Pediatric Dentistry

Preventative Dentistry

Our dentists suggest taking your children to a dentist for a regular dental exam every six months to ensure their long term oral health.

What is a dental exam?

A dental exam is what we call the time when one of our children’s dentists examines your teeth and gums for plaque, tartar buildup, cavities, and other oral ailments.

Why are dental exams so important?

Getting a regular dental exam is an important form of preventative dentistry, helping to catch problems before they happen.

While many people think that they can catch oral/dental health problems before they get serious, the truth is that the signs of trouble may not be so clear. Cavities may not always hurt, and plaque and tartar buildup is not always able to be removed by a toothbrush.

Having a professional (such as one of our San Antonio children’s dentists) examine your child’s teeth can help avoid negatively altering their appearance, and help you save money on correcting problems after they have formed.

And when you pair it with a regular dental cleaning and proper home dental care – you can ensure that your child has a beautiful and strong bite and smile for years to come.

How can I help my child prepare for a dental exam?

The best way to prepare for a dental exam is to practice good oral care at home, by regularly flossing and brushing your teeth at least two times a day and to make sure you do so before your visit.

Need help teaching your child proper dental hygiene techniques?

One of our friendly children’s dentists or dental assistants would be more than happy to help teach your child how to best brush and floss their teeth. Our goal is for your child to pass our dental exam with a bright, white, healthy smile!

We also provide a series of dental hygiene tips right here on our website for your own at-home use!

Dental Treatment We Offer

If you are suffering from a dental cavity, our dentists recommend getting a dental filling to prevent further damage.

What is a dental filling?

A dental filling consists of a natural looking restorative material used to repair and restore teeth infected with a cavity, or slight fractures or damage.

Why should I get a tooth filled?

Patients suffering from a dental cavity, fractures, or light damage should have their tooth filled immediately in order to prevent more extensive, long-term damage.

If left untreated a simple cavity can spread throughout a tooth, reaching the root (requiring a root canal) and in some cases other neighboring teeth. And when a tooth root has become infected, there is a chance that the tooth itself will be lost.

By having one of our dentists restore your child’s tooth, you increase the chances of their smile continuing to look and function well for many years to come—not to mention save you money on further restorative dentistry procedures.

When your child has begun to lose their baby teeth and the new ones are coming in, there is a chance that they could shift to an unnatural position.

If this occurs, our dentists will most likely suggest that your child get space maintainers to help keep their teeth in a natural, healthy position.

What is a space maintainer?

A space maintainer is a custom fit appliances that are made to keep baby teeth or permanent teeth from shifting into an unnatural position. They are typically made of either stainless steel and/or plastic, and can be removable depending on the case.

Why should I get a space maintainer?

One important function of baby teeth is to act as a guide for the permanent teeth to emerge into the correct position within the mouth. In some cases when a baby tooth is knocked out of its place due to trauma or is extracted due to infection, it might become necessary to place a space maintainer to allow the permanent teeth to emerge into their natural positions.

If your child’s teeth are not positioned properly, it could become difficult to eat and talk, as well as cause further difficulty for new teeth coming in.

How can I find out if I need one?

You can find out if your child needs a space maintainer by ensuring that they see one of our dentists every six months for a full dental exam and dental cleaning.

During these developmental years your child will receive regular X-rays to follow the progress of incoming teeth and ensure that their teeth are aligning safely.

If your child is suffering from excessive dental decay or fracturing, our dentists may suggest repairing the damage with a dental crown.

What is a dental crown?

A dental crown is a tooth cap/shell that is custom formed to replace the damaged part of a tooth’s surface.

For children the best crown to restore the back teeth with is a stainless steel crown (SSC). These crowns cover the entire portion of the tooth above the gumline and will stay on the baby tooth till normal tooth loss occurs. Baby teeth with stainless steel crowns will fall out just as normal baby teeth would.

In cases where crowns are needed for the front teeth we use all white composite crowns that have no metal and are all white. These white composite crowns have the appearance of natural baby teeth. Baby teeth with these types of crowns also will fall out just as normal baby teeth.

Why should I consider a dental crown?

If your child’s tooth surface is damaged beyond what a dental filling can repair, a dental crown is an advisable repair option in order to prevent infection or the loss of the tooth in question.

