Restorative Dental Care
What is Restorative Dental Care for Kids?
Restorative dental care for kids refers to restoring a tooth that has been damaged. Teeth cannot heal themselves and therefore, permanent damage to a tooth caused by a chip, crack or cavity needs quick treatment. Having restorative dental work done in a timely manner means that your child can retain their biological teeth, which ideal for long-term dental health.
Composite Fillings (“White Fillings”)
Composites and glass ionomers are tooth-colored fillings that are used to restore areas of a tooth after decay has been removed. Case selection is very important in determining the long-term success of the dental restorations. The goal is to return the decayed tooth back to the normal esthetic (sometimes improved), form, and function. Our composite restorations are BPA-free. We do not treat patients with amalgam (traditional silver filling) at our office.
Stainless Steel Crowns
Larger decay or defects can compromise a tooth beyond the effectiveness of a filling and a crown is needed in order to restore the integrity of the tooth. Our office utilizes stainless steel crowns (the gold standard in pediatric dentistry).
Remember that baby teeth serve multiple purposes—the ability to chew (so that your child can grow and develop), esthetics, speech, and space maintenance for the permanent tooth developing underneath.
Pulpotomy (“Baby Root Canal”)
The dental pulp is where the nerves and blood vessels are held that allows our teeth to feel cold and other sensations. Decay on baby teeth can progress very rapidly and can enter the pulp, which can lead to an abscess, infection, and pain. In certain cases a pulpotomy can be utilized to clean out the pulp chamber. Often times these are referenced by dentists as a “baby root canal.” The words “root canal” can illicit fear in the bravest, but in baby teeth the process is a lot different and the phrase is just a descriptor to allow parents to understand what is happening.
Benefits of Restorative Dentistry for Kids
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) shows that 42% of children 2-11 have had dental decay on their teeth and 23% of these have untreated decay.
Untreated decay can cause pain, which affects daily activities such as eating, playing, speaking, and learning.
Untreated decay can cause severe infections that can spread to other body parts and have serious and sometimes fatal results.
Restorative dentistry is vital for your child because baby teeth have thinner enamel than permanent teeth. Decay spreads quickly in baby teeth and leads to problems much faster. It is essential that your child has optimal oral care and visits their dentist regularly so that dental issues are caught and addressed early.
The Goal of Restorative Dentistry
Get and keep your kid's teeth in good working order
Prevent more extensive damage to the tooth and the oral cavity
Prevent or treat tooth discomfort
Promote proper dental hygiene
What exactly is Restorative Dentistry?
90% of tooth decay starts on the chewing surfaces of teeth because food particles and bacteria get stuck in the grooves. Even with proper brushing and flossing of teeth, the toothbrush bristle is too big and cannot penetrate deep inside these grooves. A dental sealant is plastic material placed over the grooves of the chewing teeth to fill them up and provides a smooth surface that is easier to keep clean.
Restorative dentistry is the prevention and treatment of teeth conditions to restore them to their original form and function; it includes repairing or replacing damaged or defective teeth. Restorative dental procedures include:
Stainless steel (silver) crowns
Pulpotomy, or "baby teeth root canals."
Dental Fillings for Kids
Fillings are the most common restorative option. Your dentist will remove the decay from the tooth and fill the hole with either a silver (amalgam) or white filling (composite resin material). A filling early on prevents the cavity from getting larger and reaching the tooth's nerve. Decay in the tooth's nerve leads to pain.
Stainless Steel (Silver) Crowns
When a baby tooth has a huge cavity that has damaged a significant amount of healthy tooth structure, a silver or white filling is not adequate to restore the tooth to its original form and function; a silver cap or crown is the treatment of choice. The silver stainless steel crown covers the whole tooth and acts as a football helmet protecting the tooth from further damage. Dr. Dina will place stainless steel crowns over a baby tooth after doing nerve therapy.
If your child has extensive decay on the front baby teeth, their dentist will use tooth-colored dental crowns to restore them as these are more esthetic than the silver crowns.
Pulpotomy, or "Baby Teeth Root Canals."
If your child's baby tooth gets an infection due to deep untreated tooth decay or trauma to the tooth, Dr. Dina will do a pulpotomy. A pulpotomy is a procedure to restore infected baby teeth and prevent premature tooth loss. Your dentist removes the infected and damaged tissue from the top portion of your child's infected tooth. Dr. Dina then treats the remaining tooth tissue with a particular medication to help protect it from infection. She then places a stainless-steel crown over your child's tooth to protect it.
Tooth Extractions and Space Maintainers
Sometimes, your kid's baby tooth cannot be saved, and your Dr. Dina's only option is to pull the tooth to bring your child back to optimal health.
When Dr. Dina extracts your child's baby tooth and their permanent tooth is not ready to come in, a space maintainer saves space for the permanent tooth by preventing teeth adjacent to the gap from shifting. The space maintainer is removed when your child's permanent teeth come in.