What is a Filling?
A filling is a dental treatment that repairs a cavity. When bacteria cause decay on a tooth, the decay slowly grows into the tooth by softening enamel. We call tooth decay a “cavity” because the decay can cause a hole in the tooth. In order to repair a cavity, our team will remove the bacteria and softened enamel, then fill in this hole, hence the common term “filling” for this dental treatment.
At Pediatric Dental Professionals, our composite resin filling material matches natural tooth colors and blends in beautifully. Fillings can also repair chipped, cracked or worn down teeth, and make cosmetic changes on teeth, like filling in small gaps or reshaping a front tooth.
What does the Filling Process Involve?
A filling appointment usually takes only one visit to our office. During a filling, our team works to ensure your child’s complete comfort throughout the procedure. Before removing the decayed tooth structure, we use a local anesthetic to numb any painful sensations from the tooth being treated. This means your child should not feel any pain or discomfort as we work.
To remove the actual decay, we use the traditional dental drill. Because of the numbness produced by the anesthetic, your child will only feel cold water spraying in their mouth. The amount of time we spend removing the cavity depends on the size of the cavity. Very small ones take a short amount of time, while large areas of decay may take longer.
Once the bacteria and decayed tooth structure is removed, we can restore the tooth. Dr. Robus will work with one of our skilled dental assistants to efficiently place the tooth-colored filling material. Then we shape and polish the newly placed filling until it feels smooth and natural against your child’s tongue.
What Should My Child Expect After a Filling?
Most likely, your child’s tooth will remain numb until after they leave our office. This is normal, as the local anesthetic works for a few hours. When this numbness wears off, they should expect mild-to-moderate tenderness and sensitivity on the newly filled tooth. It is common to have sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, as well as soreness when chewing for the first two weeks after a filling. Your child may also experience tenderness at the site where the dentist administered the anesthetic.
If any of your child’s symptoms linger for longer than two weeks, please contact us. Their comfort is our priority!
A pulpotomy is also known as a “baby root canal.” Similar to root canals for adults, pulpotomies are performed when decay is very close to the nerve, leaving the tooth vulnerable to infection. Our team will treat any infection with medication and removal of the decayed tooth structure. A permanent crown is then placed to preserve the structure of the tooth.
You may hear some people refer to a pulpotomy as a “baby root canal”. While it is true that this dental procedure performs some of the same functions as a root canal, it is certainly not the same procedure. Baby teeth are quite different from permanent teeth. One of the most important differences is that a baby tooth must fall out to make space for the underlying permanent tooth. A traditional root canal would prevent this from happening, which is why a different procedure is necessary.
Who Needs a Pulpotomy?
A pulpotomy is necessary when a baby tooth has a large cavity that reaches the nerve inside the tooth. Cavities are bacterial infections, and once the bacteria reaches the internal chamber of the tooth, where blood vessels and nerves reside, we must treat that soft tissue in addition to the hard tooth structure around it.
A pulpotomy removes the infected blood vessels and nerves from the internal chamber, but does not extend down the roots of the tooth the way a root canal on a permanent tooth does.
What Does a Pulpotomy Involve?
Your child will not experience any pain during a pulpotomy procedure. We use local anesthetic to cause numbness in the tooth requiring treatment. There is some drilling involved to remove the decayed tooth structure. We remove the infected soft tissue and treat the tissue in the roots. We fill the resulting opening with a calming filling material and cover the tooth with either a bonded filling or a crown.
Should We Just Pull the Tooth Instead?
The decision about treatment rests with the child’s parent or guardian. We will recommend a pulpotomy when a tooth should remain in the mouth to save space, aid in the development of speech patterns, and provide essential chewing surface. We will not recommend a pulpotomy on a tooth that would fall out in a short time.
Timing is important when it comes to treating baby teeth. Baby teeth serve many important purposes, so the younger a child is, the more important those teeth are. As the child grows, the consequences of losing a baby tooth early are lowered.
Dental Crowns for Children
As with permanent teeth, a dental crown is necessary on baby teeth that have lost a significant portion of tooth structure to decay or fracture. Crowns rebuild teeth to normal shape and restore their ability to function normally in chewing.
