Prevention Tips for Children

 

Your first visit to Dr. Chapman's office promises to be a pleasant experience.  Many times patients are relieved to find out that their periodontal health is better than they thought it was!  Don't wait until it hurts.  The sooner you begin to get your mouth healthier, the better!  Gum disease frequently has no symtoms unless it is quite severe.

Making sound decisions about your dental care and oral health is an easy thing to do with the right preparation beforehand:

  • Make a list of questions to ask our office, so you don't forget anything on the day of your appointment. This includes any concerns you have, or oral problems you've been experiencing.

  • If you have dental insurance, remember to bring your insurance card with you.  Also, if your dentist has given you X-rays or a referral form, please bring them with you as well.

 

Periodontics is a dental specialty that involves the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth or their substitutes and the maintenance of the health, function and esthetics of these structures and tissues.

Who is a periodontist?

A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease and in the placement of dental implants. A periodontist typically has had two to three years of additional training in diagnosing and treating gum disease and its associated problems. Periodontists are experts in the most successful techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease. Additionally, periodontists can perform cosmetic periodontal procedures to improve your smile. Often, dentists refer their patients to a periodontist when their periodontal disease is advanced.

During your first visit, Dr. Chapman will review your medical and dental history, as well as any medications you may be taking. This will be followed by:

  • A complete oral and periodontal exam of your gums to check for gum bleeding and swelling, and gum recession; your jawbone, to help detect the breakdown of bone surrounding your teeth; and your teeth, to determine their proper alignment and if any are sensitive, loose and how they fit together when you bite.
  • An assessment of the depth of the spaces, known as periodontal pockets, between your teeth.
  • X-rays, to show the bone levels between your teeth to check for possible bone loss.
  • Once the exam is completed, Dr. Chapman will in most cases immediately discuss with you his diagnosis and recommendations for treatment. He will answer your questions and you will have a thorough understanding of what your situation is and what needs to be done for optimal health. 


Treatment choices include:

  • Root Planing and Scaling, which is one of the most effective ways to treat gum disease when it is caught in its early stage, before it has progressed to significant bone loss. This is a thorough cleaning and removal of the disease -causing deposits on your teeth called tartar and is done by a dental hygienist. 
  • Pocket Reduction Treatment  (PRT) is without a doubt the most successful and time tested treatment for moderate and advanced cases of periodontal disease available today!  PRT is so effective because it involves the complete removal of tartar and the recontouring of the bone that supports the teeth to bring it back to the healthy shape that it is supposed to have.   Pocket Reduction Treatment is very beneficial when pockets are 5mm or greater.  With PRT the diseased pockets are very predictably reduced by 50%!  This allows your toothbrush to keep the now healthy pockets clean and leads to long term periodontal health!
  • Bone Grafting/Bone Regeneration is a very valuable procedure done at the same time as Pocket Reduction Treatment where Dr. Chapman places a special material into indentations in the bone caused by periodontal disease that commonly occur next to teeth.  Bone grafting helps to re-build some of the bone that supports the teeth.
  • Soft Tissue Grafts including: Connective Tissue Grafts which help to cover up the exposed root surfaces of teeth and can be a cosmetic problem as well as cause sensitivity;  Free Gingival Grafts, which move healthy gum tissue from one part of the mouth to another, and Pedical Grafts, which shift gums to cover areas where healthy tissue is needed.
  • Implants  are the most natural, most functional, best looking replacements for lost teeth that dentistry has today!  Think of an implant as a man-made tooth root that your dentist places a crown (cap) on.  Alternatives include a bridge where your dentist drills down on the teeth next to a space and the bridge is glued onto those teeth replacing the lost tooth in between.  This can lead to tooth decay (cavities) on those teeth, and can also put too much pressure on those teeth in some cases leading to additional tooth loss.  Another option is a partial denture, an appliance that you take out at night and put back in in the morning.  Many patients find that partials are cumbersome and difficult to chew with, not to mention unsightly.
  • Ridge Preservation  is done to help decrease the natural loss of bone that will occur after a tooth has been extracted.  This is commonly done in an area where an implant is to be placed.
  • Ridge Augmentation may be recommended if the bone where an implant is to be placed is too narrow and needs to be widened.
  • Crown lengthening is the lowering of the gum around a tooth, most often done so that your dentist can gain access to a cavity or fracture below where the gumline was. 
  • Cosmetic surgery is done to help reveal a beautiful smile where patients have too much gum tissue covering their teeth giving the appearance of very small teeth.  This is a  simple procedure that can have a dramatic effect on a persons smile!
  • Frenectomy is another easy procedure where excess gum tissue is removed from between the upper two front teeth that may be causing a spece to exist.  This is usually requested by an orthodontist who is trying to straighten teeth and close gaps between them. 
  • Fiberotomy is the easiest of all procedures again done at the request of an orthodontist to assist in the long term maintenance of straighter teeth. 

