Restorative Dentistry

Restorative Dentistry

Restorative dentistry refers to the procedures that prevent or treat diseased teeth by bringing them back to good health. It may also include the repair or replacement of damaged teeth. While sometimes people assume that this type of dentistry is only for adults, sometimes children require these types of treatments as well. The more information that parents have about restorative dentistry, the better they can help their child achieve quality oral health.

Restorative dentistry can be an option for saving a severely damaged tooth, preserving existing teeth so they won’t need to be extracted or sometimes a cavity is too large to be treated with a filling, and a more extensive treatment is indicated. Severe trauma to a tooth may also require more involved interventions. In these cases, your pediatric dentist may turn to other restorative dentistry methods.

Parents may think that it’s not a big deal if a baby tooth is lost prematurely, but that’s not the case. The primary teeth still play an important role in nutrition and speech, and they can affect the alignment of the permanent teeth.

Additionally, it’s important to address advanced decay in a tooth before it progresses even further, possibly leading to an abscess or even systemic infection throughout the body. When a tooth is severely damaged, the ideal outcome is to save it rather than to remove it prematurely, even if that tooth eventually will fall out anyway.

If a restoration is needed, it’s likely to be either a crown or, in a severe case, a root canal. Here’s what you can expect from each of these treatments. The treatments can be in-office or treatment at the hospital.

What to Expect During Restorative Dentistry?

Prior to any procedures, your dentist will perform a thorough examination and take radiographs (x-rays) to determine the extent of the problem. Once a treatment plan is put in place, it is time to prep the area. First, the dentist will apply a bit of numbing gel to the treated area before administering a shot. This shot will allow the child to remain awake but calm during the procedure. However, if extensive work needs to be done, then there may be a need for further sedation to ensure that the child is comfortable throughout the process. Treatment in this case will be discussed and may be scheduled at the hospital.

In-office treatment

Extractions
Extractions may be necessary for a variety of reasons. The common cause of tooth extraction in children is due to large cavities, infection, overcrowding, or orthodontic issues. This process is fairly simple and should be completed in under thirty minutes.

Fillings
Cavities are common in children. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood health problem. When children do develop cavities, they must be treated, even in primary teeth.

An untreated cavity is also likely to progress, and it can reach the tooth’s inner core, exposing the nerve and causing pain for your child. We prefer to take every step possible to save a primary tooth that has experienced decay rather than removing it. Often, this requires the dentist to place a filling in the tooth.

The process of filling a cavity in a pediatric patient is similar to the same treatment in an adult. Our dentist may have to remove some surrounding tooth material to make room for the filling. Rest assured that our experienced and knowledgeable dentists use a gentle touch while completing this part of the procedure.

Your child should not experience much discomfort while having a cavity filled, but if the patient has any fear about the procedure, sedation may be recommended to make it a more comfortable experience for child and parent alike.

Parents can choose metal or composite fillings for their children. Composite fillings are becoming increasingly popular, as they are tooth-colored and do not detract from the smile.

Your child should not experience much discomfort while having a cavity filled, but if the patient has any fear about the procedure, sedation may be recommended to make it a more comfortable experience for child and parent alike.

If your child is diagnosed with a cavity, it also presents a good opportunity for you to discuss preventive care with the dentist so that you can continue to take steps to reduce your child’s risk of tooth decay.

Parents should take tooth decay in a child’s primary teeth quite seriously. Have your child examined every six months for signs of decay, and talk to your dentist about a filling if your child is diagnosed with a cavity.

Once a cavity has been drilled out of a tooth, fillings are necessary in order to protect the rest of the tooth. Fortunately, cavities that can be correct with fillings are usually not a result of excessive decay, and the tooth can still be healthy for years to come. Silver or white fillings may be an option based on personal preference.

Sealants
As your child develops their permanent molars and premolars in the back of their mouths, we may recommend sealants be placed. These teeth often develop with deep groves in the chewing surfaces. A sealant works like a barrier between these deep grooves and the bacteria that cause decay. It is simple to place sealants and no anesthesia is needed.

Pulpotomy
A pulpotomy is a nerve treatment when there is deep decay, pain from an infected tooth, or when the decay is nearing the pulp of the tooth. If this procedure is not completed, it puts the child at risk of severe infection or completely losing the tooth.

Root canal
When infection has reached the tooth’s core, a root canal is often indicated. Unfortunately, the root canal has garnered a negative reputation among dental patients, but undeservedly so. With improved tools and techniques, today’s dentists can perform root canals with no more discomfort for the patient than a routine cavity filling. During this process, the dentist will access the tooth’s innermost pulp chamber, clear out the infection and seal the chamber with an inert rubber-like substance. After that process is complete, the dentist will place a crown for additional protection for the tooth.

Crowns
Children may need a crown if they have undergone a pulpotomy, have excessive decay, or have fractures in the teeth. A crown is a tooth-shaped cap that covers the natural tooth in cases of advanced decay. Crowns may be made of a number of materials, including porcelain, ceramics or metal. The dentist will prepare the tooth for the crown to be placed, which may involve drilling to remove decay and contouring the tooth to accommodate the crown. The crown is bonded to the tooth using a dental cement. The crown fits over the existing tooth in order to protect it and avoid having to remove it completely.

Space Maintainers
Some children either lose a baby tooth too early or their baby tooth simply never appears. If this happens, then a space maintainer must be put in place or else the surrounding teeth will crowd the area and prevent grown-up teeth from coming in.

Restorative Care Before & After Instructions
Restorative dentistry can include some extensive procedures which may make some children nervous. Parents can help by offering support to the dentist.

They can do this by:

  • Bringing a comfort item from home for the child to hang on to during the procedure

  • Opting to stay in the room with the child for additional support

Parents will be provided with clear instructions for follow-up care and how to promote proper oral hygiene to avoid future concerns. In rare cases, you may need to contact your dentist right away if your child spikes a fever, has severe bleeding, or excessive pain that doesn’t subside after 24 hours.