Pediatric Dentistry

Professional Dental Cleanings and Examinations
Tooth decay occurs when bacteria, commonly known as plaque, accumulate on the surfaces of teeth. These bacteria feed on the sugars in food and produce acid as a byproduct. This acid can start to dissolve the enamel or outer surface of teeth. If plaque continues to accumulate and is not removed, cavities can develop over time. To prevent the process of tooth decay, the routine removal of plaque by a dental professional is recommended every 4-6 months.

Sealants are protective coatings that are applied to the chewing surfaces of teeth in children. Sealants are quick and easy to apply and require no anesthetics. When permanent teeth erupt into the mouth between ages 6-14, Dr. Helfrich may recommend “painting” the chewing surfaces of these teeth with a sealant material that acts as a protective shield. The chewing surfaces of teeth have deep grooves, fissures, and pits that are susceptible to cavities. If indicated, Dr. Helfrich may recommend sealants to prevent food from accumulating in these deep crevices and to discourage cavities from developing in these hard to clean areas.

A professional dental application of fluoride is highly recommended for patients of all ages, but especially in children. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that makes teeth less susceptible to decay. Fluoride can even reverse the early stages of tooth decay by remineralizing enamel. When applied topically to the outer surface of teeth, fluoride acts as a protective shield that helps counter the acidic breakdown of sugars by bacteria.

Stainless Steel Crowns
Stainless steel crowns are indicated for primary or “baby” teeth in children when significant tooth structure is lost due to decay. These crowns provide extra strength to primary teeth so that the tooth can be maintained until the permanent tooth is ready to replace it naturally.

A pulpotomy is a root canal for primary or “baby” teeth. When decay within a primary tooth is extensive, a pulpotomy is performed to save the tooth from an unnecessary early extraction. A pulpotomy is a short procedure where the decay and bacteria are removed from deep within the tooth. After a pulpotomy is performed, a stainless steel crown is placed to protect the tooth from further decay.

Space Maintainers
When a primary tooth is lost early, a space maintainer may be needed to ensure there is sufficient space for the permanent tooth to erupt. If space is not maintained, permanent teeth may shift creating a bite problem later in life.