Common Procedures

Topics on this page

Regular Exams and Cleanings | Crowns | Extractions | Fillings | Fluoride | Mouthguards | Nightguards | Root Canals | Sealants | Wisdom Teeth


exams and cleanings

Regular Exams and Cleanings

Regular exams are an important part of maintaining your child's oral health. During your child's regular exam, we will:

  • Check for any problems that may not be seen or felt
  • Look for cavities or any other signs of tooth decay
  • Inspect the teeth and gums for gingivitis and signs of periodontal disease
  • Perform a thorough teeth cleaning

Your child's exam will take about 45 minutes. Each regular exam includes a detailed teeth cleaning, in which we will clean, polish, and rinse the teeth to remove any tartar and plaque that have built up on the tooth's surface.

Visiting our office every six months gives you the chance to talk to the doctor about any questions you may have about your child's oral health. Regular exams are offered by appointment only, so please contact our practice today to schedule your child's next dental exam and teeth cleaning.

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Teeth Whitening 

Several recent studies have proven bleaching to be safe and effective for teenagers and young adults when done under the strict supervision of a dentist.

Some patients have temporary tooth and gum sensitivity. These symptoms usually disappear within 1-3 days after completion of the bleaching process. The dosage and the duration need to be strictly controlled in teenagers and young adults. Over the counter teeth whitening kits can cause severe problems such as irritation of the gums and surrounding soft tissue and can wear away the tooth enamel on your child's teeth due to the fact that these solutions have a very high acid content. The carbamide peroxide used in our office is manufactured by high quality dental manufacturers and we use desensitizing agents when we whiten teeth.

Who is a candidate? Dr. Angela will determine whether your child is a candidate for bleaching. Typical candidates are teenagers and young adults with yellow or discolored teeth, and those who want brighter teeth. However, the key is to have a realistic expectation before starting the process. Every person is different, with different habits and teeth.

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Stainless Steel Crowns

fillings

Stainless Steel Crowns are used in cases where a cavity has affected so much tooth structure that a composite filling material cannot be used to repair the tooth. These silver caps are placed on the back teeth. A crown covers the baby tooth completely and restores it to its original shape and size. It is important to be careful with home care (diet and oral hygiene), so that the gum tissue around the crown doesn’t become red, swollen, and irritated from plaque buildup.

Tooth Colored Crowns 

In some cases, the front teeth become severely decayed. In these cases, a tooth needs to be restored with a crown. Alexandria Children's Dentistry offers cosmetic tooth-colored crowns. Our office does not place stainless steel crowns on the front teeth.

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Extractions

extractionsThere are times when it is necessary to remove a tooth. Sometimes a baby tooth has misshapen or long roots that prevent it from falling out as it should, and the tooth must be removed to make way for the permanent tooth to erupt. At other times, a tooth may have so much decay that it puts the surrounding teeth at risk of decay, so the doctor may recommend its removal. Infection, orthodontic correction, or problems with a wisdom tooth can also require removal of a tooth.

When it is determined that a tooth needs to be removed, your child's dentist may extract the tooth during a regular checkup or may request another visit for this procedure. The root of each tooth is encased within the jawbone in a “tooth socket”, and the tooth is held in that socket by a ligament. In order to extract a tooth, the dentist must expand the socket and separate the tooth from the ligament holding it in place. While this procedure is typically very quick, it is important to share with the doctor any concerns or preferences for sedation.

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Tooth Colored Fillings

crowns

Alexandria Children's Dentistry uses tooth-colored composite material to restore small and moderate size cavities, fractured teeth due to trauma, and for some other situations diagnosed by Dr. Angela. Composite material is mercury free, durable, and aesthetic.

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Fluoride

flourideFluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay and in preventing plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth’s surface. A fluoride treatment in a dentist’s office takes just a few minutes. After the treatment, your child may be asked not to rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Depending on your child's oral health or the doctor’s recommendation, a fluoride treatment may be required every three, six, or 12 months.

