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Regular Exams and Cleanings
Regular exams are an important part of maintaining your child’s oral health. During your son or daughter’s regular exam, we will:
- Check for any problems that may not be seen or felt
- Look for cavities or any other signs of tooth decay
- Inspect the teeth and gums for gingivitis and signs of periodontal disease
- Perform a thorough teeth cleaning
Your child’s exam will take about 45 minutes. Each regular exam includes a detailed teeth cleaning, during which we will clean, polish, and rinse the teeth to remove any tartar and plaque that have built up on the tooth’s surface.
Crowns are a restorative procedure used to improve a tooth’s shape or strengthen it. Crowns are most often used for teeth that are broken, worn, or have portions destroyed by tooth decay.
A crown is a “cap” cemented onto an existing tooth that usually covers the portion of the tooth above the gum line. In effect, the crown becomes the tooth’s new outer surface. Crowns can be made of porcelain, metal, or both. Porcelain crowns are most often preferred because they mimic the translucency of natural teeth and are very strong.
Crowns or onlays (partial crowns) are needed when there is insufficient tooth strength to hold a filling. Unlike fillings, which apply the restorative material directly into the mouth, a crown is fabricated away from the mouth.
A crown is created in a lab from your child’s unique tooth impression, which allows a dental laboratory technician to examine all aspects of your child's bite and jaw movements. The crown is then sculpted just for your child so his or her bite and jaw movements function normally once the crown is placed.
There are times when it is necessary to remove a tooth. Sometimes a baby tooth has misshapen or long roots that prevent it from falling out as it should, and it must be removed to make way for the permanent tooth to erupt.
At other times, a tooth may have so much decay that it puts the surrounding teeth at risk, so we may recommend its removal. Infection, orthodontic correction, or problems with a wisdom tooth can also require removal of a tooth.
When it is determined that a tooth needs to be removed, one of our dentists may extract it during a regular checkup or request another visit for this procedure. The root of each tooth is encased within the jawbone in a “tooth socket,” and the tooth is held in that socket by a ligament. In order to extract a tooth, the dentist must expand the socket and separate the tooth from the ligament holding it in place. While this procedure is typically very quick, it is important to share with our team any concerns or preferences for sedation.
Traditional dental restoratives, or fillings, may include gold, porcelain, or composite. Newer dental fillings include ceramic and plastic compounds that mimic the appearance of natural teeth. These compounds, often called composite resins, are typically used on the front teeth where a natural appearance is important.
There are two different kinds of fillings: direct and indirect. Direct fillings are placed into a prepared cavity during a single visit. Indirect fillings generally require two or more visits. These fillings include inlays, and veneers fabricated with ceramics or composites.
Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay. It also prevents plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth’s surface. A fluoride treatment in our mobile clinic takes just a few minutes. After the treatment, your child may be asked not to rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Depending on your son or daughter’s oral health, or the doctor’s recommendation, a fluoride treatment may be required every three, six, or 12 months.
Sometimes brushing is not enough, especially when it comes to those hard-to-reach spots in your child’s mouth. It is difficult for a toothbrush to get between the small cracks and grooves on a little one’s teeth. If left alone, those tiny areas can develop tooth decay. Sealants give those teeth extra protection against decay and help prevent cavities.
Dental sealants are a plastic resin that bonds and hardens in the deep grooves on the surface of your son or daughter’s teeth. When a tooth is sealed, the tiny grooves become smooth and are less likely to harbor plaque. With sealants, brushing your youngster’s teeth becomes easier and more effective against tooth decay.
Sealants are typically applied to children’s teeth as a preventive measure against tooth decay after the permanent teeth have erupted. It is more common to seal “permanent” teeth rather than “baby” teeth, but every patient has unique needs, and our dentists will recommend sealants on a case-by-case basis.
Sealants last from three to five years, but it is fairly common to see adults with sealants still intact from their childhood. A dental sealant only provides protection when it is fully intact, so if your child’s sealants come off, let us know, and schedule an appointment for your little one’s teeth to be re-sealed.