Dental Treatments and Dental Care for Kids
When dental patients require treatment, the Center for Dentistry at Children's Health℠ has the expertise to carry out those procedures and make the experience as simple and easy for your child as possible – particularly for children with special needs, complex medical conditions, and/or those who require sedation for treatments. Our dentists are specially trained to provide the preventive dental treatments that will help ensure optimum health for your child, including:
- Preventive Services
- Pulp therapy/Root canals
In addition, we understand that emergencies happen. That’s why we provide 24-hour emergency dental treatment for children.
There are times when a tooth must be removed (extracted), including a tooth that is damaged from trauma or decay; when a baby tooth must be removed to make room for an adult tooth; or when a wisdom tooth becomes impacted.
Prior to removing a tooth, your child’s dentist will take X-rays to determine the position of the tooth roots and the condition of the surrounding bone. The tooth will be ‘put to sleep’ with local anesthetic, and when the area is numb, the tooth will be removed.
Once the tooth is extracted, the area where the tooth was will be covered with sterile gauze to stop any bleeding. Small sutures (stitches) may also be used. It is normal for the extraction site to be a little tender following the procedure. An over-the-counter pain medication like children’s ibuprofen will help.
Fillings for Children
If your child’s dentist finds a cavity – either through the dental examination or on his or her X-rays – your child may need a filling. At your child’s appointment, the dentist will inspect the tooth to be filled, ‘put the tooth to sleep’ with a local anesthetic, then remove the decayed area of the tooth. The filling will be placed and the child will be asked to bite their teeth together to insure that it is comfortable.
If your child has a cavity in a primary (baby) tooth, it is necessary to fill it because the primary teeth help guide proper eruption of permanent teeth, help your child to chew and speak properly, and if not treated, can cause severe pain if decay is not removed and infection develops.
A filling for your child’s permanent tooth cavity is necessary because – if left untreated – decay will get worse and can lead to bone loss. To prevent pain, infection, and the need for more serious surgery, it is important for your child’s dentist to perform the filling soon after a cavity is detected.
Dental Crowns for Children
A crown is a tooth-shaped cap placed over a tooth that is badly damaged from trauma or decay. Crowns restore the shape, size, and appearance of the tooth. Your child may need a crown on a baby tooth if the decay is so large that the tooth cannot hold a filling. If your child’s tooth is broken from a fall or injury to the mouth area, your child may need a crown to restore it.
If your child needs a crown, the dentist will ‘put the tooth to sleep’ with a local anesthetic, then remove decay and shape the tooth so the crown can fit over it. The appropriate-sized crown will be selected and fitted to the tooth, polished and cemented into place. The child will be asked to bite their teeth together to make sure that the crown is comfortable. Any extra cement will be removed and the area will be rinsed.
Pulp Therapy/Root Canals for Children
If your child’s tooth is sensitive to hot and cold, the cavity may be so large that it is affecting the nerve inside the tooth. Pulp therapy (pulpotomy) is often required to correct this. A pulpotomy is the treatment that is similar to a root canal for an adult. For baby teeth, only part of the nerve tissue is removed, leaving healthy tissue in the roots.
Your child’s dentist will recommend pulp therapy for a primary tooth if the decay has reached the living tissue inside the tooth. If the nerve inside the tooth is infected, and the tooth is abscessed, it may have to be extracted.
Your child’s dentist will perform an examination and look at X-rays of the affected tooth, then the dentist will, ‘put the tooth to sleep’ with a local anesthetic. Once the tooth is numb, the tooth will be isolated with a dental dam. Then the affected portion of the nerve will be removed, a pulp paste will be placed inside the tooth and a crown will be fitted and cemented. This procedure is designed to save the tooth.
Root canal therapy is similar to what was described above, but is usually planned for the permanent (adult) teeth. In this case, the nerve inside the tooth is infected and must be removed. If this treatment is not provided, pain and swelling can result, and the infection may require the tooth to be removed. The root canal treatment is a more involved procedure and usually takes more than one visit.
Your child’s dentist will perform an examination and look at X-rays of the affected tooth to determine the extent of the infection. The dentist will ‘put the tooth to sleep’ with a local anesthetic, then make an access opening into the affected tooth and remove the decay and infected pulp tissue.
The inside of your child’s tooth will then be thoroughly cleaned, the root canals will be filled and sealed. Following the root canal procedure, the tooth will more than likely have a crown placed to protect it.
What should I tell my child if they ask questions about the upcoming dental appointment? What if they ask me if they’re going to get a shot?
Tell them that you’re not sure, but that you will able to ask the dentist that question when you have your appointment.
Will my child feel pain from the numbing injection?
Your child’s dentist will first apply a topical numbing gel before ‘putting the tooth to sleep’ with a local anesthetic. The dentist will distract the child during the injection, and it will be a virtually painless procedure. Actual treatment of the teeth won’t begin until the area to be treated is numb.
How can I reduce anxiety my child is feeling about the procedure?
Use positive reinforcement. Talk about the dentist making your child’s teeth strong and healthy, and don’t use negative words (such as ‘shot,’ ‘hurt,’ ‘pain’) or share your own bad experiences. At the dental appointment, your child’s dentist will explain the procedures in a way that will be easy for the child to understand.
What can happen if my child doesn’t undergo the prescribed dental treatment?
If a child loses a baby tooth too soon, the remaining teeth may drift toward the front of the mouth, and the permanent tooth may not have sufficient space to emerge. Teeth that weren’t able to come into the mouth may become impacted. The planned dental treatments are intended to save the tooth and prevent these situations.