Kids’ dental care or pediatric dental care comes with its own set of unique challenges due to several factors such as age, diet and oral hygiene.

Listed below are nine common pediatric dental procedures which every parent should know about.

Dental Checkups

Regular checkups are essential to ensure that your child doesn’t develop any severe dental issues due to negligence and continues to enjoy good dental health.

During these, a pediatric dentist looks for any underlying signs of problems, visible signs of cavities or decay and indications of gum diseases.

Thorough dental cleanings are also often a part of regular checkups. They involve removal of plaque and calculus which are hard tartar deposits responsible for causing cavities and gum diseases in children.

Dental Crowns

These are a type of restorative dental procedure to enhance a tooth’s shape or to strengthen it. They are prescribed for worn, broken or partially destroyed teeth.

The crown is usually made from metal, porcelain or both. Those made from porcelain are usually preferred, as they resemble the natural teeth the most and are strong.

Root Canal

In case of cavities, bacteria can enter the internal pulp tissue and infect it. If ignored, the child can suffer extreme pain and swelling.

Root canal treatment can help save your child’s infected tooth or teeth before severe damage is caused.

The affected tissue is removed and the interiors are cleaned and sealed. Dental composite is then filled in the infected tooth.

Fillings

Dental fillings or restoratives are generally used on the front side of the teeth where cosmetic appearance is important.

They are made from porcelain, composite, gold or ceramic and are of two different kinds – a) direct and b) indirect.

Direct fillings are directly placed into the cavity and require a single visit. Indirect fillings include inlays and veneers made from composites or ceramics and require two or more visits.

Sealants

Thin and white plastic coatings called sealants are applied to the top or chewing surface of teeth and are extremely effective in preventing decay.

The naturally occurring grooves and pits on the chewing surface of teeth in children and teens are prone to collecting plaque and hence, decay. Sealants help prevent decay in these areas and last for at least 5-10 years with proper care.

Extractions

Extractions are done if:

  • A baby tooth has misshapen or its long roots are preventing it from falling out to make way for a permanent tooth.
  • In case of severe decay in a tooth, the surrounding teeth and gums are exposed to the risk of infection.
  • Wisdom teeth are extracted mostly in the late teens if the roots aren’t fully formed and the bone surrounding the teeth is not dense enough
  • For orthodontic reasons in order to facilitate tooth alignment in case of crowded teeth.

Nightguards & Mouthguards

If your child has the habit of clenching or grinding the teeth or often wakes up with jaw pain, headache or earache, he or she may be suffering from bruxism.

If neglected, it can result in cracked or broken teeth and even tooth loss. Nightguard is a non-invasive treatment which helps prevent the problems caused by teeth grinding. It is customized and is made from a soft material.

Mouthguards protect your child’s teeth and gums from injury while playing sports. These are of three types – pre-made, boil-and-bite fitted and customized.

Besides, depending on the severity of the case, a mouthguard can also prove helpful for treating sleep apnea in children.

Space Retainers

These are used to maintain the space created by a prematurely lost baby tooth. If the space is not maintained, the teeth on either side can drift into that space and prevent the permanent tooth from erupting.

Fluoride Treatment

This procedure is really quick and effective in preventing plaque development which in turn helps reduce the risk of cavities and decay formation. Based on your child’s dental health, the kids’ dentist may prescribe this treatment every three, six or 12 months.

Ask a pediatric dentist about the common challenges you can expect in terms of kids’ dental care. Proper oral care and regular dental visits can help your child enjoy a healthy smile for years to come.

Dr. Michael Long, DDS, is a dentist in Fresno, CA in practice for 39+ years. He graduated from University of the Pacific Dental School in 1980. He and his team are dedicated to taking care of your and your family’s oral care and dental needs.