New advances in dental medications have virtually eliminated the discomfort of dental procedures. There are several elements to creating a comfortable experience for your child's dental appointment:
Comfort and Relaxation
The first step is to make your child relaxed and comfortable. From the comfortable environment in our reception area to the soothing environment we have created around the dental chairs, no detail is too small when your child's comfort is concerned. Our caring, professional staff are committed to creating a stress-free environment for their comfort.
Some patients need a little help achieving a relaxed state. Nitrous Oxide ("laughing gas") is available when needed to make the patient more comfortable. We also provide:
- Oral Sedation
- General anesthesia in a hospital setting
A topical anesthetic is used any time the surface of the gum needs to be "numbed", such as easing the discomfort of a painful mouth sore or preparing a site for an injectable local anesthetic.
Generally, if there is any discomfort at all after a dental procedure, over-the-counter analgesics such as Tylenol or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) are all that is needed. It is important to to follow directions on the back of the bottle for appropriate dosage.
In exceptional circumstances a prescription pain reliever will be used.
If you have any questions or concerns about anesthesia, our doctors will be happy to discuss them with you. We want you to be as comfortable as possible.
Bonding is simply adding a little tooth-colored material to "fill in the blanks." One of the most frequent uses of the bonding technique is to fill in a gap between front teeth.
Your regularly scheduled check-up is often referred to as a "cleaning", but there is much more to it than that! The technical term is oral prophylaxis, which means prevention of oral disease.
One way to prevent oral disease is to remove harmful plaque and tartar (calculus) both above and below the gum line. You and your child may also be given special instructions on brushing or flossing to keep clean the areas where we found significant buildup. That is the familiar "cleaning" part of their checkup.
Another way to prevent oral disease is by early detection and treatment. During your child's checkup they will be screened for many potential threats to their oral health, including:
- Gum Disease
- Oral cancer
- Improper eruption of primary and permanent teeth
In addition, some systemic diseases, such as diabetes, often present themselves first inside the mouth, so early detection extends beyond just oral disease.
The Dental Hygienist is your first-line of defense against oral disease. The hygienist is a highly trained professional who can evaluate your child's teeth and gums, both visually and with the assistance of x-rays and other modern technology, to discover threats to your oral or general health. Our doctors will review the findings of the hygienist and advise you on any threats to your child's oral or general health.
Extraction is the complete removal of a primary or a permanent tooth. An Extraction can be surgical or non-surgical. This depends on the difficulty of the extraction and whether or not the tooth is impacted or erupted, and whether it has straight or curved roots.
An Extraction may be done by our office or you may be referred to an Oral Surgeon (someone who specializes in difficult or surgical extractions). No one looks forward to an extraction, but modern anesthesia will help keep you comfortable throughout the procedure.
Reasons for an extraction are:
- An abscessed tooth that cannot be saved.
- A tooth with decay too deep to save the tooth.
- A tooth that has broken at the gum line and cannot be saved.
- Impacted tooth 9typically a "Wisdom Tooth")
- Advanced Gum Disease. This is the #1 reason adults lose their teeth!
Nothing is better than a healthy set of teeth, and many advances in dentistry allow us to save teeth that we could not previously, but sometimes an extraction is necessary.
When an extraction is performed, it is important to put something in the place of the missing tooth or teeth. If the space is just left open, your teeth will shift and cause many unnecessary complications. An extracted tooth may be replaced by a temporary or permanent bridge, an implant, or by a partial or complete denture.
After decay is removed from a tooth, something must be placed in that space to give strength back to the tooth.
Fillings: Fillings are the most common restorative procedure.
Inlays and onlays: In addition to fillings, lab fabricated inlays and onlays are sometimes used. Although many patients think of these as fillings as well, they are actually different since they are laboratory fabricated.
White fillings: White fillings are used almost all of the time in our office. They are an attractive, durable alternative to silver (amalgam) fillings. White fillings are made of a strong composite resin that is matched to the surrounding tooth color. In the past, white fillings were placed only on front teeth, but recently a stronger more durable material has been developed that can withstand the chewing pressure of back teeth.
Silver (amalgam) fillings: Although white composite resin fillings are used almost exclusively by our office, there may be unique circumstances that call for a silver (amalgam) filling. Typically, silver fillings are placed on back teeth (molars).
Does Fluoride Really Make a Difference?
In the past, cavities were a fact of life. But over the last several years tooth decay has been reduced dramatically due to fluoride. Fluoride is beneficial for adults as well as children. Research has shown that fluoride reduces cavities by up to 40% in children and 35% in adults.*
Is Fluoride Safe?
