Children’s dental health is more important than many people may think. The condition of primary baby teeth can not only affect the long-term dental and oral health of children, but also have detrimental effects on their general health if left untreated for long periods of time. Neglecting children’s dental care can result in a lifetime of dental problems including gum disease, tooth decay, misalignment of adult teeth and other structural and orthodontic issues. If disease and decay are left untreated, the infection may even enter the bloodstream to cause problems with general health as well.
While children’s dental care is primarily focused on preventive measures such as regular professional teeth cleaning, fluoride treatments, dental sealants, space maintainers, and custom mouth guards, remedial measures are also highly valuable and needed. The following are some of the most commonly performed children’s dental treatment procedures.
Childhood tooth decay is a highly prevalent problem as baby teeth are weaker and more prone to decay than permanent adult teeth. Tooth fillings are a simple and non-invasive procedure to treat cavities resulting from tooth decay in children, but it needs to be caught early. Childhood tooth decay progresses much more quickly than for adults, so early detection is key to ensuring that more invasive measures are not required. This is why we recommend dental checkups and teeth cleaning for children to be scheduled every 6 months so we can catch any issues before they become more serious.
Tooth fillings are normally performed with a local anesthetic, after which the decay is cleaned out then filled with the filling material. The procedure is simple, quick, and painless, and prevents further decay in the affected tooth.
The first goal of dentistry for kids (and adults, for that matter), is restoration. However, tooth extractions may be necessary for severe tooth decay, over-crowding, or in the case of a baby tooth that needs to come out to make way for the new adult tooth.
When tooth decay progresses beyond repair and is at risk of infecting the surrounding teeth, your child’s dentist may perform a tooth extraction to remove the infected tooth, then place a space maintainer until the permanent adult tooth has erupted and taken position. Sometimes a tooth may need to be removed to make room for overcrowding in the mouth so that the remaining teeth can be aligned. A baby tooth with a misshapen or extra-long root may also need to be pulled if it is not falling out in time to make room for an erupting permanent adult tooth.
Severely decayed baby teeth can sometimes be saved with dental crowns. Sometimes, a tooth may be too severely decayed to fill, but can be cleaned out so it doesn’t affect the surrounding teeth. In this case, the tooth can be saved and restored with a dental crown to protect the weakened tooth, prevent further decay, provide ability to chew, and hold the space until the tooth naturally falls out to make way for the permanent adult tooth.
Dental crowns for children come in stainless steel and tooth-colored options. Stainless steel is usually recommended for back molars as they are stronger for chewing purposes and tooth-colored crowns are often used for more visible front teeth. Children’s dental crowns are normally prefabricated and cemented onto the remaining tooth structure after all decay has been cleaned out. The procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia.
Other procedures that can save a severely decayed tooth include root canal procedure and pulp treatment. When cavities extend into the nerve or root canal, these treatments can be used to remove part or all of the pulp, depending on the extent of the decay. Pulp treatment is where only part of the pulp is removed, whereas root canal procedure involves removing all of the pulp. These procedures may also be used in cases of injury or trauma to the teeth.
Veneers and dental bonding deal with the cosmetic dentistry issues your child may face. These treatments can correct minor cosmetic defects such as gaps, chips, discoloration, or misshapen teeth. A brighter, more even set of teeth can help restore your child’s smile and their confidence!