Pediatric Dental Restorations
The term ‘dental restorations’ refers to the practice of restoring the function and integrity of a tooth that has been impacted by trauma or by the effects of dental caries (cavities). Treating pediatric cavities is one of the most frequently offered services by pediatric and family dentists.
What is a Cavity & Why Do They Occur?
Cavities begin as small indentations in the enamel of a tooth that indicate that the enamel has become compromised and has begun to demineralize. Small cavities may be present in the mouth without you knowing about it despite brushing your child’s teeth every day. This is because many cavities occur between the teeth where the bristles of our toothbrushes have a more difficult time reaching.
Cavities form as a result of the chemical reaction between our saliva, our bacteria and the foods that we eat. When we introduced starches or sugars to our oral cavity it is met with saliva which works alongside bacteria to break down the foods in preparation for it to be fully digested later down the digestive tract. The bacteria in our mouths digest the sugars present in our ham sandwiches, for example, and as a byproduct of their digestion they excrete an acid. Since bacteria aren’t careful about how they discard their waste, they excrete this acid immediately into the mouth where it can attack the protective enamel on our teeth and irritate the gingival tissues. Since these bacteria are found in such a nice warm moist environment as your oral cavity, they replicate quickly and easily when sugar and starch is introduced.
Sticky candy and starches that turn into a paste which can be pressed into the pits and fissures and between the meeting points of teeth are often responsible for high levels of acidity in the mouth. These items stick and are resilient to leaving the mouth without diligently brushing and flossing your teeth. The result is an overpopulation of plaque bacteria collecting around the collars of the teeth and gums. Since this bacterium causes irritation to the gums, the gums can become inflamed and swollen and this is responsible for bleeding during flossing. Bleeding during flossing represents the first sign of gingivitis and can be rectified with a diligent oral hygiene regimen including brushing the teeth a minimum of twice a day and flossing the teeth a minimum of once a day using proper technique.
If left to proliferate, these plaque bacteria can be responsible for both the development of tartar and the eventual progression of gingivitis into periodontitis. In its most severe form, periodontitis may require surgery and antibiotics to correct. Due to its interaction with minerals in our saliva, plaque bacteria can become calcified over time (tartar) and must then be professionally removed. Chronic inflammation of the gum tissue causes it to loosen from the teeth, allowing bacteria to enter the socket. This can result in tooth decay further down the crown of the tooth beneath the gum line.
What Can I Expect If My Child Has A Cavity?
Your dentist will begin by assessing the degree of the cavity and may consult digital x-rays for this purpose. Digital x-rays offer lower radiation exposure and provides valuable insight about the degree to which the decay has progressed into the pulp of the tooth.
Your child will require a local anesthetic which will be administered after numbing the site for injection with a topical anesthetizing gel. Your dentist and dental staff will offer comfort and compassion to you and your child, we know the first time can be uncomfortable – and we are here to ease your worries. Once your child is calm and anesthetized (and has the television on his or her favourite channel!) it’s just a few short minutes before your dentist will have removed the signs of decay from the tooth, and restored the missing structure using a composite filling.
Once your child’s restoration is complete, he or she will be discharged home with special instructions to avoid eating or chewing on anything until the freezing effect has subsided and they are safely out of risk of unknowingly biting their cheek or tongue.
Our talented team are experts at facilitating procedures for first-time patients. For some children, however, a safe oral sedative is required in order to allow them to maintain a healthy level of stress throughout the procedure. Ask your dentist if you think your child would benefit from a mild sedative prior to treatment.
Pediatric Teeth & Tooth Decay
While all people, young and old, are susceptible to the effects of tooth decay, pediatric patients may develop signs of decay more quickly than adults as a result of their thinner tooth enamel and the proximity of the pulp being closer to the crown of the pediatric tooth. In other words, it’s easier for cavities to occur and they progress more quickly than an adult tooth. As a result, dentists recommend having your children in for a dental checkup every 6 months.
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