Dental Care for Your Kids
At Every Stage of Their Childhood
Children have dental needs that are unique and distinct from those of adults. These needs begin before their first tooth arrives and continue on into adolescence. As your child grows, they will need various evaluations, preventive treatments, and dental care to ensure their continued oral health.
The team at Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry is always focused on your child’s well-being and comfort. From oral care for your baby to emergencies and more, our team provides dentistry just for kids. We have dedicated our practice to making certain your baby, toddler, child, or pre-teen has all the dental care and support they require in a relaxed, fun environment. No matter their age, we make sure they are well-prepared for their dental journey at each stage of life. Our expert pediatric dentists are always ready to assist with treatments and friendly advice.
Here is important information about your child’s dental milestones, what to expect at various ages, and several crucial services that we provide. Please contact us for further questions or to schedule an appointment.
Set sail for outstanding dental health today with the kids’ dentists at Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry!
Baby’s First Dental Visit
Parents frequently ask us when their child should first visit our office. The answer is “It depends!” Your little bundle of joy should come by for a checkup when their first tooth begins to erupt but no later than their first birthday.
This schedule may seem very early, but it’s important that we get your baby checked out as soon as their teeth start to appear. Not only can cavities strike as soon as the first tooth pokes through, but this first visit lets us perform a full, painless evaluation of your child’s mouth and jaw. Our dedicated pediatric dental team makes sure that everything is developing and growing properly, and we can get way ahead of any potential problems.
This first visit is also a great opportunity to get to know your pediatric dentist and voice any questions you may have. Furthermore, your child can use this time to become accustomed to our office and their dental team. Your child’s voyage to a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums begins at Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry.
Dental Care for Your Baby
It may seem odd, but good dental care for your new baby starts long before their first tooth shows up. Babies need their gums cleaned after each feeding. Just use a clean, damp cloth to wipe their gums gently with a single finger. This practice will help to remove residual milk or formula and help their mouths stay healthy.
When that first tooth finally pops through, it’s time to get a toothbrush. Choose a children’s brush with soft bristles, or you can use a “baby brush” that fits over your own finger. Use no more than a rice grain-sized portion of toothpaste, or follow the instructions of your Spinnaker pediatric dentist.
Remember that with the first tooth also comes the first opportunity for cavities. Always clean your child’s teeth before sleep, and never allow your child to sleep with a bottle. Also, stick to milk—and water when they’re older—and avoid sugary fruit juice and sodas.
As a parent, you always want to protect your kids. While you can’t dress them in armor every day, you can get a “suit of armor” for their teeth in the form of sealants. Sealants are polymer coatings that our team applies to molars or back teeth to protect against decay.
Why the molars? Because the molars are notoriously difficult to clean properly at home due to their location and numerous grooves. Not surprisingly, they are also the teeth most subject to cavities. Sealants cover the chewing surfaces of your child’s molars, guarding against decay.
Sealants are absolutely painless, and they require no drilling, injections, or surgery. We apply them in just minutes, and your child will benefit from their protection for years. Contact us now to find out if sealants could help your child avoid tooth decay.
Not all sealants are the same in quality, though. Low-quality sealants sometimes come off. They could crack or leak. The application of sealants matters too. That’s why our team is highly skilled in the placement of high-quality sealants that have shown year after year to reduce the overall risk of decay. We use air abrasion to clean the grooves of the tooth, techniques to keep the tooth dry, and high-quality materials to provide a lasting sealant. Experience matters too, as does the overall evaluation of the current state of your child’s teeth, gums, and oral health.
Thumb-sucking is a common occurrence. In fact, the majority of children suck their thumbs at some point during their childhood. This habit is a manifestation of the sucking reflex that children exhibit when bottle- or breastfeeding. Most of the time, children will quit thumb-sucking on their own, and the practice is nothing to worry about.
However, children that continue thumb-sucking or return to the habit once permanent teeth begin to arrive risk causing problems for those teeth. To help break your child of the habit, try providing positive reinforcement. For example, give rewards when your little one goes a full day without thumb-sucking, and use gentle reminders to discourage thumb-sucking when you witness the habit.
Of course, the team at Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry is always on deck, ready to help with advice and treatment options. If you’re having difficulty overcoming your kid’s thumb-sucking habit, please feel free to give us a call.
Pediatric Dental Emergencies
Accidents happen, especially with children, but we’re always here to help you navigate the rocky waters of your child’s dental emergencies. Any incident or condition that causes severe or unrelenting oral discomfort can be a dental emergency. Here are some examples:
- A tooth knocked out
- Broken tooth
- Oral swelling
- Bleeding that won’t stop
- Pus or abscess
If you encounter any of these problems, please call us right away. We’ll be happy to provide advice and let you know if you need to bring your child in for treatment. Remember, we are available for emergency care, so keep our number handy at all times.
