Common Dental Procedures
Q: How safe are dental X-rays and are they necessary?
A: Radiographs (X-Rays) are a vital and necessary part of your child’s dental diagnostic process. Without them, certain dental conditions can and will be missed. There is very little risk in dental X-rays. Pediatric dentists are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Lead aprons and high-speed film are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends radiographs and examinations every six months for children with a high risk of tooth decay. On average, most pediatric dentists request radiographs approximately once a year. Approximately every 3 years, it is a good idea to supplement regular x-rays with a panoramic film or earlier if otherwise indicated to aid a diagnosis.
Q: What are composites (tooth colored fillings)?
A: Tooth colored, plastic fillings are used to restore fractured teeth and/or areas of decay in permanent and primary teeth. The shade of the restoration material is matched as closely as possible to the color of the natural tooth which makes it an ideal material for esthetic areas such as the anterior teeth.
Q: What are amalgams (silver fillings)?
A: Amalgams or silver fillings are used to restore decayed areas in permanent teeth. They have a scientifically proven history of strength, safety and effectiveness in restoring teeth.
Q: What are stainless steel crowns?
A: Stainless steel crowns are silver colored "caps" used to restore teeth that are too badly decayed to hold fillings, in need a nerve treatment and/or badly fractured due to trauma. Crowns with white facings can be used on front teeth.
Q: What is a pulpotomy?
A: This procedure is a nerve treatment in which the sick part of the nerve within the crown portion of the tooth is removed and medicine to prevent bacterial growth and to calm remaining nerve tissue is placed in order to avoid extracting the tooth. This nerve treatment is then followed by a final restoration (usually a stainless steel crown).
Q: What is a pulpectomy?
A: A pulpectomy, aka “children’s root canal,” is necessary when the entire nerve of the tooth is dead due to cavities or trauma. The entire affected pulp, crown and root, is removed and the canals are cleansed, disinfected and, in the case of primary teeth, filled with a resorbable material. Then, a final restoration such as a stainless steel crown is placed.
Q: What are space maintainers?
A: A space maintainer is used to hold space for a permanent tooth when a baby tooth has been prematurely lost. If space is not maintained, teeth on either side of the missing tooth can drift into the space and prevent the permanent tooth from erupting into the right area or even prevent it from erupting into the mouth.
Q: What is interceptive orthodontics and when does my child need it?
A: As a child grows and matures, there may be indications that your child's teeth/jaws may not develop into normal position and biting relationships. At a young age, we start to be concerned with underdeveloped dental arches, jaw malrelationships, premature loss of primary teeth, dental realignment problems and harmful habits such as finger or thumb sucking. Interceptive orthodontics (commonly referred to as Phase I treatment) allows minor tooth movement and/or jaw modifications during an early developmental time in your child's life. This type of treatment may include fixed or removable appliances, spacers, and/or braces. Between the ages of 6-12 years is an excellent time to start treatment, when indicated, as your child’s hard and soft tissues are usually very responsive to orthodontic and/or orthopedic forces. Treatment initiated in this stage of development is often very successful and many times, though not always, can eliminate the need for future orthodontic/orthopedic treatment and developmental disruptions.