Losing baby teeth is normal for children, but it can lead to shifting in tooth orientation, which can affect their bite and smile. In addition, it can also lead to problems when permanent teeth are due to emerge.

A space maintainer can help alleviate these risks, in that scenario, but it is best to prevent the loss of teeth due to damage.

If your child is suffering from excessive tooth and jaw pain, they may be suffering from a damaged or decaying tooth root. Our dentists can help, with a root canal treatment.

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a procedure in which the infected areas of a tooth root (the nerve) are removed and then sealed to protect it from bacteria and further damage.

Baby root canals are much easier procedures to perform than adult root canals and are only done when the baby tooth is completely asleep from local anesthetic.

How can such extensive decay be spotted?

By visiting our office and having one of our San Antonio children’s dentists perform a regular 6 month dental exam and dental cleaning, you can increase the possibility of catching such decay early on.

Why is a root canal important?

If it has been determined that your child requires a root canal, it is essential that they get it done as soon as possible to prevent the complete loss of a single tooth or teeth.

Depending on which tooth and how deep the infection is it might become necessary to remove the entire nerve and living portion within the tooth (pulpectomy). In other cases, it is possible to remove just the top portion of the infected nerve and leave some healthy portions in the root tips (pulpotomy).

When the dental caries has reached the center part of the tooth the infection can spread to the bone of the jaw if left untreated. A root canal is done to prevent this from happening and otherwise having to pull the tooth out. Root canals are not 100% effective but rather closer to 90% effective.

We’re ready to help protect your child’s smile with our gentle and caring touch. Simply call us at: 602-861-3333 or schedule an appointment online. We can’t wait to see you!

Lythos Intra-Oral Scanner

Lythos Impression System effectively harnesses the power of digital scanning to capture intraoral data with accuracy and ease of use. No more need for messy impressions!

The lightweight and compact Lythos wand is ergonomically designed for us to see the interior of your mouth. It features an easy-to-clean touch screen for flexible viewing of models on screen and when entering your patient data.

Dentistry Guide

Educational Resources for Parents about Children’s Dental Issues

Read our growing library of features, graphics and other information about both general dental issues and those specific to children’s oral health.

Apples

Best Foods for Kids’ Teeth

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Best Foods for Kids’ Teeth

When it comes to dental health, what your children eat and drink – and even how they consume it – has a powerful impact on their teeth. And you may find some surprises on the list of good and bad foods.

The worst enemy of your kids’ teeth is acid, which can come directly from the food or drink, or is produced by tooth-damaging bacteria that eat sugar and convert it to acid. This acid is what creates cavities by eating away at the tooth’s protective enamel.

The best friends of your children’s teeth are foods and drinks that neutralize or rinse away acids, supply minerals and vitamins that repair tooth enamel and stimulate saliva production.

The Good Guys: The Best Foods and Drinks for Teeth

1) Water – When it comes to healthy teeth, water is indispensable. It’s the top ingredient in saliva, and is important to healthy teeth and gums. Water is valuable as the final rinsing agent for foods and sugary drinks, and, if fluoridated, works to prevent tooth decay by strengthening tooth enamel.

2) High-Fiber Fruits and Vegetables –High-fiber foods work like a detergent in the mouth, by “scrubbing” the teeth. It also stimulates saliva flow by requiring longer chewing times. Saliva is the first line of defense for teeth, because it neutralizes tooth-damaging acids. It also contains calcium and phosphates that help rebuild minerals leached away by acids. Crunchy, juicy fruits and vegetables also have high water content that helps offset their sugar content. And high-fiber foods are part of an overall healthy diet, so they offer a double benefit for your kids.

3) Dairy Products – Dairy products – without added sugar – help teeth in many ways. Cheese helps stimulate saliva, while its calcium helps replace minerals leached from teeth by acids. Other dairy products, such as milk, yogurt and similar products, also provide calcium and phosphates. Enriched milk also provides Vitamin D, which helps the body use calcium.