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Mouthguards

mouthguard

Whether your child wears braces or not, protecting his or her smile while playing sports is essential. Mouthguards help protect the teeth and gums from injury. If your child participates in any kind of full-contact sport, the American Dental Association recommends that he or she wear a mouthguard. Choosing the right mouthguard is essential. There are three basic types of mouthguards: the pre-made mouthguard, the “boil-and-bite” fitted mouthguard, and a custom-made mouthguard from the dentist. When you choose a mouthguard, be sure to pick one that is tear-resistant, comfortable and well-fitted for your mouth, easy to keep clean, and does not prevent your child from breathing properly. Your dentist can show your child how to wear a mouthguard properly and how to choose the right mouthguard to protect his or her smile.

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Nightguards

nightguardIf your child often wakes up with jaw pain, earaches, or headaches, or if you see your child clenching or grinding his or her teeth, your child may have a common condition called “bruxism”. Many people do not even know that they grind their teeth, as it often occurs when one is sleeping. If not corrected, bruxism can lead to broken teeth, cracked teeth, or even tooth loss.

There is an easy, non-invasive treatment for bruxism: nightguards. Nightguards are an easy way to prevent the wear and damage that teeth-grinding causes over time. Custom-made by a dentist from soft material to fit the teeth, a nightguard is inserted over your child's top or bottom arch and prevents contact with the opposing teeth.

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Root Canals

root canalsIn the past, if your child had a permanent tooth with a diseased nerve, he or she would probably lose that tooth. Today, with a special dental procedure called “root canal treatment”, your child's tooth can be saved. When a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the pulp tissue and germs can cause an infection inside the tooth. If left untreated, an abscess may form. If the infected tissue is not removed, pain and swelling can result. This can not only injure your child's jawbones, but it is also detrimental to his or her overall health.

Root canal treatment involves one to three visits. During treatment, the dentist will remove the affected tissue. Next, the interior of the tooth will be cleaned and sealed. Finally, the tooth is filled with a dental composite. If the tooth has extensive decay, your doctor may suggest placing a crown to strengthen and protect the tooth from breaking. As long as your child continues to care for his or her teeth and gums with regular brushing, flossing, and checkups, the restored tooth can last a lifetime.

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Sealants

sealants

Sealants protect the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, especially the chewing surfaces of back teeth where most cavities in children are found. Made of clear or shaded plastic, sealants are applied to the teeth to help keep them cavity-free. Research has proven that sealants reduce cavities on the chewing surfaces of permanent teeth by 80%.

Even if your child brushes or flosses carefully, it is difficult - sometimes impossible - to clean the tiny grooves and pits on certain teeth. Sealants work by filling in the crevices and grooves on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This shuts out food particles and harmful bacteria that can get caught in the teeth, causing cavities. The application is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect teeth for many years. Dr. Angela will check the sealants during routine dental visits and recommend re-application or repair when necessary.

Sealants are only one step in a preventive dental routine. Brushing, flossing and regular dental visits are still essential to a bright and healthy smile.

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Wisdom Teeth

wisdom teethWisdom teeth are types of molars found in the very back of your child's mouth. These teeth usually appear in late teens or early twenties, but they may become impacted (fail to erupt) due to lack of room in the jaw or angle of entry. When a wisdom tooth is impacted, it may need to be removed. If it is not removed, your child may develop gum tenderness, swelling, or even severe pain. Impacted wisdom teeth that are partially or fully erupted tend to be quite difficult to clean and are susceptible to tooth decay, recurring infections, and even gum disease.

Wisdom teeth are typically removed in the late teens or early twenties because there is a greater chance that the tooth's roots have not fully formed and the bone surrounding the teeth is less dense. These two factors can make extraction easier as well as shorten the recovery time.

In order to remove a wisdom tooth, your child's dentist first needs to numb the area around the tooth with a local anesthetic. Since the impacted tooth may still be under the gums and imbedded in your jaw bone, the dentist will need to remove a portion of the covering bone to extract the tooth. In order to minimize the amount of bone that is removed with the tooth, the dentist will often “section” the wisdom tooth so that each piece can be removed through a small opening in the bone. Once your child's wisdom teeth have been extracted, the healing process begins. Depending on the degree of difficulty related to the extraction, healing time varies. Your child's dentist will share with you what to expect and provide instructions for a comfortable, efficient healing process.