Restorative | Cibolo, TX | Dr. Alfred Burns
Baby teeth serve the important functions of eating, speech, and esthetics (self-image). These teeth not only help form the developing jaws, but they hold space for the permanent teeth so that your child will have a normal bite when the permanent teeth grow in. The last baby tooth falls out at about twelve years of age. A baby tooth can become so badly decayed that it can do damage to the permanent tooth. At times, severe infections of the face, head, and neck can be caused by infected baby teeth. Because of this, it is important to restore baby teeth as soon as decay is first detected. Teeth with dental decay can be restored either with amalgam (silver) or tooth-colored fillings. If the decay is extensive, it will require restoration with a crown.
Tooth Colored Fillings
In the past, cavities could only be treated with unsightly metal fillings that are alloys of silver and mercury. These tooth fillings, especially when close to the front of the mouth, are highly noticeable and unaesthetic. Sometimes, the filling is so large that it causes discoloration of the entire tooth. These fillings, or restorations, often weaken teeth due to the large amount of the original tooth that has to be removed. Also, there is a risk of mercury poisoning from the alloy that is used in the tooth filling. Modern dentistry has increasingly turned to tooth-colored, or composite, fillings as a strong, safe, and more natural looking alternative. Composite fillings utilize a soft, white plastic substance that is hardened with a blue UV light.
Treatment Appointments for Restoration
Parents can help us make the appointment for tooth restoration a successful and positive experience for their child. While talking to your child about the visit, use positive words like fun, easy, tooth asleep, silver star, water spray, etc. Do not use negative words like pain, hurt, needle, shot, tooth pulled, etc. The entire procedure will be explained to your child and you before the procedure is performed. Pediatric dentists are trained to deliver the local anesthetic painlessly. However, we do offer nitrous oxide and conscious sedation if the dentist sees the need for it.
Once the procedure is completed, a piece of gauze referred to as “tooth pillow” is placed between the cheek and the teeth to prevent your child from accidentally biting into the numb cheek and lip. When the anesthesia is wearing off, your child will feel a tingling sensation which may be annoying to some children. Reaffirm to your child that the tooth is waking up. After treatment is completed you can help us to continue the positive experience by praising your child and referring to the "fun" time they had. Please avoid negative comments such as: Did it hurt? That wasn't so bad! You were so brave! Did you get a shot? Were you afraid? These comments could persuade your child in thinking there was a reason to be afraid, even though they were cooperative and had a good time. This may make their future visits more difficult.
Sedation & General Anesthesia
In contrast to general anesthesia (which renders the child unconscious), dental sedation is only intended to reduce the child’s anxiety and discomfort during dental visits. In some cases, the child may become drowsy or less active while sedated, but this will quickly desist after the procedure is completed.
When is sedation used?
Sedation is used in several circumstances. Firstly, very young children are often unable to keep still long enough for the pediatric dentist to perform high-precision procedures safely. Sedation makes the visit less stressful for both children and adults and vastly reduces the risk of injury. Secondly, some children struggle to manage anxiety during dental appointments. Sedation helps them to relax, cope, and feel happier about treatment. Thirdly, sedation is particularly useful for children with special needs. It prevents spontaneous movement, and guides cooperative behavior.
What about general anesthetic?
General anesthetic (which puts the child in a deep sleep), is rarely used in dental work unless:
A procedure cannot otherwise be performed safely.
The child has a condition which limits cooperation or the ability to follow instructions.
The child needs a lengthy treatment.
The child needs more complex dental treatment or oral surgery.
General anesthetic requires more intensive preparation before the treatment and a longer period of recovery after the treatment. Conscious sedation is usually favored wherever possible.
If you have any questions about restorative pediatric dentistry, contact our office. We specialize in kids’ dental care and oral hygiene, and we want to make your child’s experience as fun and carefree as possible!