Restorative Dentistry for Children
Restorative dentistry focuses on repairing the function and appearance of a damaged tooth. While there are many different reasons why teeth become damaged over time; in children, cavities and tooth decay are the most common reasons for needing restorative services. However, children can also have damage because of an oral injury, problems with tooth development, overcrowding, and other issues.
When your child needs restorative work to repair damage caused by a cavity or another issue, we have several different options available to use, depending on the nature and severity of the damage.
Composite (White) Fillings
Composite fillings provide an attractive alternative to metal that blends in with the natural coloration of your tooth. Made from tooth-colored material, composite fillings are fast and easy to install. The entire process can be completed in just one sitting.
To place the filling, your dentist will use a drill to remove the decayed area of the tooth. Then, they will fill the hole that is left behind with composite material, and shape it to seamlessly repair the damaged area. Using a special light, your dentist will harden and seal your repaired tooth.
Compared to metal alternatives, Composite fillings provide clear aesthetic benefits. Once in place, they are indistinguishable from your natural tooth. In smaller cavities, they normally last just as long as metal fillings. However, for larger cavities, metal still has greater longevity compared to composite materials. Talk with your dentist to find the best option for your child’s cavity.
Pulp Treatment (Pulpotomy/Pulpectomy/Baby Root Canal)
Our teeth are protected by a hard enamel surface. However, inside each tooth, there is a ‘pulp chamber’ that is filled with a softer material. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue.
When this pulp becomes infected, brushing and flossing will no longer help to repair the damage. Bacteria will continue to build up inside the tooth, causing pain and inflammation. An infection inside your child’s tooth can also easily spread down the root canals and into the jaw.
To treat an infection inside your tooth, your dentist will remove some or all of the pulp and seal the tooth against further damage. A pulpotomy removes only the infected pulp, leaving healthy material in the root canals. When the damage is more advanced, a pulpectomy removes all of the pulp from the tooth crown and root canals. This is often a preparatory step before root canal therapy. Once the pulp is removed, the tooth can be filled with a rubbery material for support, and to prevent further infection.
- For children who already have their permanent teeth: Pulp treatment is a restorative treatment that can save your child’s tooth.
- For children who still have their baby teeth: Pulp treatment protects and heals the tooth until it is ready to exfoliate, or fall out on its own. Although baby teeth will eventually fall out, it is still important to treat an infection because damage to the pulp can impact the development of your child’s permanent teeth later on.
When your child’s tooth is more severely damaged or decayed, a dental crown may be used to help protect the tooth from further harm. A crown is an artificial cap that completely covers and seals the tooth after it has been treated. Crowns are often used following another dental treatment, such as root canal therapy, to protect the tooth against further infection.
Crowns can be made from a variety of materials, including stainless steel, porcelain, composite material, polycarbonate, resin, and zirconia. Some crowns made from tooth-colored material will look exactly like a natural tooth. With various options, your dentist has the flexibility to choose the crown that will work best for your child’s specific situation.
Our first goal is to save a tooth, if at all possible. Fillings, pulp treatment, and dental crowns can help to repair much of the damage caused by tooth decay. However, in some cases, the damage is too severe, and there may not be a restorative option. When a tooth cannot be saved, it may need to be removed.
There are two types of tooth extraction: simple and surgical.
- In a simple extraction, the baby tooth is clearly visible in the mouth. Usually, only general anesthesia is needed to numb the area, and your child’s dentist will use a special tool called an “elevator” to loosen the tooth in its socket. Once the tooth is loosened, your dentist will gently remove it.
- If the tooth is partially or completely impacted, surgical extraction will be required. In this case, a combination of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and local anesthesia is normally used to sedate the patient while the tooth is removed.
Restorative dental procedures can help repair damage to your child’s teeth so they can have healthier teeth as they get older. After restorative treatment, we will talk with you about aftercare, to go over any changes to brushing, flossing, and oral care that will help to keep your child’s teeth in the best condition.
Call 908-735-6300 to schedule your appointment or click here to request an appointment online.