Regular or general dentists typically treat adults and tend to focus on problems more specific to permanent teeth. General dentists diagnose, prevent, and treat issues that arise with adult teeth, including overall general health needs.
Although both pediatric dentists and general dentists can provide dental care to children, their difference lies in the amount of training that each is required to complete. However, there are services that general dentists offer for kids. Read on to find out more about kids general dentistry services and general dentistry treatments in your area.
1. Dental Cleaning
Tartar is a hard buildup of plaque that forms on the teeth. Tartar forms below and above the gum line. The only way to remove tartar is to see a dentist for professional teeth cleaning. Regular teeth cleanings are important to maintaining healthy teeth and gums of your child.
In this procedure, your child’s teeth will be thoroughly cleaned to remove plaque and calculus, which can cause cavities and gum disease. After the cleaning, fluoride will be applied to the teeth to help protect and strengthen the weak areas against decay. For a healthy child, it is recommended to visit a general dentist at least every six months to evaluate your child’s oral health and development. However, if your child has special needs, the dentist may recommend more frequent visits to more closely manage your child’s oral health and give pediatric dentistry services.
Extractions are done only as a last resort in the case of severe tooth decay. If a primary molar is removed prematurely, a space maintainer will be placed. Some extractions are needed for orthodontic reasons to help facilitate tooth alignment when crowded teeth are present. Primary teeth are essential in maintaining the correct spacing in your child’s jaw for the permanent teeth.
Sealants are thin, white plastic coatings that are applied to the tops or chewing surfaces of back teeth and are highly effective in preventing tooth decay. The naturally occurring pits and grooves on the chewing surfaces of teeth can often collect plaque. These small grooves and cracks are the most susceptible to cavities in children and teens and benefit the least from topical fluoride. Sealants and fluoride work together to help prevent tooth decay. On average, sealants last for 5 to 10 years with proper maintenance. At every dental check-up, the dentist will check that the sealants are intact. To prolong the life of your child’s sealants, avoid crunchy foods, and avoid chewing on ice and hard candy.
In general, children need X-rays more often than adults. Their mouths grow and change rapidly. X-rays can often show weaknesses in the tooth structure that may not be visible with the naked eye. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends X-ray examinations every six months for children with a high risk of tooth decay. Children with a low risk of tooth decay require X-rays less frequently.
5. Tooth-colored Fillings
A tooth-colored filling is another children’s general dentistry service that is used to restore front or back teeth or where cosmetic appearance is important. Composites are used to repair fractured teeth and areas of decay. The shade of the composite restorative material is matched as closely as possible to the color of the natural teeth.
6. Stainless Steel Crowns
Stainless steel crowns are used to restore teeth that are too badly decayed to hold white fillings. When tooth decay on back teeth has been left untreated, teeth may have extensive damage to the enamel, dentin, and sometimes the nerve. In such cases, tooth-colored fillings are not a viable option, and stainless steel crowns are necessary. These prefabricated silver-colored crowns are fit; then cemented onto the primary teeth to prevent further damage until these teeth are naturally lost.
7. Fluoride Treatments
Cavities form when there is a weakening in the mineral composition of the enamel of your teeth. Fluoride promotes the remineralization of these decalcified spots, therefore helping to prevent cavities. Low levels of fluoride are found naturally in some bodies of water. Municipal water supplies are often fluoridated to a specific standard level. Fluoride can also be found in many household products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, and even some bottled water.
The dentist will monitor the development of your child’s teeth to prescribe the specific amount of fluoride that your child may need. In general, there is a careful balance between too much fluoride and too little fluoride. An excess of fluoride may damage developing teeth leading to fluorosis; while a deficit of fluoride leaves your child’s teeth susceptible to tooth decay. Fluorosis presents in various forms that affect developing permanent teeth by causing white spots to form.
8. Root canal
A root canal is a procedure to remove diseased pulp from your child’s tooth. The pulp is a tissue that contains nerves and blood vessels that fill the tooth roots. Each root secures your child’s tooth to his or her gum and jawbone. Your child may need a root canal if the tooth is damaged or infected. An abscess, cavities, or an accident or injury can also lead to a root canal. A root canal treatment can be done on baby teeth and permanent teeth. Baby teeth are meant to fall out on their own. If a baby tooth comes out too soon, your child can develop bite or speech problems. A root canal can help save the tooth and give it time to fall out when it is ready.
So this is all you need to know about general dentistry for kids. Now that you know the general dentistry definition, feel free to take your child for a dental visit regularly. Some of the adults common general dentistry treatments are the same as the ones used for children. However, for a better examination, it is recommended to take your child to visit a pediatric dentist.