Dentistry for Children
Pediatric Dentistry in Rancho Santa Margarita
One of the most heart wrenching things parents have to do is take their children to the dentist. Most of this anxiety results from trauma experienced by those parents when they were children. In fact, most of the severe, almost irrational anxiety, adults have about dental work comes from their childhood.
Well, we love children, and we treat their dental needs with an eye towards their futures as adult dental patients. We love when a family comes into the office together. I hesitate to say that we make it a party, but in our office a dental experience isn’t the onerous ordeal that it once was.
One of the most important things we teach kids and parents is the value of brushing their teeth, and how what a person eats effects the health of the teeth. Then, out of earshot of the children, we tell the parents that younger children don’t really have the concept or the coordination of brushing, so what they eat is really more significant. We strongly advise crunchy, large particle-size natural foods, like apples or carrots or celery that do a better job of cleaning the teeth than a brush at a young age. Other thoughts on eating are that:
water does rinse food off the tooth surface;
sugarless gum stimulates the secretion of saliva, which can neutralize the acid that is the direct cause of decay;
high- fluoride concentration rinses like A.C.T., as well as toothpaste right before bedtime put a nice fluoride coating on the tooth surface;
and those little Ice Chips things, as seen on that TV show “Shark Tank”, are sweetened with xylitol, a natural occurring sugar that coats the teeth with a cavity-resisting microfilm (safe for diabetics).
We are very focused on “Pit and Fissure Sealants”. This is a process where we seal the grooves in the chewing surfaces of the adult molars, which erupt about age six. These grooves get to the point where they’re narrower than one bristle on a toothbrush, to the point where decay-causing stuff can’t be cleaned out of them, so demineralization of the enamel (decay) happens. So, we clean out the grooves with the Sandblaster (more on that in a minute) and apply a liquid plastic into the grooves, then harden that plastic with a white light. The plastic gets deep into the grooves and the pores of the enamel by capillary action, seals them, and prevents decay in those grooves, easily 99% of the time.
When we do have to do fillings on those back permanent molars, we use the above-mentioned Sandblaster. Drilling on a tooth hurts because of the rotational vibration of the 400,000rpm carbon-steel burr, and the heat of friction caused by that burr as it cuts the tooth structure. By using the Sandblaster, it doesn’t hurt so we don’t have to give the patient a shot, we take away far less healthy tooth structure than with the drill, and we don’t put micro-fractures in the tooth like the drill does that pre-disposes the teeth to fractures in adulthood.
When local anesthetic is necessary, the shot is so much less unpleasant than years ago. The anesthetic has been reformulated to sting less, the needle is smaller by a large percentage, and the numbness afterwards lasts nowhere near as long as in the past.
Regarding orthodontics for children, we can tell at a pretty early age, like five years old, whether there’s going to be enough room for all the adult teeth (spaces between baby teeth are a good sign). The tooth-size gene may come from one parent, while the jaw-size gene may come from the other parent. Crowding comes when a child gets big teeth from one parent and small jaws the another. It used to be we’d remove some adult teeth, usually bicuspids, to make room for the rest. Today, with interceptive appliances, we can effect the shape of the bones and actually gain enough room for all the adult teeth.
A word (OK, several words) about x-rays. We use digital x-rays so the radiation that the patient is exposed to is negligible. But the intra-oral sensor is fairly large and uncomfortable for a little mouth, so we don’t do them unless absolutely necessary. Again, a childs dental patient future is of the utmost importance. But do have a digital pantographic x-ray machine that has no intra-oral sensor. This is very helpful if an adult tooth is coming in later than expected and we want to know that it’s there. Or, there is a familial history of missing adult teeth and the parents want to know that they’re all there. It also can allow us to predict, pretty accurately, how tall the child is going to be as an adult. Great when a parent wants to know whether to direct their fledgling athlete toward basketball or lacrosse.
Family dentistry. We love it.
Call us at 949-459-7212 so that we can help your children with their teeth.