in Duncanville, Texas
Starting a child early with regular dental exams and care can mean a lifetime of better oral health. From the time of a child’s first tooth, the pediatric dentist can help start patterns of eating and hygiene that can protect against early tooth decay, as well as tooth alignment and gum problems in adulthood.
An essential part of maintaining your child’s oral health is having regular professional cleanings. During your cleaning appointment, the hygienist will:
- Remove plaque and tartar. Plaque is a sticky film containing bacteria that attack tooth enamel, causing cavities and inflaming the gums. Plaque left on teeth over time hardens and becomes calculus (tartar), which can only be removed with dental tools. Without proper care, plaque and tartar can lead to periodontal disease.
- Polish teeth. This final step removes minor stains and any remaining plaque, making teeth their whitest and brightest!
- Treat with fluoride. Your dentist may suggest a fluoride treatment to help their teeth stay strong.
Children’s mouths grow quickly and changes occur that cannot be seen in a visual exam. Your child’s dental exam will include X-Rays every 6-18 months to evaluate the teeth and mouth for conditions such as cavities, erupting teeth, extra or missing teeth, and bone disease. To protect your child, our office uses the most recent digital technology, which has greatly improved the safety, comfort, and speed of X-Rays:
- Exposure to radiation is reduced by 80 - 90%!
- A wireless sensor in the mouth replaces the awkward biting down on plastic cases.
- With images available in seconds, there is no waiting for film to develop and visits are shorter.
- Images can be enhanced to show the fine details, allowing the doctor to diagnose conditions in the very early stages.
Tooth enamel is dissolved and replaced constantly in the mouth, and fluoride makes that replacement material much stronger. Research indicates fluoride can help prevent cavities by:
- Making the tooth enamel stronger to protect against acids in the mouth formed by bacteria and sugar; and
- Helping reduce the number of bacteria that stays on the tooth surface.
Water fluoridation is a common practice in U.S. public water systems. However, bottled water, home treatment systems, and private well water may not be fluoridated. The use of fluoride toothpaste and mouthwashes and a diet that includes foods with natural fluoride may be sufficient. However, children under 6 with any history of decay and older children with a few cavities and other risk factors are at moderate to high risk for decay and may benefit from professional fluoride applications.
Infant/toddler first time visits
The first tooth is a milestone in your baby’s life. As soon as the first tooth emerges, or by their first birthday, your child should have their first dental checkup. At this visit, we’ll:
- Review your baby’s medical history and any concerns you have
- Examine your baby’s mouth for any signs of decay or other problems
- Show you how to clean their teeth
Early and regular dental visits can help your child avoid decay, a problem for 40% of 2- to 5-year olds. Developing good dental hygiene from the first tooth will help your child grow strong teeth so they learn to chew properly and speak clearly, and make space for the permanent teeth to come in properly.
Food and bacteria can become packed in the grooves of the back molars, and even the most careful brushing and flossing cannot fully clean these areas. Dental sealants are clear plastic coverings that protect the chewing surfaces from tooth decay by providing a barrier to food and bacteria. Application is simple and painless:
- The sealant is painted onto the tooth, filling depressions and grooves.
- Hardening takes place in just a matter of seconds.
- Most applications last several years with normal chewing and biting.
- Sealants can be reapplied as necessary.
Children should get sealants on their permanent molars as soon as the teeth come in — before decay attacks the teeth. Teenagers and young adults who are prone to decay may also need sealants. Sealants are a cost-effective prevention option, and when used along with regular dental check-ups and cleanings, provide the most effective defense for tooth decay.
Pediatric Sedation Dentistry
Smile By Smile Dental is dedicated to providing the highest quality care for your child’s teeth. Your child’s response to their dental experiences can make a lasting impression – a positive experience will help your child feel confident when visiting a dentist. Some children may be unable, because of fear or inability, to cope with dental treatments, or may make uncontrolled movements that could cause injury to the child. Others may develop such a fear that they will have trouble cooperating during future visits or even refuse treatment. These children may be more comfortable and safe with sedation.
- Nitrous oxide. Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a very safe sedative that allows a mildly nervous child to become calm but still awake and able to talk to the dentist. A mask is placed over the child’s face and as they breathe through their nose, the child relaxes. The effects wear off very quickly when the gas is turned off.
- Oral conscious sedation. If a child’s anxiety level cannot be soothed with nitrous oxide, using conscious sedation will cause the child to be drowsy or even to fall asleep. Depending on the treatment required and the child’s ability to cooperate, several different conscious sedation medications are available. Side effects may include nausea and vomiting, which can be minimized by following specific eating and drinking directions before and after sedation.
- General anesthesia. If the dental treatment is extensive or difficult and the child cannot be calm enough or is unable to understand directions to tolerate the treatment, general anesthesia may be recommended. General anesthesia will allow the child to remain asleep during the procedure and not feel any pain or remember the treatment. The child will be very drowsy after the procedure and must be monitored by an adult for the remainder of the day.
When baby (primary) teeth are lost before the permanent teeth erupt, space may need to be filled with a space maintainer (spacer). Not only are primary teeth used for chewing and speech development, but they also guide permanent teeth into the spaces where they belong without shifting, and protect the mouth from crowding and future orthodontic problems. Spacers are removed when the new tooth erupts.
Not every space needs to be filled:
- The four upper front teeth spaces will stay open on their own.
- If a permanent tooth is ready to erupt, your child may not need a spacer.
- But if space is already a problem, a spacer may be necessary.
Space maintainers are made of stainless steel or plastic, and come in two forms:
- Fixed – cemented onto the teeth on either side of the space
- Removable – looks like a retainer, used primarily for cosmetic space filling
Regular brushing and good oral hygiene are especially important. During your child’s regular dental check-ups, we will inspect the spacers and follow the progress of the incoming permanent teeth.
Special Needs Dental Care
Children with special needs often have a greater incidence of tooth decay, gum disease, and oral trauma. The staff at Smile By Smile Dental has been specially trained to design a program to address your child’s specific needs. Close attention to oral health is especially important for special children for several reasons:
- Physical limitations and lack of proper motor function can make brushing and flossing difficult.
- Some medications and special dietary requirements may be detrimental to dental health.
- Some children require frequent medical treatments and doctors’ appointments, and it is understandable for parents to spend less time overseeing the child’s oral hygiene habits.
At your first visit, we will schedule enough time to ensure a thorough review of your child’s medical history and discuss the best preventative dental care and treatment for your child. Home care takes just minutes a day and prevents needless dental problems. Starting dental care early and being diligent with daily oral hygiene can minimize the financial and emotional costs of oral health and help your child enjoy a healthy smile for a lifetime.
Pediatric Dentistry in Duncanville, TX
Contact Smile by Smile Dental in Duncanville, TX, to schedule your appointment. We welcome children of all ages and will make their visit more fun!