Although your child’s first teeth will eventually be replaced by adult teeth, there are many cases in which restorative dentistry may be the best course of action for your child.
Primary — or baby — teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help your child speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to come in. Some of the baby teeth are necessary until a child is 12 years old or longer. Pain, infection of the gums and jaws, impairment of overall health and early loss of teeth are just a few of the problems that can happen when baby teeth are neglected.
Also, because tooth decay is really an infection and will spread, decay on baby teeth can cause decay on permanent teeth. We combine the latest technology and dental products available with sound techniques proven by research to support your child’s comfort and dental health.
We take pride in restoring your child’s smile with the following treatments:
At Growing Smiles, once your child is comfortable, the infected portion of the tooth is removed. We then restore your child’s beautiful smile with white resin that bonds to your child’s existing tooth structure. We always stay current with the latest dental literature and base all of our decisions on what is best for your child and what is supported by research.
- Dr. Meggan uses composite resin filling material whenever indicated. Growing Smiles is an amalgam (silver) free dental practice.
- Resin restorations have many advantages over amalgam fillings. Resin restorations require a smaller preparation, which means removing less tooth structure. Some resin materials can release fluoride into the tooth to help prevent further decay.
- Resin restorations are more technique sensitive than amalgam fillings and require more care when placing them. We feel your child is worth this extra effort!
- We base all of our treatment on what is best for your child, and not on specific dental insurance coverage. Your insurance may not cover resin fillings at the same level as an amalgam
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that when three or more surfaces of your child’s baby tooth are decayed, the whole tooth should be covered to prevent it from decaying or breaking more. At Growing Smiles, Dr. Meggan offers stainless steel crowns — which are adapted to cover your child’s existing tooth to the gumline after the infected tooth structure is removed.
Dr. Meggan may also recommend covering a baby tooth with a crown in the cases of fractured teeth, malformed teeth, excessive tooth grinding and after a nerve treatment to protect the remaining tooth structure. Also known as caps, crowns are placed on the tooth with dental cement. Hard or sticky foods and candies should be avoided and if the crown becomes loose or painful, please contact our pediatric dental office immediately. Please note that this and all dental procedures require follow up and no dental treatment will be successful unless accompanied by proper oral hygiene.
Dr. Meggan has undergone specialized training to treat primary (baby) teeth. They are treated differently than permanent teeth and not all dentists follow the AAPD recommendations. If a filling were to be done on the tooth after Dr. Meggan has recommended a stainless steel crown, the filling could fail. Your child might need to have the tooth retreated in the future — which might not be covered by your insurance — or extracted. In most cases, the stainless steel crown should last until the tooth comes out naturally.
At this time, there are white crowns for the front teeth. Some companies are starting to make stainless steel crowns with a white coating on the cheek side for the back teeth (molars) or all white crowns. We keep up-to-date on the current materials on the market and look for esthetic alternatives that will match the superior functional qualities that the stainless steel crown offers. In select cases, an esthetic crown may be an option for a back tooth. Ask Dr. Meggan if esthetic crowns are an option for your child.
Baby Root Canal Therapy
Baby root canal therapy will protect a tooth from becoming abscessed. It is needed when the dental decay (cavity) is deep and may reach the pulp (nerve). This procedure removes the inflamed (affected) part of the nerve and leaves the healthy part intact and protected by medicated filling.
It is recommended that your Grand Rapids pediatric dentist place a stainless steel crown (silver cap) over the tooth as a final restorative measure. These caps are prefabricated but will be trimmed and fitted to your child’s tooth.
Please be advised that all dental procedures need follow up, and any dental procedure will not be successful unless accompanied by good oral hygiene combined with daily brushing and flossing.
There are times when it is necessary to remove — or extract —a tooth. Infection, orthodontic correction or wisdom tooth problems can also require removal of a tooth. Sometimes a baby tooth doesn’t fall out as it should, and the tooth must be removed to make way for a permanent tooth to erupt. We always try to save teeth, but occasionally a tooth may have so much decay, or an associated abscess, that it must be removed. Sometimes, a space maintainer is necessary to hold space for the permanent tooth to erupt when a primary (baby) tooth is lost too early. Dr. Meggan recommends that if you must tell your child about their extraction, use the words wiggle the tooth, instead of pull, rip or yank.
Space maintainers are appliances made of metal or plastic that is custom fit to your child’s mouth. They are small and inconspicuous in appearance. Most children easily adjust to them after the first few days. If a baby tooth is lost too soon, the teeth beside it may tilt or drift into the empty space and close the gap. When adjoining teeth shift into a gap, they create a lack of room in the jaw for the permanent teeth to come through. This can cause the permanent teeth to come in crowded and crooked. If left untreated, the condition may require extensive orthodontic treatment.
Space maintainers require keeping the area clean with good brushing and flossing around the appliance and avoiding sticky sweets or chewing gum. Advise your child not to push or pull on the space maintainer with the fingers or tongue and contact us if the appliance loosens or falls out. Dr. Meggan will check the appliance at each appointment and will re-cement it if necessary.