No dentist ever wants to cause their patients pain, but pain-free dental visits are especially important in pediatric dentistry. We treat all of our patients with compassion and gentleness, and we want to set their course for a lifetime of excellent oral health by showing them that dental visits are nothing to fear. Our caring team and advanced technology allow us to ensure your child will receive care in a fun and relaxed environment.
For example, we use state-of-the-art laser dentistry for better clinical outcomes and patient experiences. Unlike conventional dental drills, our lasers work without intense noise and vibrations. Furthermore, our laser technology reduces bleeding, healing time, and patient discomfort. Whether employed for fillings or soft tissue treatments, such as gum recontouring, our young patients appreciate the benefits of laser dentistry. Plus, lasers are just COOL!
Happy gas is another way we help make our patients comfortable. Dentists have used this odorless gas with adult and child patients for many decades. Our happy gas is incredibly safe and provides mild anxiety relief and relaxation. The effects go away just minutes after treatment, and the gas is an effective way to overcome dental anxiety.
We understand that some kids need a little more help than others during dental visits. Perhaps your child has special needs or experiences extreme anxiety. In these cases, our dentists are happy to provide oral conscious sedation if needed. This sedation is in the form of medication that your child takes before their appointment. No needles are necessary, and the effect is mild. The sedation will not put your child “under” as with general anesthesia, but it will help them relax. They may even fall asleep during their treatment.
The sedation will wear off a few hours after their dental visit. Your child will need to stay home for the remainder of the day and refrain from any vigorous activity or sports. Please contact us if you’re interested in conscious sedation for your child’s visit. We’re happy to answer all your questions.
For special situations, we can also provide general anesthesia. This anesthesia will ensure that your child is asleep during their treatment and has no memory of the procedure. General anesthesia is appropriate for certain invasive surgical procedures and is always carried out under the supervision of an anesthesiologist, either in our office or at a nearby surgery center.
Cavities happen. They are often part of childhood and are nothing to be ashamed of. However, cavities need to be treated—even in “baby” teeth—to protect your child’s dental health and prevent future problems. A silver filling isn’t always the answer. If you want to preserve your kid’s gorgeous grin, consider our tooth-colored fillings.
A tooth-colored filling is made of composite resin bonding rather than silver amalgam. Silver amalgam fillings just “fill” the hole left by a cavity, but a tooth-colored composite filling is stronger. These fillings actually bond to the remaining tooth material for a more durable, longer-lasting filling. This bonding action also reinforces the tooth, so it is less likely to break or fracture in the future.
Of course, these fillings are also much more attractive than their old-fashioned counterparts. With tooth-colored fillings, you won’t have to worry about a dull, gray filling marring your child’s smile in school photos or holiday pics. In fact, our tooth-colored fillings are virtually unnoticeable!
Frenectomy—A Lip or Tongue Tie Revision
You dread every breastfeeding session. It feels like you’re forever feeding your baby, but neither of you are satisfied with the results.
Often, it’s not you. Some babies just need a little extra help when it comes to breastfeeding, especially if your baby has a lip or a tongue tie.
How do you know if your baby has a lip or a tongue tie? Slow weight gain in your baby is definitely a red flag that baby isn’t getting adequate nutrition. The underlying cause should always be investigated by your team of health professionals. When slow weight gain is accompanied by painful, prolonged, or uncomfortable breastfeeding sessions, a lip or tongue tie may well be the culprit.
In other instances, your baby is gaining weight and growing, but you’re experiencing pain at every feeding. You’ve had your baby’s latch evaluated, but something isn’t right. You are not going to be able to meet your personal breastfeeding goals if something doesn’t change soon.
Other symptoms include:
- Baby is struggling to latch or unlatches often
- Baby is worn out by nursing
- Baby has difficulty breathing while eating
- Baby makes a clicking sound while suckling
- Baby’s lip is white immediately after unlatching (this means the lip is tucked in during feeding)
- Nipple pain
With laser therapy, mothers and babies can find relief.
Revising a Lip or Tongue Tie
What is a lip tie? It’s a restriction in the movement of your baby’s lip due to a frenulum that is inflexible. A frenulum is simply a small strand of connective tissue that goes from the lip to the gums or from the tongue to the floor of the mouth. While a frenulum does not really serve any purpose, it normally doesn’t cause problems either. However, some kids can have trouble breastfeeding due to a frenulum that is either too thick or too stiff.