4) Xylitol – Sugarless chewing gums of any kind can help boost dental health, because they stimulate saliva production and can help “scrub” teeth. But those sweetened with xylitol – a type of sugar extracted from a variety of plants – can actually battle tooth decay. Xylitol has been shown to work against mutans streptococci, the primary bacteria that causes tooth decay. Besides being used in a number of chewing gums, xylitol is available as a general sweetener at health stores.

5) Teas, Coffee and Cocoa – Green and black teas contain polyphenols that interact with the bacteria that causes plaque. Polyphenols kill or suppress bacteria, preventing them from growing or producing tooth-attacking acid. The polyphenols in coffee also have cavity-fighting properties. Studies show cocoa to have strong anti-mutans streptococci properties, although chomping sugary chocolate bars isn’t tooth-friendly.

6) Going Nuts – Many nuts provide vitamins and minerals that help your teeth. These include peanuts (calcium and Vitamin D), almonds (high levels of calcium that helps both teeth and gums), cashews (stimulates saliva and helps clean teeth) and walnuts (fiber, folic acid, iron, thiamine, magnesium, iron, niacin, vitamin E, vitamin B6, potassium and zinc … wow!).

7) Mining for Minerals – Foods that provide vitamins A, C and D as well as calcium and phosphorus, are especially good for the teeth. These foods can be part of an overall healthy diet, as well. These include beef, eggs, fish, potatoes, spinach, fortified cereals, tofu, leafy green vegetables, beans, whole grains and poultry.

jelly babies

Worst Foods for Kids’ Teeth

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The Bad Guys: The Worst Foods and Drinks for Teeth

1) Carbonated Beverages & Other Drinks – Soft drinks are a perennial target of nutrition police, because they add so much sugar to the national diet. The sugar content in a soft drink – as much as a king-sized candy bar – is bad for both body and teeth. But even diet drinks aren’t safe for your teeth! Like their sugar-loaded cousins, artificially sweetened soft drinks contain tooth-damaging acids, such as phosphoric and citric. Even canned iced teas, which normally might be good for teeth, contain flavor-enhancing organic acids that can erode tooth enamel.

2) Not-So-Healthy Vitamins – Even so-called health drinks are brimming with danger for your kids’ teeth. Sports drinks are notoriously full of sugar and acids. And vitamin waters can contain as much sugar as a candy bar. Chewable vitamins – from multivitamins to large chewable vitamin C tablets – are especially bad, because they contain a concentrated acid that tends to cling to and between teeth.

3) Mouth-Drying Consumables – Your kids shouldn’t have to worry about the mouth-drying symptoms of a hangover, but many medications – including common psychiatric treatments – can also leave a dry month that endangers teeth and gums. One must to take extra care to keep the mouth hydrated, from deliberately washing with water or fluoridated rinses, to mouth hydration solutions.

4) Long-Lasting and Sticky Sweets – It’s not news that caramels and other gooey, sugary sweets are bad for teeth. It’s not just the sugar, though; it’s how long the teeth are exposed to sugar. So while those caramels stick and cling tenaciously to tooth surfaces and crevices, hard candies and lollipops are also very bad; they’re designed for a long, leisurely suck. This principle applies to any sweets, from candy to sweet drinks – sugar should stay in the mouth as briefly as possible.

5) Dried Fruits – While fresh grapes and plums are considered “good” foods, if they are dried, they go from hero to villain. Although often touted as healthy snacks, dried fruits like raisins, prunes and apricots, are similar to caramels. Already sweet when fresh, their sugars are highly concentrated as the water is dried away, and their gummy texture can cling to teeth as much as gooey candy. And worse, the fruit is packed with non-soluble cellulose fiber, which can bind and trap sugars on and around the tooth, making it worse than candy.

6) Starchy Foods – Many starchy foods, including white bread, potato chips and French fries and al dente pasta, can easily become lodged between teeth and in crevices. While they may not necessarily taste sweet, the starches can begin converting to sugar almost immediately, not only by the bacteria, but also by the pre-digestive process that begins in the mouth through the enzymes in saliva.

7) High-Acid Foods and Drinks – Citrus fruits and drinks contain powerful citric acid – in fact, such juice is often used as a cleaning agent. While oranges, lemons and grapefruit can be a healthy part of the diet, they should be consumed quickly, preferably as part of a meal, and the teeth should be rinsed afterward. Sucking on citrus fruits should be avoided; this especially applies to the “home remedy” practice sucking lemon wedges for tooth-whitening.

