Fluoride is known to strengthen enamel. Fluoride is documented to be safe and highly effective if used in the recommended quantities. In San Diego County, it is added to community water at optimal levels. It is also found in dental products such as toothpaste, mouthwash rinses and other products. At each dental check up appointment, we apply a fluoride varnish (the most effective form of fluoride) to your child’s teeth after the cleaning is finished. This allows the greatest effect of fluoride to take place on plaque-free teeth.
Digital radiographs offer a reduced amount of radiation, high-speed technology and a more comfortable experience. Radiographs are a vital and necessary part of your child’s dental diagnostic process. Besides cavities, radiographs are crucial in identifying certain dental conditions that would be missed otherwise.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends radiographs and examinations every six months for children with a high risk of tooth decay. Parents often ask us “how frequently do you take x-rays on kids?” We always aim to minimize the frequency of radiographs but it depends on your child’s dental health. Children who are able to keep their teeth cavity-free can go longer without radiographs than those who tend to get cavities.
However, we understand that radiation exposure is sometimes a concern for parents. Our digital radiographs and proper shielding techniques assure that the amount of radiation exposure is kept to an absolute minimum. Keep in mind that there is more radiation received by spending a few hours in the sun (especially in San Diego!) than by taking dental radiographs.
The American Dental Association recognizes that sealants play an important role in the prevention of tooth decay. When properly applied and maintained, they can successfully protect the chewing surfaces of your child’s teeth. By forming a thin covering over the pits and fissures, sealants keep out plaque and food, thus decreasing the risk of decay. Since the sealant material is placed only in the grooves of the teeth, it is still essential to BRSH+FLSS daily! See our Post-Operative Instructions to learn how to care for sealants.
We use a plastic-based composite/resin filling material for front and back teeth. It is great for matching the color of the surrounding teeth. The placement must happen in a dry environment, therefore isolation of the tooth is critical. Similar to all filling materials, composite must be kept clean due to the risk of cavities forming around the filling, and to prevent staining.
We also use amalgam filling material but typically only for the baby molars in the back. Although not tooth-colored, it provides a great benefit of better withstanding insult (plaque, bacteria) to the tooth. Thus, it tends to last longer than other filling materials.
We are aware that some parents are concerned about the mercury levels in the fillings. To our knowledge, there are no scientific studies indicating any harmful effects from amalgam. Should you have more questions, we are happy to speak with you.
Stainless Steel Crowns
Stainless Steel Crowns are used to restore molars that are badly damaged due to large cavities in multiple surfaces on a tooth or weak enamel. They are utilized when a filling is not a viable option a tooth. For example, after pulp treatment (“baby root canal”) a tooth becomes weaker and requires a crown to maintain its strength.
These crowns are made with the tooth-colored resin filling material and used for the front teeth if there is significant damage to the teeth either due to cavities or trauma.
Extractions may be necessary for many reasons, including risk of infection, preparation for orthodontics, crowding or for large cavities when a tooth cannot be restored adequately.
Pulp Therapy (“Baby Root Canal”)
The pulp of a tooth is the inner core of the tooth and contains nerves and blood vessels. Large dental cavities and traumatic injury are the main reasons for a tooth to require pulp treatment. Keep in mind that a baby root canal is nothing like an adult root canal. Pulp treatment removes the diseased or infected pulp tissue within the crown portion of the tooth. After the removal of unhealthy pulp tissue, a medication is placed to calm the remaining nerve tissue. This is followed by a final restoration (usually a stainless steel crown) to provide strength to the weakened tooth.
Space Maintainers/”Interceptive” Orthodontic Treatment
Space Maintainers are used to hold adequate space for the unerupted permanent teeth. When a baby tooth is lost earlier than expected, the teeth beside it may tilt or drift into that empty space. As this happen, they take up space needed for the permanent teeth thus leading to crowding and space issues. If left untreated (without a space maintainer), the condition may require extensive orthodontic treatment. Space maintainers keep the remaining teeth in place until a permanent tooth is in that natural position. Space maintainers are appliances made out of metal and are custom fitted to your child’s mouth.
Some other appliances are also an option for conditions such as impaction, crowding, etc.