  

Infants

Infants should be seen by our office after the first six months of age, and at least by the child's first birthday. By this time, the baby's first teeth, or primary teeth, are beginning to erupt and it is a critical time to spot any problems before they become big concerns.

Conditions like gum irritation and thumb-sucking could create problems later on. Babies who suck their thumbs may be setting the stage for malformed teeth and bite relationships.

Another problem that can be spotted early is a condition called "baby bottle tooth decay," which is caused by sugary substances in breast milk and some juices, which combine with saliva to form pools inside the baby's mouth.

If left untreated, this can lead to premature decay of your baby's future primary teeth, which can later hamper the proper formation of permanent teeth.

One of the best ways to avoid baby bottle tooth decay is to not allow your baby to nurse on a bottle while going to sleep. Avoid dipping pacifiers in sweet substances such as honey, because this only encourages early decay in the baby's mouth. Encouraging your young child to drink from a cup as early as possible will also help stave off the problems associated with baby bottle tooth decay.

Teething, Pacifiers and Thumb-Sucking

Teething is a sign that your child's gums are sore. This is perfectly normal. You can help relieve this by allowing the baby to suck on a teething ring, or gently rubbing your baby's gums with the back of a small spoon, a piece of wet gauze, or even your finger.

For babies under the age of 4, teething rings and pacifiers can be safely used to facilitate the child's oral needs for relieving gum pain and for suckling. After the age of 4, pacifiers are generally discouraged because they may interfere with the development of your child's teeth.

Moreover, thumb-sucking should be strongly discouraged because it can lead to malformed teeth that become crooked and crowded.

Primary and Permanent Teeth

Every child grows 20 primary teeth, usually by the age of 3. These teeth are gradually replaced by the age of 12 or so with a full set of 28 permanent teeth, and later on, four molars called "wisdom teeth."

It is essential that a child's primary teeth are healthy, because their development sets the stage for permanent teeth. If primary teeth become diseased or do not grow in properly, chances are greater that their permanent replacements will suffer the same fate. For example, poorly formed primary teeth that don't erupt properly could crowd out spaces reserved for other teeth. Space maintainers can sometimes be used to correct this condition, if it is spotted early enough.

Brushing

Babies' gums and teeth can be gently cleaned with special infant toothbrushes that fit over your finger. Water is suitable in lieu of toothpaste (because the baby may swallow the toothpaste). Parents are advised to avoid fluoride toothpastes on children under the age of 2.

Primary teeth can be cleansed with child-sized, soft-bristled toothbrushes. Remember to use small portions of toothpaste (a pea-sized portion is suitable), and teach your child to spit out, not swallow, the toothpaste when finished.

Fluoride

Fluoride is generally present in most public drinking water systems. If you are unsure about your community's water and its fluoride content, or learn that it has an unacceptable level of fluoride in it, there are fluoride supplements your dentist can prescribe. Your child may not be getting enough fluoride just by using fluoride toothpaste.

Toothaches

Toothaches can be common in young children. Sometimes, toothaches are caused by erupting teeth, but they also could indicate a serious problem.

You can safely relieve a small child's toothache without the aid of medication by rinsing the mouth with a solution of warm water and table salt. If the pain doesn't subside, acetaminophen may be used. If such medications don't help, contact your dentist immediately.

Injuries

You can help your child prevent oral injuries by closely supervising him during play and not allowing the child to put foreign objects in the mouth.

For younger children involved in physical activities and sports, mouth guards are strongly encouraged, and can prevent a whole host of injuries to the teeth, gums, lips and other oral structures.

Mouth guards are generally small plastic appliances that safely fit around your child's teeth. Many mouth guards are soft and pliable when opened, and mold to the child's teeth when first inserted.

If the tooth has been knocked out, try to place the tooth back in its socket while waiting to see our office.  Remember to hold the dislocated tooth by the crown—not the root. If you cannot relocate the tooth, place it in a container of cold milk, saline or the victim's own saliva. Place the tooth in the solution.

First, rinse the mouth of any blood or other debris and place a cold cloth or compress on the cheek near the injury. This will keep down swelling.

For a fractured tooth, it is best to rinse with warm water and again, apply a cold pack or compress. Ibuprofen may be used to help keep down swelling.

If the tooth fracture is minor, the tooth can be sanded or if necessary, restored by the dentist if the pulp is not severely damaged.

If a child's primary tooth has been loosened by an injury or an emerging permanent tooth, try getting the child to gently bite down on an apple or piece of caramel; in some cases, the tooth will easily separate from the gum.

Irritation caused by retainers or braces can sometimes be relieved by placing a tiny piece of cotton or gauze on the tip of the wire or other protruding object. If an injury occurs from a piece of the retainer or braces lodging into a soft tissue, contact our office immediately and avoid dislodging it yourself.

Sealants

Sealants fill in the little ridges on the chewing part of your teeth to protect and seal the tooth from food and plaque. The application is easy to apply and typically last for several years.