Comprehensive exams are the equivalent of health checkups from your pediatrician. We count teeth during these exams to get a look at how your child’s teeth and jaws are developing, plus it helps kids relax and have fun in preparation for their cleanings. Kids especially love getting to take an up-close-and-personal look inside their mouths with our intraoral cameras. These cameras help us check for teeth that may be erupting in the wrong place or coming in too late, or for tiny signs of damage or decay, even way back at the molars!
While we’re counting teeth, we check all soft tissue for the subtle signs of oral cancer or other issues, look at your child’s bite for jaw or bruxism problems, and check for any indication of gum infection (periodontal disease). We also like to talk to both children and their parents about proper diet habits, at-home hygiene techniques, and what to look for to be proactive about possible dental problems.
Oral Cancer Screenings
You may think of oral cancer as an adults-only kind of problem because of its links to smoking and alcohol use. And while it’s true that the most common type of oral cavity cancer in adults, squamous cell carcinoma, is very rare in children, kids aren’t immune to oral cancers. Children, especially those who have been treated with radiation treatment for leukemia, are susceptible to tumors including lymphomas and sarcomas.
Salivary-gland tumors are also more common in children. We take this very seriously and conduct an oral cancer exam with head and neck screening on all new patients as well as during every hygiene visit.
Are cavities a normal part of growing up? We don’t think so! We believe prevention is the best medicine and encourage all parents to make sure their children’s teeth are protected and sealed with dental sealants. Dental sealants create a protective barrier that helps seal out plaque and bacteria. Sealants also fill deeper grooves and fissures to make tooth surfaces smoother and easier to clean. Plus, applying dental sealants can be a great way to introduce your child to dentistry.
It requires no drilling or disturbance of tooth structure. All we do is gently clean your child’s teeth and brush on the sealant. It only takes a few minutes, and it is completely painless. Your child will leave with a protected smile and a great feeling about visiting the dentist.
No matter how carefully we examine your child’s teeth, there could be trouble hiding under the surface of those teeth and gums. That’s why we recommend having x-rays taken at regular intervals. And don’t worry: Children’s Dentistry of Chattanooga offers only low-radiation digital x-rays. These x-rays expose your child to 1/10th of the radiation produced by traditional x-rays, plus the plates are a little smaller and easier to bite down on than old-fashioned dental x-ray plates.
We also offer panoramic x-rays which allow us to get a clear an overview of your child’s head, neck, jaw and oral cavity. Because no sensor is placed inside your child’s mouth this is an ideal x-ray method for very young children, kids who can’t tolerate bitewing x-rays, special needs children, or youngsters who have a strong gag reflex.
And to keep kids even more comfortable when they need restorations or orthodontics, Children’s Dentistry of Chattanooga has invested in the Lythos Intraoral Scanner. This digital scanner eliminates the need for gooey and hard-to-tolerate impression materials and instead captures all the necessary intraoral data we need for high-definition tooth surface and arch-geometry detailing.
Clean teeth! Even kids love that fresh feeling. But pediatric dental hygiene isn’t just about getting teeth clean. Cleanings are a sugar-bug buster, clearing away all the plaque and tartar that builds up between teeth, at the gumline, and in hard-to-clean areas like molar crevices and behind front teeth. This is super important because, no matter how diligent you are with home care, bacteria build up and can lead to tooth decay, gum infections, and even whole-body issues as the bacteria enter the bloodstream.
We use air polishers for most cleanings because it is so gentle and never disturbs the tooth structure. As an added bonus, air polishing is perfect for kids with braces because it cleans all around every tooth– and the wires and brackets! We also have an ultrasonic scaler for deeper cleanings when necessary.
Everyone knows that there is fluoride in toothpaste, mouth rinses, and sometimes in city drinking water. But what is it, actually, and what does it do? Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that not only fights–and sometimes reverses– tooth decay, it can also remineralize teeth! What makes that such a good thing? Life can be hard on teeth, even little ones. All day long, those precious teeth are under attack from food, drink, normal wear-and-tear from chewing and biting things, and minor injuries.
Fluoride varnish acts as a long-lasting strengthener to make sure teeth are as hard and strong as they need to be. Together with dental sealants, in-office pediatric dental Fluoride varnish turns your child’s teeth into superheroes! We recommend at least two treatments a year, preferably once at every cleaning, but we may suggest a customized schedule depending on your child’s needs.
Children’s Dentistry of Chattanooga offers many great ways to protect your child’s teeth, preventing cavities and keeping infection at bay. We also offer a tremendous way to help ensure your kiddo’s teeth aren’t damaged during sports or other physical activities – custom-made, dentist-designed mouthguards. Yes, these mouthguards are more expensive than the stock or boil-and-bite guards you get at the drugstore or from the sporting-goods supplier, but we believe every child in Chattanooga is worth it. Why? Stock sports guards are not only less effective, but they can also even be worse for your child’s teeth than not wearing a mouthguard at all!
Even boil-and bite guards leave your child more vulnerable to dental damage and physical injury. Custom-made sports guards are far more protective, even helping protect against concussions, according to a recent study conducted by the Academy of General Dentistry. “High school football players wearing store-bought, over-the-counter (OTC) mouthguards were more than twice as likely to suffer mild traumatic brain injuries (MTBI)/concussions than those wearing custom-made, properly fitted mouthguards.” (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140501101133.htm) Isn’t it time you invested in your child’s safety with custom-made sports guards from Children’s Dentistry of Chattanooga?
We really believe in keeping kids completely relaxed and comfortable during even the most complex procedures. Usually, we can achieve this through careful communication and a compassionate touch. But once in a while, children need a little extra help to prevent trauma or dental fears. That’s when we suggest one of our safe and gentle sedation methods. For more information, please visit our Sedation Dentistry page.
It started out as just another day on the playground… bike riding… playing a game of tag… when– blam! You have a dental emergency on your hands. Your kid is bleeding, a tooth is chipped, and the tears just won’t stop. What do you do? Call Children’s Dentistry of Chattanooga right away – even after hours. We always have a doctor available on call to guide you through. If there seems to be a head or oral injury involved, go directly to the emergency room.
If the injury is specific to teeth, and oral trauma is minor, we will fit you in as soon as possible– sometimes as early as the very next day. Take a deep breath, soak up any blood with a sterile gauze pad so you can get a better look at the injured area, apply ice, and if a tooth is knocked out, save it in some saliva or a glass of milk. We may be able to reinsert it!