Pediatric dental exams involve much more than just looking at your child’s teeth. Dr. Yolonda Cruz in Toronto provides pediatric dentistry service in the Toronto area. First, Dr. Cruz will perform a review of the child’s health history to determine if there is a need for any special dental care. Then, she will note the health and condition of the teeth, gums, soft tissues, head and neck. Dr. Cruz will also monitor the growth of the jaws and development of the teeth, and evaluate any oral habits, such as thumb sucking. Finally, Dr. Yolonda Cruz will use all of these factors to make a diagnosis and create a custom treatment plan and instructions for home care.
Pediatric Office Cleaning
Our Toronto hygienist will clean your child’s teeth to remove any plaque or calculus. Without treatment, this build up can cause gum disease and tooth decay. Dr. Cruz will also treat the teeth with fluoride to strengthen them and make them resistant to tooth decay. Dr. Yolonda Cruz recommends cleanings and fluoride treatments twice a year to maintain your child’s dental health and prevent tooth decay.
Oral Hygiene Instructions:
Prevention is an important part of your child’s dental care. Dr. Yolonda Cruz will provide instructions and tips on home dental care, such as brushing techniques. Dr. Cruz may also provide a list of foods and oral habits that your child should avoid.
Children may need x-rays more often than adults since their mouths are still growing and are changing rapidly. Children are also more susceptible to tooth decay due to sugary sweets and drinks. Dr. Cruz utilizes x-rays to survey erupting teeth, diagnose tooth decay, analyze the extent of an oral injury, or plan orthodontic treatment. Pediatric x-rays allow the dentist to diagnose and treat conditions that cannot be visually detected during an oral examination. If dental problems are identified and treated early, dental care will be less invasive and affordable.
At Dr. Yolanda Cruz Dentistry, we minimize your child’s exposure to x-ray radiation. We use lead body aprons and shields to help protect your child’s body, and our modern dental equipment is designed to focus the x-ray beam only where needed and filter out unnecessary x-rays. We also use of high-speed film and digital x-rays to help minimize radiation exposure.
For children with a high risk of tooth decay, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends x-ray examinations every six months to detect and treat cavities developing between the teeth. However, children with a low risk of tooth decay require x-rays less frequently.
Panoramic x-rays may sometimes be required to view the child’s entire mouth and jaws. It shows any permanent teeth that are missing, abnormal growth, extra teeth or other oral issues. A panoramic is typically scheduled when a child’s 6th year molars erupt and then once every 3-5 years after that. Sometimes a panoramic may be recommended if there has been physical trauma to the jaw.
At our Toronto dental offices, we use dental sealants to help prevent tooth decay. Sealants are a clear plastic coating that is applied to the chewing surface area of the tooth. Some teeth have depressions and grooves, making it difficult for your child to clean properly. We use dental sealants to fill these depressions to deter tooth decay. Application of the sealant is quick, painless, and can be effective for many years if your child practices good oral hygiene and avoids biting hard objects.
Tooth Colored Fillings:
Tooth colored porcelain fillings are ideal for use on teeth where appearance is the most important. They are also used to also repair chipped or decayed teeth anywhere in the mouth. The benefit of tooth colored fillings is that they closely match the natural teeth color.
Your child’s baby teeth are very important. They hold the spacing for the permanent teeth, help guide the permanent teeth into position, and allow for normal development of the jawbone and muscles. When a baby tooth is severely damaged from decay or trauma, Dr. Yolonda Cruz may recommend the placement of a crown over the baby tooth instead of a filling. A crown is more durable than a filling, and should last until the child’s adult teeth come in. Often times the crown results in less expense to the parent and less trauma to the child, since a filling on a weakened tooth may not last until the adult tooth comes in.
Stainless Steel Crowns:
Stainless steel crowns are silver colored caps which cover the whole tooth. Many pediatric dentists prefer stainless steel crowns to restore back teeth with extensive decay. Stainless steel crowns are the most durable, and will last until your child’s baby tooth falls out, around age of 12.
NuSmile Signature Crown:
A NuSmile Signature crown is a stainless steel crown with a tooth colored coating the front. This crown is best for restoring your child’s baby teeth in the front – so the smile looks natural. Your child should avoid biting hard foods, since the tooth colored coating can chip off.
A strip crown is made by first starting with a a clear shell, filling the shell with white composite filling material, then fitting it over the tooth. Next, we apply light to cure the material. Once the material has hardened, we then remove the clear shell, leaving the tooth colored strip crown. Although this restoration is the most cosmetically pleasing option, it is also the most fragile. Strip crowns are only feasible if there is enough natural tooth structure left once all decay has been removed and prepped for crown placement. Strip crowns are used to restore front teeth or teeth with decay on multiple surfaces.
This crown restoration is white plastic shell that we fill with white composite filling material, then fit the shell over the tooth. A curing light is then applied to the restoration to harden it. Unlike a strip crown, the white plastic shell is left in place.
Endodontic or root canal treatment is a dental procedure to save a tooth when the tooth’s pulp gets infected or injured by trauma, decay or other causes. The pulp contains nerves and blood vessels that supply nutrients and oxygen to the tooth. During treatment, the hollow area inside the tooth is cleaned, disinfected and filled.
Unless your child’s tooth is already about to fall out, Dr. Yolonda Cruz may recommend endodontic treatment on your child’s primary tooth in order to save it. Without treatment, your child will experience pain or discomfort, and possibly infection. We don’t usually recommend early extraction of the primary tooth because primary teeth are necessary for chewing and for learning proper pronunciation during language development. Also, if your child’s baby tooth is extracted too early, neighboring teeth can shift and make it difficult for the permanent tooth to grow in properly.
Your child may need endodontic treatment if he/she is feeling a toothache, sensitivity to hot and cold, or if the pulp has been exposed from fracture and the child is experiencing sensitivity. The type of endodontic treatment that Dr. Cruz may recommend depends on how seriously the pulp is affected, an evaluation of the tooth and the results of an X-ray.
Primary teeth or “baby teeth” are important for proper chewing, speaking and speech development. Primary teeth also maintain proper spacing for the permanent teeth and help guide the permanent teeth when they finally cut through the gums. So whenever possible, Dr. Cruz will try to preserve the natural baby tooth when treating for decay or damage. However, there are times when it is absolutely necessary to remove a baby tooth. Extraction of a tooth may be necessary in the following situations:
- The tooth is too damaged or decayed to be restored
- The tooth blocks the adult tooth from emerging
- Teeth need to be removed due to crowding or for orthodontic purposes
- Impacted or un-erupted wisdom teeth
Once we remove the tooth, neighboring teeth may start to shift, resulting in problems with spacing and growth and development. To avoid these problems, Dr. Yolonda Cruz may place a space maintainer.
Space maintainers are necessary when a baby tooth has been lost prematurely. A space maintainer holds open the gap where the permanent tooth will come in, and keeps neighboring teeth from shifting. Space maintainers can be fixed or removable, and they can be unilateral (fixed to one side of the mouth) or bilateral (fixed to both sides of the mouth). For our younger patients, we usually recommend fixed space maintainers.
Conscious sedation medications are available for children who are anxious and need help relaxing at the dental office. It helps increase cooperation and reduces anxiety and discomfort during dental procedures.