Common Dental Procedures
Parents often ask us about the most common dental procedures for children's teeth. While we focus on preventioninstead of cure, sometimes your child's teeth will require a dental procedure.
Here are some of the most common dental procedures:
Fillings are used to restore function of missing tooth structure or tooth structure destroyed by decay or sometimes trauma.
A composite or white filling is used in most situations and will be as hard as it will be immediately following the procedure. Once the composite filling is placed, a dental sealant is typically placed over the remaining tooth’s surface to complete the restoration. This type of filling is traditionally the same color as the tooth’s surface, therefore, very difficult to see and making it aesthetically pleasing.
Glass Ionomer Filling
A glass ionomer filling is used in a situation where saliva is difficult to control or behavior is an issue. This type of filling is similar to the tooth’s color but may discolor over time. This type of filling is not as hard as it will be for 24 hours so it is recommended that a soft diet is followed during this time.
An “amalgam” filling is used in a situation where saliva is difficult to control or if there is a large area of decay present on a tooth. This type of filling is not as hard as it will be for the 1st 24 hours, so it is recommended that a soft diet is followed during this time. Due to the increasing strength of today’s composite fillings, amalgam restorations are no longer offered in this office.
Stainless Steel Crowns
When decay has destroyed a tooth to the extent that there is little support for a filling, or a nerve treatment has to be performed-it is best to surround the tooth with a stainless steel crown. If decay is large or wraps around the tooth’s surface, then a stainless crown can be used with better success avoiding tooth fracture.
Pulp or Nerve Treatment
The pulp of a tooth is the inner, central core of the tooth. The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels, connective tissue and reparative cells. The purpose of pulp therapy in Pediatric Dentistry is to maintain the vitality of the affected tooth. If treatment is not rendered, the tooth will abscess & have to be removed early. Dental caries (cavities) and traumatic injury are the main reasons for a tooth to require pulp therapy. Pulp therapy is often referred to as a “nerve treatment”, “pulpectomy” or “pulpotomy”.
A pulpotomy removes the diseased pulp tissue within the crown portion of the tooth. Next, an agent is placed to prevent bacterial growth and to calm the remaining nerve tissue. This is followed by a final composite restoration or a stainless steel crown.
A pulpectomy is required when the entire pulp is involved (into the root canal(s) of the tooth). During this treatment, the diseased pulp tissue is completely removed from both the crown and root. The canals are cleansed, disinfected and, in the case of primary teeth, filled with a resorbable material. Then, a final restoration is placed.
A dental extraction is the removal of a tooth from the mouth. Extractions are performed for a variety of reasons; including trauma & tooth decay that has affected enough tooth structure to make the tooth non-restorable. Extractions of impacted or problematic wisdom teeth are routinely performed due to lack of room, as are extractions of some permanent teeth to make space for orthodontic intervention.
Space maintainers are appliances made of metal which are custom fit to your child’s mouth. They are small and unobtrusive in appearance. Most children easily adjust to them after the first 24 hours. Space maintainers are used for maintaining space lost from a premature tooth removal due to decay or trauma.