Yes. Numerous studies over the past 60 years have shown that fluoride at recommended levels is not only safe, but provides significant health benefits.*
How Does Fluoride Help Children?
Children benefit from fluoride both systemically (by ingesting fluoride) and topically (the fluoride that gets on their teeth). Systemic and topical fluoride work together to keep teeth strong. Fluoride works best in children while teeth are forming. This helps both primary (baby) and permanent teeth. Starting at birth, and until all permanent teeth have fully erupted, ingested fluoride helps strengthen teeth as they are forming. Topical fluoride helps people of all ages. Fluoride is the only known substance that will actually strengthen teeth and make them harder.
Does My Child Need Fluoride Supplements?
Most city water is fluoridated and is an adequate source of systemic (ingested) fluoride. If your family uses well water or bottled water, you should have your water tested to see if there is adequate natural fluoride, or if a fluoride supplement is needed. Check with your local Health Department or bottled water manufacturer for testing. If adequate fluoride is not present, your child may need a prescription fluoride supplement from your dentist.
Topical fluoride is provided by fluoridated toothpastes and rinses. Additional fluoride treatments are applied as needed by your dentist during regular check-ups.
Does Fluoride Benefit Adults, Too?
Yes! Topical fluoride helps people of all ages by stopping the progression of a newly formed cavity and preventing root cavities. Fluoride is also helpful for patients with sensitive teeth. A consistent daily use of topical fluoride will often dramatically decrease tooth sensitivity to hot and cold substances. At your regular check-up, we will evaluate your particular situation to determine if additional fluoride treatments are needed.
* Source: American Dental Association
The muscles of the cheeks and lips are attached to the gums and tissue of the mouth by a piece of soft tissue called a frenum. A frenectomy is simply the clipping of this tissue. There are two frena in the mouth that can sometimes obstruct normal function and are candidates for frenectomies.
A lower frenum connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth and may impair a child's speech and can affect the ability of a nursing baby. A frenectomy can be done early if your child's speech is impaired or he or she is unable to nurse.
A maxillary (upper) frenum attaches the upper lip to the gums just above the upper two front teeth. A prominent maxillary frenum can cause a large gap to occur between the upper two front teeth. In this case a frenectomy is typically recommended at 9-13 years of age along with orthodontic treatment.
INFECTION CONTROL / STERILIZATION
Our doctors share your concern about the spread of disease and works hard to safeguard his patients, and staff, against infection.
When you visit our office, you will see a clean office carefully maintained by well-trained staff. Our dental team always wear gloves, eye protection and complete protective wear during each procedure. After each patient, they discard those gloves, wash their hands and put on a new pair of gloves.
Your protection starts long before you ever enter the treatment room. Here are a few of the things that you don't see: All surfaces are cleaned and disinfected, staff members sterilize all instruments after their use and dispose of anything that is potentially infectious.
Our doctors and staff want you to know that your protection, care and comfort are our top priorities. That is why we meet, or exceed, the highest infection control standards.
If you have any concerns or questions, please contact us.
NIGHT GUARD / SPORTS GUARD
Dental injuries in sports are primarily due to tooth-to-tooth contact. Being accidentally bumped in the chin with an elbow is not what directly causes most dental injuries. It's the collision of the lower teeth with the upper teeth after the bump that causes the damage. A mouth guard worn on the upper or lower teeth cushions the blow to protect both the upper and lower teeth.
Often Dr. Watts will recommend purchasing a Sports Guard at your local sporting good store. This is often more cost effective than a custom mouth guard for those children who do not have all of their permanent teeth yet. This guard fits over the upper or lower teeth to prevent broken or chipped teeth due to tooth-to-tooth contact. It is appropriate for sports where incidental contact with solid objects and other participants is common. Mouthguards can also be used the same as a Nightguard if your child clenches or grinds their teeth at night.
If all of your child's permanent teeth have come in Dr. Wattsmay recommend a custom mouthguard. The smaller size and secure fit of a custom lab created mouth guard provides these advantages:
- Clearer speech - when communication with teammates is important
- More comfortable fit - so it's less distracting
- Less restricted breathing - for improved performance
PULPECTOMY / PULPOTOMY
When the nerve of a primary tooth becomes infected or abscessed,a pulpotomy or pulpectomy is necessary to save the tooth. During a pulpotomy the infected part of the nerve is removed and a sedative medication is placed inside the tooth to prevent sensitivity and to promote healing. A pulpectomy requires the total removal of the nerve.(In permanent teeth this is referred to as Root Canal Therapy).
A tooth may become abscessed from deep decay, a cracked or broken tooth, or trauma. The only alternative to Pulp Therapy is an extraction.