For example, in a tongue-tie or ankyloglossia, the lingual frenulum under the tongue may be too large. This condition can result in difficulties with bottle feeding, breastfeeding, and even speech development. Also, the upper and lower frenula in the front of the mouth may interfere with permanent teeth eruption or cause gum problems. Fortunately, there is an easy fix for these problems.
Our team offers a simple surgical procedure called a frenectomy. During a frenectomy, our dentists address the troublesome tissue to help resolve your child’s issues. Of course, we always use anesthetic and keep your child perfectly comfortable. We’re also happy to consult with your baby’s pediatrician or lactation consultant about their problem. Let us know if you suspect your child may be experiencing lip- or tongue-tie. We are always ready to help.
Why place a dental crown on a baby tooth?
This is an excellent question. Why would any parent want a crown placed on one of their child’s baby teeth when that tooth will only be around for a few years? Isn’t the treatment just a waste of money and time?
The truth is that baby teeth are not simply disposable. Yes, your child’s deciduous teeth will eventually be replaced by permanent teeth, but these “milk teeth” still need care. They require daily brushing and flossing, professional evaluations by your pediatric dentist, and sometimes crowns.
Treating your child’s baby teeth like they’re expendable can have lifelong negative consequences for your kid. Gum disease and tooth decay can advance to the point that these conditions threaten the underlying bone and even the permanent teeth that have not yet erupted. Additionally, neglecting problems with baby teeth can cause avoidable pain and discomfort for your little one.
So, if a baby tooth has become damaged through accident or decay, it may need a crown. You can trust the team at Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry to “crown” your little princess or prince with a protective dental crown made just for them and placed with absolute care.
Pulpotomy—A Baby Root Canal
There are times when a baby tooth needs some extra special help. For example, a tooth that has extensive decay or has suffered an accident can become inflamed or even infected. That’s right! Teeth are alive, and—just like any other part of your body—can get infected. The interior of your child’s tooth, known as the pulp, is living tissue made of blood vessels and nerves. It can be quite painful if this tissue becomes irritated or infected.
Often, the best way to relieve such pain is through a pulpotomy or root canal for a baby tooth. Our pediatric dentists will utilize our top-of-the-line dental laser to remove the inflamed or infected nerve tissue from your child’s tooth. This is called pulp therapy, and by using the laser we are speeding up recovery by targeting only the affected tissue for removal. Laser dentistry means less pain, less bleeding, less inflammation, faster recovery, and a more precise procedure than traditional pulp therapy. It also means less noise, no vibration as it is performed without a drill. Additionally, no caustic chemicals are used in the procedure. In an infected tooth, this pulp therapy not only controls pain, but it also treats infections. The treatment also allows your child’s baby tooth to continue normal development until it is replaced by a permanent tooth.
At the conclusion of a pulpotomy, our team adds a crown to your child’s tooth. This beautiful crown will restore the tooth’s attractive appearance, as well as protect the tooth against further damage and decay. The best part is our team offers your child a fun and relaxed experience that will keep them coming back to see us without tears.
There are times when it is necessary to remove a tooth. Sometimes a baby tooth has misshapen or long roots that prevent it from falling out as it should, and the tooth must be removed to make way for the permanent tooth to erupt. At other times, a tooth may have so much decay that it puts the surrounding teeth and jaw at risk of decay, so Dr. Cooper may recommend removal, as well as space maintenance. Infection, orthodontic correction, or problems with a wisdom tooth can also require removal of a tooth.
When it is determined that a tooth needs to be removed, our doctors may extract the tooth during a regular checkup, request another visit for this procedure, or refer your child to an oral surgeon for treatment.
The root of each tooth is encased within your jawbone in a “tooth socket,” and your tooth is held in that socket by a ligament. In order to extract a tooth, the doctor must expand the socket and separate the tooth from the ligament holding it in place.
SPECIAL NOTE: Dr. Cooper always says he “wiggles” teeth out; he doesn’t “pull” them out.
While this may be just a choice of words, this terminology will help your child with possible anxieties about an extraction. The extraction procedure is typically very quick, but it is important to share any concerns or preferences for sedation with your child’s doctor.
Once a tooth has been removed, neighboring teeth may shift, causing problems with chewing or with your jaw joint function. To avoid these complications, we typically recommend that you maintain the space for the permanent tooth by having a space maintainer made.
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“We have been seeing Dr. Cooper for 3 years and wouldn’t think of going anywhere else. My children just love Dr. Cooper, they get very excited to go when that six month check up comes around!”
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