Restorative Dentistry for Kids
When a tooth is damaged due to injury or decay, restorative dental care can restore its strength, health, function, and appearance. Our goal is to retain as much of the original tooth as possible, removing only the damaged portions. This conservative approach is optimal for both oral health and aesthetics.
We offer the following restorative services at our practice:
Composite (White) Fillings
Unlike the silver fillings used in the past, composite fillings are made with tooth-colored material to blend in naturally with the rest of your child’s tooth. After removing areas of decay, the composite material is applied to the tooth and hardened.
Pulp Treatment (Pulpotomy)
The pulp of a tooth is rich in blood vessels and nerves, so when it becomes damaged or infected, it can cause a great deal of pain. When this happens, we do what is called a Pulpotomy, which many people confuse with a root canal. In baby teeth a Pulpotomy involves us removing the decay that extends down to the blood vessels of the tooth. We then remove the top part of what we call the “pulp”. The empty tooth chamber is then cleaned, filled with a material that resorbs when the baby tooth is about to fall out, and then the tooth is sealed with a dental filling/strip crown or stainless steel crown restore function of the tooth. A root canal is done in adult teeth, and in that procedure, the nerve down to the bone is removed, which can sometimes be painful. A Pulpotomy is nothing like a root canal.
Stainless Steel Crown/Strip Crown
When damage or decay is too extensive to repair with a dental filling, we use a crown to completely cover the outside of a damaged tooth. Stainless steel crowns are used to restore strength and function to primary molars, while white “strip” crowns are used for restoring incisors. They are also often placed after a Pulpotomy.
When the above restorative solutions are not an option, a tooth may need to be extracted. Because primary teeth do not have large roots, extraction can often be done under only local anesthesia and nitrous oxide sedation. A space maintainer may be placed to ensure that there is enough room for the secondary tooth to erupt and to prevent future orthodontic problems.
Frequently Asked Questions About Restorative Dentistry for Kids
Do you need to fill cavities in baby teeth?
It’s a common myth that baby teeth don’t need fillings. While it’s true that these teeth will fall out eventually, leaving decay untreated can result in pain, and spread of decay to adjacent teeth. Extracting a baby tooth to avoid a dental filling can cause orthodontic problems if adjacent teeth shift into the space created. Many parents don’t realize that baby molars are supposed to remain in the mouth until about 12 years of age.
How do I know if my child has a cavity?
Oftentimes you won’t know your child has a cavity until they have X-rays taken. When you can actually see a cavity in your child’s mouth, it usually means it is quite extensive. We often tell parents that if you can see a cavity with your own eyes, it’s like an iceberg on the X-ray and usually much larger.
Does my child really need a crown?
If a tooth has too much damage or decay to be repaired by a dental filling, a crown is necessary and preferable to extracting the tooth and then using a space maintainer to prevent teeth from shifting.
How long does a baby tooth extraction take?
A single tooth extraction usually takes less than half an hour, and may take as little as 20 minutes. This, of course, depends on your child’s comfort level and the type of sedation needed.