Dental Crowns for Baby Teeth

There are many different reasons for a pediatric dentist to recommend dental crowns for baby teeth. Cavities can be very problematic if left untreated in a baby tooth. Baby teeth often aren’t fully developed and can break easily when hit or bumped when not treated with a crown or filling. Catching these problems early can promote healthy development of baby teeth and prevent major issues later on.

What are Crowns?

A dental crown is a tooth-shaped covering cemented to the tooth. It’s purpose is to restore the tooth to its natural shape and function. Crowns are often recommended by pediatric dentists when it is necessary to repair and restore a baby tooth that has a large cavity or cavities, broken tooth, or a baby tooth that has not developed properly.

Teeth that are severely decayed or fractured cannot be repaired by filling because of the risk of the filling falling out, breaking or wearing out. This would cause additional future dental procedures. Crowns are much more durable than fillings and usually last until the baby tooth falls out.

Repairing and restoring baby teeth is very important. Most children begin to lose a few baby teeth by age six, but they won’t lose their molars until age 12 or 13. This is why it is essential to keep those teeth healthy until they fall out naturally. When they fall out healthy and naturally, it helps the permanent teeth grow into their proper position which reduces the chances that they will need extensive orthodontic treatment later. Decay can spread rapidly between teeth once it starts because the enamel of baby teeth is thinner than permanent teeth. Crowns are used to help save the decayed tooth, but they are also able to prevent the spread of decay and infection to other areas of the mouth or body.

The Procedure

The process of placing a crown is fairly simple. First, the dentist will numb the area around the tooth that needs to be restored. Then, they will put a dental dam in place and remove any decay that is in the tooth. Lastly, they shape the tooth to fit the crown.

Crowns for children can be placed in a single procedure, whereas adult crowns often require several visits to the dentist.

Once the procedure is done, it is normal for your child to experience some discomfort caused by irritation of the tooth’s soft tissue around the tooth for up to 24 hours. Your child may take over the counter medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help with the discomfort. If your child experiences pain for longer than 24 hours, it is important to contact your dentist. You should not allow your child to eat until the numbness has completely worn off to prevent accidental bites of the lip or cheek.

 

To learn more about whether dental crowns are right for your child, contact one of our two offices to schedule a consultation.

What Are Frenectomy Procedures?

A frenectomy is a simple surgical procedure that involves the removal of one or both frena from the mouth. The frenum is a connective tissue membrane that attaches one surface within the mouth to another. Frenum means bridle in Latin, and this term is used because it restricts tongue movements when it is connected by a frenulum between two surfaces inside of the mouth or pharynx. The two types of frenum are known as the labial frenum and the lingual frenum. In some cases, a frenectomy can help with breastfeeding and relieving respiratory issues.

Labial Frenectomy

A labial frenectomy is a procedure that removes the small tissue connecting the upper lip to the gum between your two front teeth. It can also cause gum recession by lifting the gums off of the jawbone.

Lingual Frenectomy

The lingual frenum is a small fold of tissue in the middle of the underside of the tongue. It can be positioned too far forward, which can cause it to over-tighten and restrict your tongue’s movement when it comes to speaking, singing, and eating. Lingual frenum, also known as being “tongue-tied,” can also impede an infant’s ability to latch during breastfeeding or eating from a bottle.

Benefits of a Frenectomy

There are several benefits to having a frenectomy. Those include:

  • Improves appetite and eating in infants and children
  • Improves speech function
  • Improves bite function
  • Helps to reduce pain and discomfort
  • Promotes self-confidence in children and teens by eliminating gaps in the smile

What Happens After a Frenectomy

In most cases, the pain from a frenectomy is mild, and it heals quickly. The patient can have normal function of the lips and tongue. Many patients hardly notice the effects of the surgery.

 

For more information about frenectomies and if one is right for your child, give one of our two offices a call. We’re always happy to explain more and help you decide if it’s right for your child.

Pediatric Dental Care: Starting Your Child Off on the Right Tooth

The quality of dental care a child receives while growing up can have a huge impact on their teeth — and even their general health — for the rest of their life. Dental care sets the stage for the way teeth develop as they grow, and it’s important to begin with a good foundation. To reinforce healthy brushing habits with children and make sure their teeth are coming in nicely, we recommend visiting the dentist early, with a first visit at about twelve months of age, which is usually less than six months after their first tooth shows up.

