X-rays are taken to gain information that a visual exam cannot provide. X-rays are needed to evaluate for cavities between the teeth, show unerupted, extra, or missing teeth, diagnose pathology, evaluate the results of an injury, and plan orthodontic treatment. Using digital X-rays and proper shields means the amount of radiation that is detected is very small (less than flying in an airplane or spending one afternoon outside). Depending on your child’s age, Dr. Dobbins will prescribe the appropriate radiographs per the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry guidelines. These X-rays may include a panoramic, periapical, or bitewings films.
Upper-lower periapical (PA)
A sealant is a coating applied to the chewing surfaces of the back molars. The sealant acts as a barrier to prevent food and bacteria from packing in the grooves of the teeth. Avoiding sticky foods, hard candy, and chewing on ice prevents the sealants and teeth from fracturing. Typically, sealants are prescribed on permanent teeth.
Dr. Dobbins recommends the application of fluoride varnish to prevent sensitivity after a dental cleaning, to help fight any cavity causing bacteria left in the mouth and to help re-mineralize areas that may have the beginning signs of decay. The frequency of fluoride application is dependent on the cavity risk of your child. Dr. Dobbins recommends that most children receive fluoride varnish twice a year.
If tooth decay is detected, Dr. Dobbins will recommend a treatment plan, which could include composite (white) fillings, pulpotomies (nerve treatments), extractions (tooth pulled/removed) and/or crowns (caps). Should your child need any of these services, our office will discuss the many available materials and procedures that we use to provide the most evidence-based dental restorative care.
Dr. Dobbins will administer local anesthetic (Lidocaine/numbing medication) for most dental treatments. If it will be your child’s first dental treatment experience and/or if Dr. Dobbins feels it would be beneficial for your child, the use of nitrous oxide/oxygen inhalation may be recommended.
Nitrous oxide/oxygen inhalation (“laughing gas”) is a safe and effective technique to reduce anxiety and enhance effective communication. Its onset of action is rapid, the effects are easily titrated and reversible, and recovery is rapid and complete. Additionally, nitrous oxide/oxygen inhalation mediates a variable degree of analgesia, amnesia, and gag reflex reduction. There are very few contraindications for using nitrous oxide/oxygen inhalation. Please ask Dr. Dobbins or a member of our team if you have concerns.
Following dental treatment, your child’s lip, cheek and/or tongue will be numb (asleep) for up to 2-3 hours. Care must be taken that your child does not bite, suck, pinch, scratch, rub or chew on his/her lips or tongue to avoid oral tissue trauma. If your child bites the oral tissue, it may look like a yellow strawberry for several days. This is not an infection. This is tissue regenerating. It takes 10-14 days for healthy oral tissue to grow. Keep the area clean, avoid salty and acidic foods and if necessary, Ibuprofen or Tylenol may be given.
Dr. Dobbins may recommend general anesthesia as an option to complete your child’s treatment. General anesthesia may be necessary for children with extensive dental needs who are extremely uncooperative, fearful or anxious, as well as very young children who do not yet understand how to cope in a cooperative fashion, or children with special health care needs. Our office partners with the pediatric anesthesiologists of Mobile Anesthesia Care to provide general anesthesia in our office.
When a tooth is removed early because of decay or crowding, Dr. Dobbins may recommend a space maintainer to prevent space loss and drifting of adjacent teeth. If your space maintainer is loose, schedule an appointment to have it re-cemented. This will prevent food from accumulating and causing a cavity. Avoid chewing hard and sticky candy so the space maintainer does not come loose.