Girl drinking through a straw

Healthy Do’s and Don’ts for Kids’ Teeth

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Some Healthy Do’s and Don’ts for your Kids’ Teeth

1) Crunching ice and popcorn – Teeth are tough and made to last a lifetime eating a normal diet, but they do have a breaking point. Ice is tough – tough enough that glaciers carve mountains and an iceberg could peel open the Titanic. Chewing ice is a common habit; but even if this doesn’t cause a major break, it can lead to a network of tiny cracks that can develop serious problems as time goes on. Popcorn has its own dental danger, from husks that can easily become wedged between teeth to uncooked kernels that can damage teeth.

2) Use a straw/don’t swish – The impact of sweet and/or acidic drinks can be cushioned by getting into the habit of drinking through a straw aimed toward the back of the mouth. Swishing a drink through the teeth, however, intensifies the effect of both sugars and acids.

3) Use water as a mouthwash – Water makes the perfect rinse to clear sugars and acids after eating or drinking.

4) Be careful brushing – Brushing is recommended after every meal. However there’s an exception; if one has just eaten or drunk an acidic food or beverage, they should rinse with plain water to clear the mouth, and then wait at least a half-hour before brushing. After the acid bath, tooth enamel is more vulnerable to damage. Waiting a while gives saliva a chance to remineralize the teeth so the brushing doesn’t worsen damage.

Quick Action Vital for Tooth Injuries

Youth sports are popular and wholesome activities, but there is a risk for children’s teeth. Experts say about 3 million student teeth will be lost in any given year during youth sports.

The chances of saving a knocked-out tooth decrease after the first few minutes. This means that it is vital for parents, coaches and caretakers to be prepared to provide proper first aid.

The National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, about 3 million teeth will be knocked out as about 30 million youths participate in athletics this year. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General reports that craniofacial injuries account for a full third of all non-fatal sports injuries overall. And it’s not just football, with its violent clashes of pads and helmets.

“Basketball and baseball are the two biggest mouth-injuring sports,” reports Dr. Stephen Mitchell, of the University of Alabama’s Department of Pediatric Dentistry. “And the most common injuries we see are broken, displaced or knocked-out teeth, and broken jaws.”

In part, this is because mouthguards and face-protecting helmets are not required for many sports, as they are in football, hockey and lacrosse. Mitchell recommends custom-fit mouthguards as the most effective insurance against tooth trauma for youth with permanent teeth. For younger children, with baby teeth, he recommends over-the-counter mouthguards that can be heated and molded to the teeth since their dentition is in transition.

About a quarter of dental injuries can still occur with mouthguards in place. Quick first-aid action and dental treatment may save a lost tooth. And the cost of not acting quickly to save a permanent tooth can be dramatic.

The National Youth Sports Safety Foundation estimates that the cost to treat a lost permanent tooth and provide follow-up care ranges from $5,000 to $20,000 over a lifetime.

If a tooth is broken or cracked, parents should get the young athlete to the dentist within 24 hours. But if the tooth is knocked out, there is no time to wait. Action must be taken within minutes to have the best chance to save the tooth.

First aid steps include:

  • Speed – it’s best to perform the first aid within five minutes. By the time the tooth has been in the open air for 60 minutes, the window of opportunity is nearly gone.
  • Replace the tooth in its socket if at all possible. The best chance of saving the tooth is to get the root back into its natural habitat.
  • Don’t rub or even touch the root, or try to clean the tooth, which can damage the still-living delicate tissue
  • If you have milk, you can rinse the tooth with milk before implanting. But avoid water – it can cause delicate cells to burst. Do not place in or on ice.
  • If you can’t put the tooth back in the socket, you can have the child carry the tooth in the mouth, inside the gum, if the child is old enough not to swallow it.
  • If implanting or carrying the tooth in the mouth isn’t possible, carry the tooth in a medium to keep it safely wet, including Hank’s Balanced Salt Solution (or HBSS), milk, medical saline or saliva.
  • Go to the emergency room immediately, and follow up with your regular dentist for long-term monitoring of the healing process.
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