Making dental care easy for little patients.
Why is dental care important for young children?
Preventive dentistry is especially important for children. Because of the advances in modern dentistry such as fluoride, sealants and regular preventive dental care, children can grow up without ever having had a cavity and have the possibility of going their entire adult life with little-to-no need for dental treatment beyond preventive services. Because it is so important, our dentists and dental hygienists are committed to making your children feel comfortable in the treatment chair so they can benefit from a lifetime of excellent dental health.
Does my child need to see a pediatric dental specialist?
Because children need the services of a pediatrician for their medical care, parents wonder if they need a pediatric dentist (pedodontist) for their dental care. Our motto, “Creating generations of happiness through healthy smiles”; emphasizes our commitment not only to you, but also to your children. Crabtree Dental provides a full range of services for everyone in your family. In over 30 years of practice it has been necessary to refer only a few patients a year to a pediatric dental specialist for care. Unless your child has very specialized needs, rest assured that your dental home can also be their dental home. We work to ensure every child has a positive experience in our office. As our next generation of patients, we want them to enjoy visiting us and know that they can count on us to be their partner in taking care of their teeth and gums!
At what age do you start seeing children?
Our practice begins treating children as young as three years old, and we make every effort to ensure that their first visit—or “Happy Visit” as we call it—is a positive experience. Most children are completely cooperative and allow us to complete a full examination and cleaning. However, if all we can do on your child’s first visit is get them acquainted with the staff and count their teeth once they’ve hopped up into our magical moving dental chair. . . we consider that just fine. Sometimes a child needs to warm up to the idea. Experience tells us that a few months later when they are slightly older, your child will most likely be ready for the complete experience. We are confident that our dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assisting staff can meet most, if not all of your child’s needs. If in any case your child needs treatment of a truly specialized nature, we won’t hesitate to refer them to a pediatric dental specialist. And don’t worry; you will only pay for the dental services we perform on your child’s “Happy Visits”. It’s another way we work to create generations of happiness through healthy smiles, and that starts with happy experiences.
How can I take care of my child’s teeth before they see a dentist?
There are a few things you can do to get a head start on great dental health for your children.
- Watch for brown spots on your child’s teeth—they are often an indicator of decay. If you see brown spots on your young child’s teeth, take them to see a dentist.
- Avoid letting your child fall asleep with milk or juice in their mouth. When a child’s teeth are bathed in liquid for long periods of time, the sugar in the liquid can seriously damage their teeth.
- Brush your child’s teeth thoroughly and regularly. Here is a great resource on this topic from the American Dental Association.
- When you teach your children to brush their teeth, know that you are training them in good habits. They will not have the fine motor skills, focus, or discipline to take charge of their oral hygiene by themselves. You will still need to provide most of their oral hygiene care.
- If you ever encounter a problem with your child’s teeth, be careful making assumptions about the issue. Most problems should not be ignored simply because they are baby teeth that will eventually fall out. Although that may be the case, some problems can cause other significant issues, in addition to creating an unhealthy environment for incoming permanent teeth, so err on the safe side and visit our office to address the concerns.
When can I expect my children to get their primary and permanent teeth?
Teeth erupt at different stages of development in your child’s growth. For most kids, all of the primary (baby) teeth have erupted by age three. They begin losing their primary teeth around six years of age to allow room for the permanent teeth. The American Dental Association has tooth eruption charts you may find helpful in tracking your child’s progress.
How can dental sealants protect my children’s teeth from decay?
Sealants are an outstanding choice to protect teeth from decay. Take your tongue and guide it around your teeth and you will feel the pits and grooves in the chewing surfaces of your back teeth. These pits and grooves are part of natural tooth anatomy. Decay in these teeth is very common because food and bacteria get stuck in them. Painting the pits and grooves with a thin plastic liquid that hardens quickly effectively “seals” the tooth. When these crevices or pits are sealed it creates a barrier that protects the tooth from decay.
Sealants are recommended for children because they are in their most cavity-prone years. Insurance will often cover these procedures because they recognize the financial benefit to their plan. It is more cost effective to seal a tooth from decay than to restore it with a filling, root canal, or crown. Adults can benefit from sealants too, though insurance generally will not provide a benefit for an adult.
At Crabtree Dental, our hygienists are trained to screen children for sealants. They are watching at each preventive care visit for the eruption of a child’s permanent molars. Children’s teeth will erupt in stages; we will recommend sealants as soon as a molar has fully erupted. It is important to place the sealant before decay can attack the tooth. Once decay has set in, a dental sealant is no longer an option and the preventive opportunity has been missed. Once a tooth has been sealed we will examine the sealants at each preventive dental care visit to ensure they are intact, thereby shielding against decay.
Fluoride provides an excellent defense against tooth decay by protecting teeth from demineralization. Demineralization occurs when the plaque on teeth interact with the sugar in your diet creating acids that attack enamel. If there is already a minimal amount of damage to teeth caused by this acid, fluoride can also remineralize the enamel. Fluoride strengthens the enamel by accumulating in the demineralized areas. It is not as effective at remineralization as it is at protecting teeth from demineralization.
Children and adults are well served by receiving a minimum level of fluoride. Fluoride will protect the permanent teeth of children as they are being formed. Fluoride also protects erupted teeth from decay throughout a lifetime.
Fluoride in the water supply is monitored by the municipal districts in most of the Katy, TX communities that we serve. Fluoride can occur naturally in the water supply at varying levels. If levels are too low, public health authorities may add fluoride to the water supply to reduce the prevalence of tooth decay in a population. If naturally occurring levels of fluoride are too high a condition called dental fluorosis can occur. This can result in permanent little specks or streaks of white appearing on the tooth enamel. In severe cases, the discoloration is more evident and can have darker markings. The enamel may also be rough and pitted. This condition is commonly found in parts of West Texas where fluoride concentration in the water supply is naturally high. Cosmetic dental services can restore a smile affected by dental fluorosis.
During preventive care visits our dental hygienists will provide a fluoride varnish treatment on patients under the age of 19. This provides additional protection against decay and the immediate benefit of remineralization. If an adult is particularly susceptible to decay we may recommend an in office fluoride regimen to them.