From sweet treats to roughhousing to thumb-sucking, a lot of the things we associate with childhood can be rough on the teeth. Worse, baby teeth have thinner, softer enamel than adult teeth, which can make decay more likely. Some kids are more prone to tooth decay than others, but good hygiene should be a habit for everyone!
Luckily, a good dentist can help protect a child’s smile when hygiene alone doesn’t help. Common restorative dentistry procedures remove decay and weakness, address chips and cracks, and even tackle issues with spacing and structure.
If you’re wondering what to expect from restorative dentistry, we’ve got you covered. Let’s take a look at what this term means, why this type of dentistry helps, and what procedures are common.
What Is Restorative Dentistry?
As the name suggests, restorative dentistry focuses on restoring the teeth. Dental restoration can include techniques that remove damage or replace missing teeth. The goal is to improve tooth function and oral health overall.
Patients sometimes confuse restorative dentistry and cosmetic dentistry. Where restorative dentistry focuses on oral health and tooth function, cosmetic dentistry focuses on the superficial appearance of your child’s smile.
Why Do Kids Need Restorative Dentistry?
Given that kids have baby teeth that will eventually fall out, why do they need restorative dentistry at all? Why bother putting them through dental procedures for teeth that aren’t even permanent?
The answer is simple: baby teeth may fall out, but they still need protection!
Tooth decay, trauma, and damage can still cause pain in little mouths. In addition, the position of baby teeth can help adult teeth grow into the right place. With missing baby teeth, adult teeth may grow in crooked or crowded.
Kids also need their teeth for eating, as chewing is crucial for digestion. Teeth are also crucial for speech, which can already be tricky for young kids who are learning to talk!
Last, healthy teeth can protect the surrounding teeth from damage. Where teeth with decay can spread the decay to other teeth, healthy and straight teeth are easier to keep clean and bacteria-free.
When Should You See a Family Dentist?
In addition to your appointments for regular check-ups, you should know when to schedule an appointment.
If your child complains about sensitivity, it’s often a sign of tooth decay. This is especially true if the sensitivity is sudden and severe. Sudden tooth pain is another red flag.
A more obvious sign that your child needs dental care is trauma to a tooth. A cracked, chipped, or missing tooth is always more vulnerable to decay.
Common Restorative Dentistry Procedures
There are many different types of procedures, but here are some of the most common ones kids need:
Fillings are by far the most common and least invasive procedure for kids. After tooth decay takes root, your dentist will remove the decay and fill the tooth. This helps to preserve the tooth and protect the surrounding teeth.
Often, dentists use composite filling for this job. Composite filling is durable and matches the natural color of the tooth. However, you can talk to your dentist about other filling options as well.
If a fall or other form of trauma has damaged your child’s tooth, a dental crown can help. These protective caps can help hold a damaged tooth together. They also make biting safer and pain-free.
Your dentist may recommend either tooth-colored or stainless steel crowns, depending on the age of the child and the tooth’s placement.
A pulpotomy deals with the innermost section of a tooth, called the pulp. This part of the tooth contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. If a cavity reaches this sensitive area, it can become painful fast.
Pulpotomies remove the infected part of the pulp. Dentists often perform this procedure on baby teeth to save the rest of the pulp from further damage. Often, this procedure is combined with a crown for extra protection.
What to Expect From a Procedure
Both parents and kids can sometimes be nervous about a restorative dentistry procedure, especially if it’s the first a child receives. Pediatric dentists are great at making sure these procedures are quick with as little discomfort as possible.
Feel free to ask your child’s dentist about the procedure. Talk to them about what the procedure entails and what kind of sedation they’ll use, if any. They may recommend nitrous oxide (also called “laughing gas”) for anxiety even if a child doesn’t need more extensive sedation.
On the day of your child’s appointment, keep your child comfortable with a calm attitude. The friendly staff at your dentist’s office will help put your child at ease during the visit. Your dentist will administer your chosen sedative, take care of your child’s teeth, and walk you through any steps for recovery.
Tips for Continued Care
For most procedures, you can expect your child to need only a short recovery period. After a filling, for example, they can often resume their usual activities the same day, though you may need to give them softer foods. Help remind them to be careful with the numb section of their mouth until they can feel it again.
Small amounts of pain can be common, depending on the procedure. Your child’s dentist may prescribe pain medication for more invasive procedures, so be sure to fill the prescription if you have one. For the first day or so, a cold compress can help ease any lingering pain as well.
Help your child resume their dental routine right away. Keeping the mouth free of bacteria is crucial for the healing process.
Trust Us for Restorative Dentistry
In addition to a good oral hygiene routine and regular exams, restorative dentistry can help your child maintain their beautiful smile.
When young patients need restorative dentistry, our team of dental experts is here to help. At Pediatric Dentistry of Hamburg, we create a positive environment where kids can feel safe and comfortable during any appointment. To learn how we can help, connect with us today!