After the primary tooth has undergone Pulp Therapy it is more brittle and must be crowned to give the tooth strength for chewing pressure. Brush and floss the tooth the same as the other teeth and visit your pediatric dentist regularly for preventive check-ups.
Molars Trap Food and Bacteria
The most common area for children to get decay (like most adults) is on their permanent back teeth (molars). The molars have very deep grooves and pits on the chewing surfaces. This is where food and bacteria hide and form cavities. No matter how well your child brushes, it is nearly impossible to remove all of the bacteria from these grooves and pits.
Sealants Can Help Prevent Decay
Sealants are a white or tooth shaded material that is bonded to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, sealing off deep grooves and pits. This makes the grooves of the teeth smoother so your toothbrush can more easily keep the tooth clean.
How are Sealants applied?
Applying sealants is a simple procedure. The teeth are first cleaned, then etched with a solution to help the sealant adhere. Next, the sealant is brushed on, then a special light is used to harden the material. The procedure is "child-friendly" because there is no need for anesthetic or drilling.
When should my Child have Sealants applied?
Sealants are recommended for all children when they get their permanent first molars (around 6 years of age) and when they get their permanent second molars (around 12 years of age).
Sedation Dentistry helps young children receive dental treatment who otherwise would not receive it. There are different options for sedation dentistry that can be used to help apprehensive children relax and allow our doctors to restore their mouth to a healthy state. After an initial examination our doctors will discuss the different options.
Often the use of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) helps the anxious child relax so treatment can be preformed comfortably.
Oral sedation with a mild sedative may be used if nitrous oxide will not provide adequate sedation, but where general anesthesia is not required.
Candidates for Sedation dentistry include:
- Children that have very extensive dental needs
- The very apprehensive child
- Children that have a very strong gag reflex
- Children that have had traumatic dental experiences
- Children that do not like the sounds and smells associated with dental care
- The medically compromised child
- The mentally handicapped child
General Anesthesia in a hospital setting
General Anesthesia is a procedure in which a medical anesthesiologist sedates the child in order to provide a safe and comfortable environment to provide treatment. This type of sedation is used for patients who would not cooperate with oral sedation due to age, the inability to cooperate in an outpatient setting, and/or have a medically compromising condition.
When a primary tooth is lost prematurely the teeth can drift into the new space crowding out the permanent tooth that is supposed to erupt into that space in the future. A space maintainer keeps baby teeth from shifting into the space where the tooth was lost so the permanent tooth can erupt in its natural proper space. As the permanent tooth erupts, our doctors will remove the appliance. Space maintainers can help eliminate the need for extensive orthodontics in the future.
Crest white strips
Professional Strength Crest White Strips can be recommended for patients age 14 or older and if all permanent teeth are present. If your child was previously orthodontically banded they must wait at least 6 months after braces were removed to start whitening. Healthy gums and good hygiene are essential for successful results.
Computer Digital Radiography (CDR)
Dental X-rays can now be taken using sensors that transmit the image directly into a computer monitor. This larger image helps the patient understand the doctor's explanations more easily and enables the doctor to "zoom in" on a specific area of the tooth. An important advantage to this new technology is that it reduces the amount of radiation by 90%. Digital X-rays are also faster. The digital image only takes 20 seconds to appear in the monitor. In addition, this new technology is friendly to the environment since no chemicals are needed for developing the image.
What are Dental X-rays?
What most people call X-rays are actually X-ray photographs (also known as radiographs). An image is made using X-rays, which are similar to sunlight, but of a shorter wavelength, and able to show us what's below the surface of a tooth. Even though we call them X-rays, we are actually referring to the image created by X-rays.
Why are Dental X-rays Necessary?
X-rays are the only way to identify problems that aren't externally visible. X-rays are very essential in doing a complete and thorough dental examination. They are especially important in diagnosing serious conditions early to allow for effective treatment before you experience discomfort. X-rays show bone anatomy and density, decay between the teeth or how extensive the decay is, whether an abscess is present, impacted teeth, or if children have permanent teeth.
This cavity was detected and filled before the patient felt any discomfort, and before the nerve became infected or the tooth became abscessed.
How Often Do I Need Dental X-rays?
The number and type of X-rays you will need depends on several factors such as age, current dental health, and external signs that may trigger a cause for concern. We are sensitive, however, to your concerns about exposure to radiation, and we only perform those X-ray procedures that are necessary for your continued dental health.
Still Have Questions or Concerns?
If you have any questions or concerns about dental X-rays, feel free to discuss them with any of our team members. They are highly trained in the use of X-rays and share your concerns about exposure levels.