Because dental crowns on baby teeth do not need to last as long as permanent teeth, they are typically made from less expensive materials than those used for permanent tooth crowns. Dental crowns for children are usually either stainless steel or a tooth-colored plastic material.
The crown’s purpose is to maintain the tooth in a state of health until it would naturally fall out to make room for the permanent tooth. A crown allows the patient to keep a badly decayed baby tooth in the mouth for several years, allowing the mouth to grow normally, conserving space for the permanent tooth underneath, and providing good chewing function. These things cannot happen without a full complement of baby teeth in the mouth.
A dental crown procedure does not cause any pain to the patient, as local anesthetic produces numbness in the area of treatment. Unlike crowns for permanent teeth, dental crowns for children do not require multiple visits. Your pediatric dentist will treat the tooth from start to finish in a single visit. The dentist uses adhesive to cement the crown onto the tooth, and it should remain in place until the tooth falls out.
Emergency Dental Services
There are two broad categories of dental emergencies requiring urgent care: infections and injuries.
- Dental Infections – Both cavities and gum disease are bacterial infections. When they progress without treatment, they can lead to serious infections that spread far outside of the tooth and surrounding gums.
- Dental Injuries – Dental injuries can occur during contact sports, auto accidents, or even just taking a bad fall. These injuries often break or reposition teeth in the front of the mouth. They can also cause serious lacerations (cuts) in the soft tissues of the mouth.
Dental Emergencies that Require an ER Visit
Some dental emergencies are best treated at an emergency room or urgent care facility instead of our practice, as our team is limited in the emergency services we can provide. If your child has any large swellings of the face, tongue, and neck due to dental infections, take them to an emergency room right away. If your child endured a physical accident to the face like a cut that may require stitches or does not stop bleeding after you apply pressure with a gauze or towel, again, take them to an emergency room as soon as possible.
How Do I Receive Emergency Dental Care from Pediatric Dental Professionals?
Simply call our office at 512-346-9771! Our team is happy to help accommodate your child for an emergency visit as quickly as our doctors are available. During most emergency visits, our goal is to help your child reach a stable condition and minimize discomfort until we can proceed with final treatment at a later time.
It is extremely important for you and your child to complete any necessary follow-up treatment recommended by our team. It may be easy to forget once the pain subsides, but emergency dental care does not fully solve the problem.
Sedation Dentistry for Children
Sedation dentistry can sometimes be recommended for your child, depending on the extent of their treatment and tolerance level. Be sure to provide a thorough and up-to-date medical history of your child before their scheduled sedation so our team can ensure the best possible outcome for your child.
Nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas” is a common sedative inhaled through a mask over your child’s nose. Nitrous oxide does not put your child to sleep, it simply helps ease discomfort, reduce anxiety, and aids in numbing your child’s mouth.
Oral sedation is dispensed in a pill or liquid form and can be used in conjunction with nitrous oxide if your child is especially sensitive to pain or highly anxious. The sedation medication is dispensed by the dentist on the day of treatment depending on your child’s age and weight.
Sensitive Tooth Pain
Tooth sensitivity occurs when the tooth enamel erodes, exposing the underlying denting to a wide range of sensations. Sensitive teeth can make it difficult for your child to eat hot, cold, or acidic foods.
Tooth sensitivity is often caused by decay, frequently consuming acidic beverages (like fruit juices or soda), or a chipped, cracked, or broken tooth. When evaluating your child’s mouth, our team will examine the tooth, discuss your child’s diet, and offer options for easing discomfort. For example, if the sensitive tooth pain is caused by a cracked tooth, our team will begin the process of a dental crown or pulpotomy. We may also prescribe a special toothpaste to aid in sensitivity.
An extraction is the complete removal of a tooth from its place with the jawbone. An extraction may be recommended for your child if they have a baby tooth that won’t shed, severe tooth decay, or at the referral of your child’s orthodontist.
Your child should feel no pain during their extraction procedure. Local anesthetic removes the sensation of pain, temperature and touch, though they will likely still feel the pressure of the dentist pushing or pulling in the area. Our goal is to make your child feel as comfortable as possible. If your child suffers from dental anxiety, please talk to us about our options for sedation.