Starting grade school is one of the most exciting milestones in a young child’s life: it signals a new era of independence, learning, and above all, growth. But in addition to personal development, this period is vitally important for the development of your child’s smile. At Lakewood Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, we’re proud to provide world-class dental & orthodontic care to children of all ages throughout Lakewood & greater Dallas. And whether your child is just starting grade school or flying through classes, we’re here to help them develop a fantastic smile.
During childhood, dental care is focused primarily on ensuring healthy development of the teeth and the smile. Your Lakewood pediatric dentist will keep a close eye on your child’s dental development, using examinations and dental x-rays to ensure everything progresses smoothly. We’ll also keep an eye out for any other issues that may develop such as cavities, orthodontic issues, and protective measures like athletic mouthguards.
During this period, we’ll likely ask you to bring your child in for a check-up appointment twice a year, although we may recommend a higher frequency depending on your child’s specific needs. During these visits, your board-certified pediatric orthodontist will carefully examine your child’s mouth to track their dental development and spot any problems that may arise. Then, your dentist will perform a thorough teeth cleaning to remove plaque build-up and prevent cavities from forming. Finally, we’ll talk over any concerns we may have and recommend potential treatments, if necessary.
In addition to in-office pediatric dental care, the oral hygiene habits your child develops at this age are vitally important to their smile. Not only is caring for baby teeth and new adult teeth important, but good oral hygiene at this early age helps to lay the groundwork and habits for a lifetime of healthy teeth. Your pediatric dentist will work with you to evaluate your child’s oral hygiene needs and provide any recommendations for at-home care or treatments.
Every child is different, and we’re proud to offer a diverse range of pediatric dental treatments to suit the unique needs of our patients. Whether your child simply needs checkups and cleanings or needs more extensive treatment like oral surgery, we’ll talk with you to help you understand exactly what your options are and choose treatments that you feel confident about. Our treatments include:
Routine dental check-ups are absolutely vital to dental health for both children and adults. We’ll schedule these appointments roughly every 6 months, and we’ll use them to evaluate your child’s growth, look out for problems that may develop, and talk over larger concerns like orthodontic issues. Additionally, one of our expert dental hygienists will perform a deep clean of the teeth to help eliminate cavity-causing plaque and bacteria build-up, paving the way for your child to develop a gorgeous smile.
Teeth cleanings are a great step for preventing cavities, but often, they aren’t enough. Cavities are the second-most common preventable disease in children, and four out of five cavities in kids under 12 occur on the chewing surfaces of the rear molars. This is because even with excellent oral hygiene habits, keeping the nooks and crannies of the molars clean and free of bacteria is almost impossible without specialized tools. Thankfully, dental sealants can help.
Fluoride is a mineral that’s vital to the health of teeth, as it reinforces the strength of the outer covering of the tooth, which is called enamel. Sufficient fluoride exposure helps to prevent cavities and keep teeth healthy and strong. Thankfully, the Dallas water supply contains fluoride – but some kids may need an extra dose. We can evaluate your child’s fluoride intake and perform in-office fluoride treatments to help strengthen the teeth, if necessary.
Ideally, we hope to prevent cavities from forming in the first place. But if a cavity does develop, we can treat it through tooth-colored fillings. Tooth-colored fillings blend in perfectly with your child’s natural teeth, and because the material bonds with the tooth structure, we can use much smaller fillings than are necessary with silver amalgam.
Dental sealants involve painting a thin layer of plastic-based dental resin onto the rear molars. While this barrier is thin and see-through, it’s remarkably tough and will prevent food particles and bacteria from reaching the tooth. Sealants have been clinically-proven to be a safe, comfortable, and remarkably effective treatment for preventing cavities, and they last for several years with just one sealant appointment.
In addition to visual exams, dental x-rays are one of the most important diagnostic tools we have as pediatric dentists. X-rays allow us to see what’s happening beneath the surface of the gums, and they make it much easier to spot problems like cavities before they’re detectable to the eye. At our practice, we’re proud to use safe, low-radiation digital x-rays. These reduce the level of radiation exposure by up to 80%. With digital x-rays, your child receives more radiation on a plane ride than they do under the x-ray machine!
Root canals get a bad rap. While you may have heard the popular expression “I’d rather have a root canal,” the truth is that root canals are a simple, virtually-painless procedure that can help us save a tooth that would otherwise be lost. Root canals are necessary when the bacteria from a cavity penetrates through to the center of the tooth and infects the soft, fleshy dental “pulp” inside the tooth. This may occur due to a cavity or a traumatic dental injury.
In a traditional root canal, your dentist would remove all dental pulp and fill the central chamber (called the root canal) with a biocompatible filling material. However, dental pulp contains nerves and blood vessels that aid in the development of teeth – so at our practice, we strive to save as much of the dental pulp as possible, minimizing the effect on your child’s dental development.
Thumb sucking is a perfectly natural, normal impulse for children, and most kids stop sucking their thumb naturally between age 2 and 4. But if your child continues to suck a thumb or finger past age four, it can cause the teeth to develop abnormally and create something called an openbite. This is characterized by the upper and lower front teeth failing to meet when the mouth is closed, leaving a gap in the smile and causing host of problems. We can use simple, pain-free orthodontic appliance therapy to prevent thumb sucking and help break the habit – no tears necessary.
A frenum, also called a frenulum, is a thin band or strip of fleshy tissue that connects the cheeks or lips to the gums or the floor of the mouth. Most people have a frenum in between their upper two front teeth. Sometimes, however, frenum can develop in other places, interfering with dental health and potentially causing discomfort and other problems. Our pediatric dentists can treat these issues both through surgical and nonsurgical means.
Sometimes, accidents are unavoidable. Serious dental injuries can occur in a split second, even if your child is doing only a relatively “safe” activity. And if they do, we’re here to help. If your child has a dental emergency, we encourage you to call us immediately at 214.446.6130. We’ll provide guidance and schedule you an emergency appointment as soon as possible. If you fear your child may be in serious danger or you have a dental emergency outside of our office hours, we encourage you to head straight to the emergency room.
While we focus on preserving the natural teeth whenever possible, in some cases, extracting a tooth is the best way to achieve a great smile. Thankfully, tooth extractions are a minor, routine surgical procedure, and we use anesthesia to ensure your child is comfortable throughout the procedure. We may opt to extract a tooth for any of the following reasons:
We love to see our patients doing what they do best out on the field – but unfortunately, even non-contact sports pose a risk for dental injuries. One slip can be all it takes to cause a serious dental emergency. But with a custom-made athletic mouthguard, we can reduce your child’s chances of a dental injury more than 60-fold! Unlike store-bought mouthguards, which may not fit correctly or provide adequate protection, our custom-made mouthguards are shaped to perfectly fit your child’s teeth, improving the comfort, reliability, and – of course – safety of the mouthguard. We can even make your child an athletic mouthguard that fits over braces!
Quality pediatric dental care is vital to helping your child achieve a great smile, and if you have more questions about the treatments we offer, we’re here to talk with you. Feel free to reach out to us at our contact page to learn more about our treatments or schedule an appointment at our Lakewood office. We’re looking forward to helping your child develop a beautiful, healthy smile that lasts a lifetime!