Here are a few specific reasons to take your children to the dentist early in their lives:

Baby Teeth are Important

Your child’s baby teeth aren’t disposable just because they’re temporary. They play an important role in your child’s development. Making sure their baby teeth are in order will have a positive effect long after they lose them. Baby teeth act as placeholders for adult teeth; they help your child’s jaw and gums develop in the right way. Not only that, healthy baby teeth help children learn to speak by supporting the shape of the mouth correctly. And a dazzling smile is good for their self-esteem.

Experience Calms Anxiety

Many grownups feel anxious about going to the dentist. However, if you bring your children in for a visit at about the age of twelve months, they’ll be too young to think anything bad is going on and they won’t likely be very worried. One of the best ways to help children avoid the development of dental anxiety is to begin building a habit of regular dental visits early in life. Parents who wait until children are two years of age or older likely will have a much rougher time with visits at early ages, and the children could develop lifelong anxiety about going to the dentist.

Tooth Decay Comes Early

Tooth decay can set in as soon as your child develops their first tooth. A CDC report showed that as many as 40% of children will develop some form of tooth decay before they reach kindergarten. And that decay can have a long-term effect on the health of their teeth and gums.

Nip Problems in the Bud

After children have stopped growing, it can be difficult to get crooked teeth back in order. The process is likely to be more difficult, longer and more uncomfortable for the patient than if the problems are taken care of early in life. That’s why there’s no better time to fix misaligned or crooked teeth than when your child is still growing. As soon as their teeth show signs of these problems, we can begin early to guide their teeth into the correct position.

 

Giving your child’s teeth the care they deserve sets them up for dental success in the future by introducing good dental hygiene habits and preventing problems from getting worse as their teeth age. If you have any questions about how to give your child the best dental care possible or would like to set up an appointment, give us a call at 712-276-8391. Begin proper dental care as soon as your child’s first tooth shows up and you’ll put them on the road to a healthy, beautiful smile all their lives.

One Year Update: COVID-19 and Dental Offices

It’s been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic changed almost every aspect of our daily lives—including regularly visiting the dentist. However, this should soon be a thing of the past. Not visiting the dentist was one of the many ripple-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and even though it is not over, yet, things are looking up.

According to the ADA Health Policy Institute, confidence in going back to the dentist hit a new high since the pandemic started, with 94% of patients stating they are ready to go back to the dentist or they have already have gone back to see the dentist, compared to August of 2020 where only 78% of patients had been back or were ready to go back to the dentist.

If you’re ready for your next dental checkup, contact us today to set up an appointment!

Continued Safety Protocols

As more and more people become fully vaccinated, the CDC has started to provide less-restrictive guidelines for these people. However, most recommended precautions, such as using personal protective equipment, have not changed for health care settings, including dental offices.

Even though we are seeing COVID-19 case numbers trending down, we still ask that you follow our guidelines for your safety and the safety of others, including:

  • Do not come to the office if you have any symptoms of COVID-19
  • Limit the number of people you bring to your appointment, if possible
  • Wear a mask until notified that you can remove it

Per the CDC, we are regularly consulting with our state and local health departments for region-specific information and recommendations, as they monitor trends in local case counts and adjust accordingly.

We understand that you may not feel comfortable quite yet, or you have questions about the protocols we’ve implemented in our office to keep patients safe. You can review our entire list of COVID-19 Safety Protocols or you can contact us and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Best Practices for Kids’ Healthy Teeth

Once kids get their first tooth, parents start to wonder how they can help their child establish good dental habits. As a parent, you want to help your children develop good dental hygiene, since poor dental health is all too common and can lead to complications in adulthood such as more serious diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Below are simple tips for helping your children develop and maintain healthy teeth.

Lead By Example
Kids love to imitate those around them, so being a good role model is one of the best ways to show children how important dental health is. Demonstrate good oral health habits with them, brush and floss with your kids, rather than sending them into the bathroom on their own. Instead of treating it as a chore, make it part of the daily routine.

Keep Dental Appointments
Keep a regular routine of going to the dentist for regular checkups. Your child should have their first dental appointment within 6 months of their first tooth or their first birthday, whichever comes first, and then twice a year after that.

Eat Healthy Foods
Avoid sugary drinks and food. This can help with not only your child’s overall health, but it can also create a conversation about cavities. When sugar is allowed to sit on your teeth, it can create decay, and we all want healthy, strong teeth to enjoy the things we love.

Brush and Floss
Brushing twice a day for at least 2 minutes is one of the best way to keep your mouth clean and healthy, yet it’s not always achieved. Set a timer and use a tartar dye if desired to be sure all the teeth surfaces are cleaned and that brushing has happened long enough to be effective at removing plaque. There are also apps available to make brushing and caring for your teeth fun.

