Making Children's Dentistry Fun!
George A. Gutierrez, DDS, PA
What is a pediatric dentist?
As a board-certified pediatric dentist, Dr. Gutierrez, has had an extra two years of specialized training after dental school. He has devoted time and energy to finish the strenuous process of being board -certified. He is dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through the teenage years.
With the additional education, pediatric dentists have the training which allows them to offer the most up-to-date and thorough treatment for a wide variety of pediatric dental problems.
How old should my child be to come to the dentist?
According to the America Academy of the
Pediatric Dentistry, your child should be seen by their 1st birthday or 6 months after the eruption of their first tooth.
Beginning dental care at an early age allows guidance for caring for your child's teeth and opportunities to address preventive issues that are important for healthy teeth and a pleasing smile. Early visits also help establish a positive relationship between our office and your child.
Why are baby teeth so important?
It is very important to maintain the health of primary teeth (baby teeth). Neglected cavities can cause pain and infection, and it can also lead to problems which affect the developing permanent teeth. Primary teeth are important for (1) proper chewing and eating, (2) providing space for permanent teeth and guiding them into position, and (3) permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles.
Why does my child need dental x-rays?
Radiographs (x-rays) are a necessary part of your child's dental diagnostic process. Without them, certain cavities will be missed. They also help survey developing teeth, evaluate results of an injury, or plan for orthodontic treatment. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable for your child, and more affordable for you.
On average, our office will request bitewing radiographs approximately once a year and panoramic radiographs every 3-5 years. In children with a high risk of tooth decay, we will recommend radiographs and examinations every six months.
We strive to reduce the amount of radiation received in a dental x-ray examination. We have invested in digital technology to reduce exposure and keep levels extremely small. The risk is negligible. In fact, the dental radiographs represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem. Lead body aprons and shields will protect your child. Today's equipment restricts the beam to the area of interest.
What are sealants, fillings and crowns?
A sealant is a clear or shaded plastic material that is applied to the chewing surfaces (grooves) for the back teeth (premolars and molars), where most cavities in children can form. This sealant acts as a barrier to food, plaque, and acid, thus protecting the decay-prone areas of the teeth. However, cavities between the teeth are not protected by sealants. As long as there is no cavity in the tooth, sealants will be recommended for all children.
If your child has a cavity, a filling is placed after the cavity is removed. Most of the time, the filling is a tooth colored (white) filling, but there are certain situations in which a silver filling is necessary.
In a primary tooth, if a cavity is too large to restore with a filling, a crown may be recommended or the tooth may need to be removed. If the cavity is too large and has involved the nerve of the tooth, then the nerve will be removed (pulpotomy) along with the cavity, and a crown will be placed. A crown can either be tooth colored or stainless steel. For front teeth, white crowns are routinely used for esthetics. For back teeth, stainless steel crowns are used for their durability and longevity. The purpose of the crown is to help provide structure for the tooth, to help maintain space for permanent teeth to erupt properly, and to help protect the remaining tooth.
All of these procedures are associated with a certain failure rate depending on the severity of disease, cooperation of patient during treatment, and individual response to the treatment. All treatment is recommended based on scientific criteria and clinical experience in the best interest of your child. If your child needs any of the above treatments, please talk to Dr. Gutierrez about any questions or concerns that you may have.
What about sedation?
Some children need a little more relaxing if their dental procedures are to be performed in an office environment. Sedation appointments will be opted for due to age of the child, cooperation, amount of work to be done, and type of work that is to be done. Sedation appointments can work wonders on a mildly nervous child and allow them to relax enough so the necessary work can be performed. Sedation appointments are morning appointments because YOUR CHILD CANNOT EAT OR DRINK ANYTHING PAST MIDNIGHT THE NIGHT BEFORE THEIR APPOINTMENT. The medications your child will be receiving to help them relax can make the stomach queasy. If food is present in your child's stomach, queasiness may be increased due to the acid that is present in the stomach after eating. This raises the risk of vomiting. Keep in mind however, that some children have sensitive stomachs and can still get queasy even without eating, but the stomach will be empty. Dr. Gutierrez will not sedate your child if he/she has a cough or a severe runny nose. The medications used are respiratory depressants ( slows the breathing down). If your child has had any respiratory illnesses before the appointment, please notify the front office or Dr. Gutierrez. When your child arrives for their appointment, they have not had anything to eat or drink, and are completely healthy, they will be given their "juice" (the medication) to drink. It takes approximately 45-60 minutes for the medication to start to take effect. During this time we invite you and your child to relax and play in our reception area. After the medication takes effect, your child and you will be brought back to the treatment area and be made as comfortable as possible. Your child will listen to music through our headphones or watch a movie through our video glasses based on their age and size. A mask will be introduced and placed on their nose for the administration of nitrous oxide and oxygen. Your child's vitals signs will be monitored throughout the procedure and your child will be alert and talkative. After the procedure, your child may have parts of their mouth numb and they may feel drowsy. We ask that you monitor your child for the remainder of the day.
What should be done about a cut or bitten tongue, lip or cheek?
Apply ice to bruised areas. If there is bleeding, apply firm pressure with a clean gauze or cloth. If bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes or it cannot be controlled by simple pressure, take the child to the emergency room.
If the child chews their lip, tongue or cheek area after completion of dental treatment, an antibiotic may be necessary. Please call our office.
What can I do about my child’s toothache?
Clean the area around the sore tooth thoroughly. Rinse the mouth with warm salt water or use dental floss to dislodge impacted food or debris. DO NOT place aspirin on the gum or on the aching tooth. If the face is swollen or the pain still persists, contact our office as soon as possible.
My child accidently knocked out her permanent tooth, what should I do?
If the tooth is knocked out, try to replace back into socket or if the child can hold it under the tongue until you come into our office.
Contact our office as soon as possible.
Our child has fractured his tooth.
What do you suggest?
Rinse debris from injured area with warm water. Place cold compresses over the face in the area of injury. Placement of Vaseline over the area of the broken tooth will aid in decreasing sensitivity. Locate and save any broken tooth fragments in milk.
Contact our office as soon as possible.