle decay. Examine the teeth, especially on the inside or the tongue side, every two weeks for dull spots (whiter than the tooth surface) or lines. A bottle containing anything other than water and left in an infant’s mouth while sleeping can cause decay. This happens because sugar in the liquid mixes with bacteria in dental plaque, forming acids that attack the tooth enamel. Each time a child drinks liquids containing sugar, acids attack the teeth for about 20 minutes. When awake, saliva carries away the liquid. During sleep, the saliva flow significantly decreases and liquids pool around the child’s teeth for long periods, covering the teeth in acids.

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Infant’s New Teeth

The primary, or “baby,” teeth play a crucial role in dental development. Without them, a child cannot chew food properly and has difficulty speaking clearly. Primary teeth are vital to development of the jaws and for guiding the permanent (secondary) teeth into place when they replace the primary teeth around age 6.

Since primary teeth guide the permanent teeth into place, infants with missing primary teeth or infants who prematurely lose primary teeth may require a space maintainer, a device used to hold the natural space open. Without a maintainer, the teeth can tilt toward the empty space and cause permanent teeth to come in crooked. Missing teeth should always be mentioned to your family dentist. The way your child cares for his/her primary teeth plays a critical role in how he/she treats the permanent teeth. Children and adults are equally susceptible to plaque and gum problems—hence, the need for regular care and dental checkups.

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A Child’s First Dental Visit

A child’s first dental visit should be scheduled around his/her first birthday. The most important part of the visit is getting to know and becoming comfortable with a doctor and his staff. A pleasant, comfortable first visit builds trust and helps put the child at ease during future dental visits. If possible, allow the child to sit in a parent’s lap in the exam room. Children should be encouraged to discuss any fears or anxiety they feel.

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Why Primary Teeth Are Important

Primary teeth are important for several reasons. Foremost, good teeth allow a child to eat and maintain good nutrition. Healthy teeth allow for clear pronunciation and speech habits. The self-image that healthy teeth give a child is immeasurable. Primary teeth also guide eruption of the permanent teeth.

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Good Diet and Healthy Teeth

The teeth, bones and soft tissue of the mouth require a healthy, well-balanced diet. A variety of foods from the five food groups helps minimize (and avoid) cavities and other dental problems. Most snacks that children eat cause cavities, so children should only receive healthy foods like vegetables, low-fat yogurt and cheeses, which promote strong teeth.

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Infant Tooth Eruption

A child’s teeth actually start forming before birth. As early as 4 months of age, the primary or “baby” teeth push through the gums—the lower central incisors are first, then the upper central incisors. The remainder of the 20 primary teeth typically erupt by age 3, but the place and order varies.

Permanent teeth begin eruption around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until around age 21. Adults have 28 secondary (permanent) teeth—32 including the third molars (wisdom teeth).

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Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Tooth decay in infants can be minimized or totally prevented by not allowing sleeping infants to breast or bottle-feed. Infants that need a bottle to comfortably fall asleep should be given a water-filled bottle or a pacifier. Our office is dedicated to fighting baby bottle tooth decay. Let us know if you notice any signs of decay or anything unusual in your child’s mouth.

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Pulptomomy

When a primary (baby) tooth’s nerve becomes infected, a pulpotomy (baby root canal) is necessary to save the tooth. A pulpotomy involves removing the infected part of the nerve and placing a sedative medication inside the tooth to encourage healing and prevent sensitivity. Following the pulpotomy, a crown or filling will be placed over the tooth to protect it from further decay. We will use a local anesthetic to numb the targeted area and ensure your child is as comfortable as possible throughout their treatment.

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Crowns (stainless)

A stainless steel crown is a covering that fits over an original tooth that is either decayed, damaged or cracked. We offer stainless crowns to protect your child’s teeth from further decay.

The treatment plan for a patient receiving a crown involves:

  1. Numbing the tooth to remove the decay in or around it.
  2. Re-sculpturing the tooth to provide an ideal fit for the crown.
  3. After ensuring that the crown has the proper look and fit, the dentist cements it into place.

Once the procedure is completed, proper dental hygiene, including daily brushing and flossing, is required to maintain healthy, bacteria-free teeth, gums and crowns. This helps in the prevention of gum disease. Given proper care, your crowns can last a lifetime.

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Root Canals

A root canal is a procedure that extracts decayed pulp from the central part of the tooth, reshapes the canal and replaces it with strengthening filler.

A cavity is the result of superficial decay of the enamel of the tooth. Left long enough, this decay can burrow into the deeper reaches of the tooth, causing extensive damage to tooth structure. When the damage goes beyond what can be treated with a filling, dentists can perform a root canal (or endodontics), preserving the tooth and retaining its original integrity; thereby, saving a tooth that in the past would have to have been pulled.

Procedure:

  • The patient undergoes anesthesia.
  • A dental dam is used to isolate the tooth.
  • The tooth is opened to allow for removal of infected or dead dental pulp.
  • The tooth is comprehensively cleaned, including any cracks and canals.
  • With special tools, the doctor reshapes the canals.
  • The tooth is filled again with cutting edge biocompatible filling material.
  • A temporary covering is used to cover the access opening.
  • Patients MUST see their regular dentist quickly for a permanent restoration of the tooth.

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Extractions

An extraction is the complete removal of a tooth. Extractions are sometimes necessary if a primary tooth is preventing the normal eruption of a permanent tooth, if the tooth has suffered extensive tooth decay or trauma that cannot be repaired, if the patient has gum disease, or if the tooth is impacted (usually the wisdom teeth). Depending on the complexity of the case, an extraction can be performed surgically or non-surgically. A mild anesthesia is used to ensure your child is as comfortable as possible throughout the procedure.

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Space Maintainers

If a primary (baby) tooth is lost prematurely due to decay or injury a space maintainer may become necessary to hold space for the permanent tooth.  Some baby teeth are not replaced by adult teeth until a child reaches 12 or 14 years old.  The space maintainer is a small metal appliance that is custom fitted to your child's mouth.  It is firmly fixed in the mouth and will be removed when the permanent tooth is in it's proper position.  It may consist of a band attached to the tooht on one side of the space with a wire loop or spring bridging the gap to the tooth on the other side.  They steady the remaining teeth, preventing movement until the permanent tooth takes it's natural position.

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Digital Imaging

We offer one of the latest technological advances in dentistry with digital imaging or digital radiographs (X-rays). A wireless sensor is placed in the mouth, and a computer generates an image in 30 seconds as opposed to the general 4-6 minute wait time for images taken on dental film. These images can also be enhanced on the computer and enlarged.

Not only are they friendly to the environment, they are much safer than traditional X-rays. Digital radiographs reduce radiation exposure by 90 percent!

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Nitrous Oxide or "Laughing Gas"

Nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, is often used as a conscious sedative during a dental visit. The gas is administered with a mixture of oxygen and has a calming effect that helps phobic or anxious patients relax during their dental treatment. Because it is a mild sedative, patients are still conscious and can talk to their dentist during their visit. After treatment, the nitrous is turned off and oxygen is administered for five minutes to help flush any remaining gas. The effects wear off almost immediately. Nitrous oxide rarely has side effects, although some patients may experience minor nausea. Your doctor will provide you with pre- and post-sedation instructions.

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Dental Development

 

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