These are some great ways to help keep your child’s mouth clean and healthy. Give one of our two offices a call today to schedule an appointment with us. We’re always happy to answer any questions you may have!

How to Teach Your Child the Value of Oral Hygiene

As a parent, it’s a very daunting task to teach your child the value of oral hygiene. It is especially difficult when they are in the preschool years and more likely to be distracted and uninterested in what you have to say. The key, according to dental instructor Elizabeth J. Hodges, who often lectures on this topic, is to make teaching fun for both parent and child.

This blog will discuss some ideas on how to keep your child interested in their oral health.

Why It Matters

Keeping good oral hygiene is so important as a child. As a parent, you probably know this, but how do you convince your child that it is important. When you maintain a clean mouth, you will have lesser chances of dental diseases and tooth loss. Good dental hygiene also plays a huge role for aesthetic reasons as it keeps your teeth looking polished and white and also reduces the chance of experiencing bad breath.

Habits to Teach

Regular Dental Checkups
It’s important to take your child to the dentist for regular checkups (at least every six months). This will help them get into the habit of seeing a dentist on a regular basis, which will help them even as they grow into adults.

Eating Healthy Foods
Eating healthy at a young age is so important for children. This will help them get into the habit of eating fruits and vegetables and actually enjoy them. Eating healthy is great for oral health and will keep their teeth stay in good condition

Brushing Twice a Day
Showing your child that it is important to brush their teeth twice a day is a great practice. You can even start this before your child actually starts teething. You can start by wiping their gums with a soft foam, and once they start to grow teeth, you can upgrade to a baby toothbrush. This will help your child to grow up with the familiarity of having their teeth brushed.

Flossing
Teaching your child at a young age that not only brushing, but also flossing your teeth is another great way to keep their mouth healthy. If this is difficult for you as a parent, you can have your dentist help show them at their regular checkup!

Lead By Example
Your child learns the most from you as their parent. Showing them how important oral hygiene is and practicing good oral hygiene is one of the best ways for them to learn. When you put both your child’s and your own dental hygiene as a top priority, your child will grow up understanding the importance of taking care of your teeth.

 

It is imperative to teach your child how to take care of their teeth at a young age. We’re always happy to answer any questions or address any concerns you may have. Call either of our two locations today and we can schedule an appointment.

Why Are Baby Teeth Important?

Tiny, but important ― that’s how baby teeth are referred to, especially by dentists. While most parents would look at their babies’ tiny teeth and wonder what in the world they could be thinking about, dentists realize early on that these tiny teeth aren’t just for looking at cute smiles and giggles.

Taking good care of your baby’s teeth early on is crucial to their oral health now and for the rest of their lives. We’ve come up with several reasons why you want to keep your baby’s teeth in tip top shape.

  • These teeth are crucial to your child’s health and development. They help with the development of permanent teeth by saving space for them in the jaw. When a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift to the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in.
  • Baby teeth aid in speech development. Taking care of your child’s teeth will help them speak and communicate better.
  • They help your child maintain good nutrition by permitting him/her to chew properly.
  • Baby teeth help children feel good about themselves and their smile. It’s so important for children to feel confident from a young age and keeping their teeth healthy is imperative.

What happens if baby teeth aren’t taken care of?

Baby teeth can get cavities, just like adult teeth. In addition to the pain caused by cavities, they can also lead to dental infections. Tooth decay is a serious, infectious, and transmissible disease that can spread quickly and lead to infection. If a tooth needs to then get extracted, this can cause the teeth to drift, which may lead to overcrowding and difficulty for the adult teeth to grow in.

Be sure to visit a dentist within six months of your child’s first tooth appearing and definitely by the time they reach the one year mark. Our team will check for cavities and any other pediatric dental problem. We’ll also help show you and your child how to properly take care of their teeth. Give one of our offices a call today!

A Good-Looking Path to Better-Looking Teeth: Invisalign® Systems and Other Clear Aligners

Braces can feel like a bit of a contradiction. You want a clean, straight smile, but you first have to wear a highly visible device on your teeth for months on end. You want a well-aligned bite, but for a while braces make some day-to-day tasks, such as brushing teeth and eating some foods, more difficult.

Fortunately, for those who want to show off their pretty pearly whites as they go AND show off the results of their realignment as soon as possible, one option is clear plastic removable aligners such as Invisalign aligner systems.

The Benefits of Clear Aligners

Clear aligners, as their name suggests, are clear plastic devices intended to straighten your teeth over time. They are nearly undetectable by observers. Not only are they more difficult to see (getting you closer to being able to show off that perfect smile), but they can be taken out temporarily when needed, allowing you to brush your teeth or eat without distraction.

