Regular dental exams and cleanings are extremely important for children in order to maintain their dental health. In our office, a routine cleaning visit consists of a thorough oral and dental exam. This includes a screening for oral cancer, an assessment of the gums and oral mucosa, a check for any growth abnormalities, visually checking for cavities in the teeth, and an orthodontic evaluation. Bitewing x-rays are taken of the back teeth in order to detect cavities in their early stages. Many times, if a cavity gets large enough to be seen visually, it could be already deep enough to be in the nerve which would greatly increase the cost to repair. The teeth are gently polished to remove plaque and then the teeth are bathed with a high concentration of pleasant-tasting fluoride. We have many flavors to choose from to satisfy event the pickiest of tastebuds. We recommend the routine check-up and cleaning to be every 6 months. Cavities tend to grow much quicker in children than adults, so an ounce of prevention is so much better than the pound of cure.
Your child’s first trip to the dentist is a very special time in their life. Just like the first haircut, it can be fraught with fright. In the days before, it is best prepare them with positive comments. Statements like – “It will be a lot of fun”, or “They will shine your teeth so you have a pretty smile” go a much longer way than -“Oh, it won’t hurt”. In our office, we go out of our way to make that first visit a special occasion. We don’t force anything on them, but we positively reinforce good behavior each time they try something new. We have TVs in the ceiling that can play cartoons. That goes a long way to soothing any uneasiness. Then, to cap off the visit, there is a trip to the treasure chest filled with toys. And hopefully, there will be a picture taken to display in the “No Cavities Club”. Having a good experience during the first trip to the dentist can be tantamount in having good behavior in future visits.
In my last blog, I discussed in-office bleaching. The other method for lightening teeth is done at home. There are over the counter products and ones that are professionally available at your dentist’s office. The over the counter products seem to work OK for teenagers and young adults, however, with older adults, the professional variety works much better. My speculation is that the stains have been there much longer and are more resistant to the bleaching process.
In our office, we make a custom tray, essentially an ultra-thin, clear mouthpiece to hold the bleach in the mouth. The bleach that we use is slightly viscous and sticky so it doesn’t run all over the mouth during use. I instruct my patients to sleep with the mouthpiece in all night. The process can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks, but the bleaching solution is not near as harsh as the in-office variety and is much kinder and gentler. This greatly reduces the incidence of sensitivity. Studies have shown that after six months, the results between in-office and at-home bleaching is exactly the same. And other studies have shown that patient satisfaction hovers around 96% positive for at home and less than 50% for in-office.