The chewing surfaces of children’s teeth are the most susceptible to cavities with their deep pits and grooves. Sealants are applied to the tops of chewing surfaces of molar teeth and are highly effective in preventing tooth decay. Research shows that sealants can last for many years if properly cared for. Sealant application involves first cleaning the tooth, then conditioning and drying the tooth. The sealant material is then flowed into the grooves and allowed to harden with a special light. These treatments are very affordable, especially in light of the decay protection it offers your child.
Tooth Colored Fillings
Tooth colored fillings (composite resins) are used to restore front or back teeth or where cosmetic appearance is important. Tooth colored fillings are used to repair fractured teeth and/or areas of decay. The shade of the restorative material is matched as closely as possible to the color of the natural teeth.
Pulpotomy “baby root canal”
When a cavity has become very large it often will penetrate through the tooth structure to the pulp or living tissue of the tooth. When the decay has reached the dental pulp, this area is generally still alive but the outer areas of the pulp are infected with the bacteria that caused the cavity. If the pulp is not treated and the infected areas are not removed, the bacteria will continue to cause infection and can migrate into the root canals. If this occurs, the tooth will become abscessed and painful requiring early removal of the tooth.
To prevent the tooth from abscessing and to relieve any discomfort we can perform a pulpotomy. We often refer to this as a “baby root canal” However, this is not as complicated or difficult of a procedure as a root canal on a permanent tooth. To perform a pulpotomy we remove the cavity and access the pulp chamber in the crown of the tooth, remove the diseased pulp, then place a medication in this area before restoring the tooth with a stainless steel crown.
One of a baby tooth’s most important jobs is holding the place for permanent teeth until they erupt. If a primary molar tooth is lost prematurely the other teeth around it can drift together and cause crowding. To keep this crowding from occurring a space maintainer can be used whenever a back primary tooth is lost early. The procedure for making and placing a space maintainer generally takes two appointments. At the first appointment an impression is taken. This is sent to a lab where the space maintainer is made. At the second appointment the space maintainer is tried in and any adjustments are made, if needed. It is then cemented in place. The space maintainer will remain until the back permanent teeth begin to erupt at which time it is easily removed. While wearing a space maintainer it is important to avoid sticky candy or chewing gum.
Stainless Steel Crown
Dental caries that have extended in a larger portion of the tooth structure and cannot be restored with tooth colored fillings will require a stainless steel crown. The tooth can be prepared and the crown cemented in a single appointment. It is sufficiently durable to last until the primary tooth exfoliates. The stainless steel crown is placed following a pulpotomy since a good portion of the crown is lost during this procedure.