The Clear Aligner Fitting Process

For most clear aligners, including Invisalign systems, your dentist will take a mold of your teeth and send it in. From there, orthodontic experts will determine the difference in positions between where your teeth are and where you want them to be and will create several stages of aligners to gradually move your teeth into the desired position. You’ll have to wear the aligners most of the time—about 22 hours a day. At certain points in the process as your teeth change position, you’ll move on to the next device, switching them out until your teeth are right where you want them to be.

Alternatively, there are kits you can order to take a mold of your teeth at home. This is an overall less expensive process, but you aren’t likely to achieve the same results and you lose the benefit of your dentist’s expertise. Clear aligners may not be the best solution for you, so it’s best to consult your dentist beforehand even if you decide to go this route.

How to Pay for Clear Aligners

Depending on the degree of work your teeth need, an Invisalign clear aligner treatment can cost between $3,000 and $7,000. According to Invisalign’s website, your insurance may be able to pay as much as $3,000 of the cost. For the amount your insurance doesn’t cover, you have some options.

Many dentists offer payment plans, which allows you to split a large bill into smaller payments over time. This makes payment much more manageable for some people and can be useful in emergency situations when you don’t have time to save money for the treatment before you begin.

Of course, if you can save the money ahead of time, that’s probably the better option. If you’re planning to save up for an Invisalign clear aligner treatment or something similar, you may want to consider opening a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA). Accounts such as these allow you to take a certain amount of money out of your paycheck, pretax, to pay for some expenses—including, in some cases, clear aligners. The types of accounts you’re allowed to open and the amount of money you can put into them will vary depending on your situation, so talk to your bank or another financial professional about your options.

For those who can use them, clear aligners such as Invisalign systems can be the least intrusive solution for straightening teeth. It’s nice not to have to worry about the looks and inconveniences of traditional braces! The initial cost of clear aligners may seem daunting, but options are available to help pay for them. If you have any questions about clear aligners or other methods of straightening your teeth, please call one of our offices. We’ll be happy to walk you through your options and help you find the best possible solution for your smile.

4 Signs Your Child Needs Emergency Dental Care

Damage to teeth and gums can’t be ignored. It’s always important to act quickly if something is wrong, but some dental issues are more pressing than others. How can you know the difference between a dental problem that needs to be solved soon and a problem that needs to be solved now?

We never want our patients to put off a dental procedure when it could lead to lasting harm, so we’ve compiled a list of important warning signs that mean you should get your child’s teeth checked out as soon as possible. After all, they’ve only got so many teeth — it’s best to keep them all in good shape.

1. Broken or missing teeth

It goes without saying that obvious physical damage to the teeth is one of the most urgent dental emergencies someone can experience. If your kid’s tooth has been damaged, rinse their mouth with warm water immediately and call us as soon as possible. If their tooth has come out, gently try to put it back into the socket (without touching the root!) or have them keep it in their mouth to protect it until we can see them.

2. Dental abscesses

A dental abscess is a small collection of pus inside of a tooth or gums that is caused by a bacterial infection. If your child’s symptoms include shiny red swollen gums, a fever, or pain that spreads to their jaw or neck, they may have an abscess, even if you don’t see it. Try to see us as soon as possible, but, in the meantime, you can reduce the pain of the abscess by having them avoid cold drinks. Use a soft toothbrush to very gently clean the area until we can get them into the office.

3. Lost filling or crown

A crown or filling can become loose or even fall out for a variety of reasons. If your kid lose a crown or filling, it’s important to try to save it — we may be able to reuse it. Rinse the area with warm salt water and continue to brush the damaged tooth (gently!) until we can see them.

4. Significant pain or swelling in the teeth, gums or jaw

Constant pain or swelling in the mouth is never normal! This symptom may seem vague or common, but it could be a sign of major damage or an infection that could have nasty results if left untreated. Don’t make your kid tough it out. Call us and we will decide together whether your child needs to come in for an appointment.

 

Ignoring any of these four dental problems could result in the permanent loss of teeth. Infections can even spread to other parts of the body and cause serious general medical issues, so it’s extremely important to get your child’s teeth examined if they experience any dental emergency on this list!

We want your kid’s tooth pain or mouth pain to stop.

First and foremost, if your child is in pain, we want to help them get some relief. Then we can address any underlying causes to solve the problem using dental best practices. If you believe your kid is experiencing a dental emergency, give us a call at (781) 599-2900 as soon as possible. We’ll get them an appointment in the near future, so they can go back to their life and leave tooth pain behind.