ALL ABOUT PEDIATRIC DENTISTRY
Dr. Dai and Dr. Matthews are pediatric dentists, specializing in the treatment and prevention of dental disease, as well as the overall oral health of children. Through extra years of schooling, training, experience, and certification, a pediatric dentist is uniquely qualified to treat the dental needs of infants, children, and adolescents.
Why Choose a Pediatric Dentist?
A pediatric patient not only has a different dentition than adults but he/she may have specific dental and behavioral needs that are unique to a child. These needs may include orthodontics, dental sealants, fluoride applications or home treatments, or just simply education in oral hygiene. In addition to treating existing dental problems, our office focuses on prevention through patient and parent education.
We like to feel that you and your child do not come to our office to have their “cavities fixed” but rather to prevent them. Our mission is to provide all of the educational tools necessary for our patients to enjoy a cavity-free future.
A pediatric dentist has an extra two years of specialized training after dental school and is dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through the teenage years. The very young, pre-teens, and teenagers all need different approaches in dealing with behavior, guiding their growth and development, and helping them avoid future dental problems. 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.
In order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than his/her first birthday. Of course, if there are any issues such as tooth decay or pain, please make an appointment with our office. 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 the dentist and your child.
With each subsequent visit, your child will mature and confidence and trust will most likely increase. Usually after
age 3, we will begin preventive care visits which include examination, cleaning, fluoride treatments, and appropriate radiographs.
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.
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.
With contemporary safeguards including the modern digital xray we use in our office, the amount of radiation received is 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 tothe area of interest.
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. The filling is tooth colored (white).
In a primary tooth, if a cavity is too large to restore with a filling, a crown may be recommend or the tooth may need to come out. 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. Dr. Matthews has pioneered a customized white crown for parents who do not want stainless steel in their child’s mouth. Since the market does not have a sufficiently strong white crown for pediatrics, Dr. Matthews adapts a stainless steel crown and customizes the white portion to exactly match your child’s mouth. 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.
General anesthesia may be indicated for children with extensive dental needs who are extremely uncooperative, fearful or anxious or for the very young who do not understand how to cope in a cooperative fashion. General anesthesia also can be helpful for children requiring significant surgical procedures or patients having special health care needs.
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.
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 stil persists, contact our office as soon as possible.
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.
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.
Whenever he or she is in an activity with a risk of falls or of head contact with other players or equipment. This includes football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, skateboarding, even gymnastics. We usually think of football and hockey as the most dangerous to the teeth, but nearly half of sports-related mouth injuries occur in basketball and baseball.
Our doctors will recommend the best mouth guard for your child.
Preventive Oral Hygiene Instruction:
This includes proper brushing, flossing and eating habits, ideal fluoride levels and the use of pit and fissure sealants. We strive to provide a fun, educational environment whose children learn about the importance of good dental hygiene.
This includes children’s fillings, crowns and prosthesis, including treatment of the often devastating nursing bottle decay. Dr. Matthews and Dr. Dai are committed to discussing all options before these procedures and answering all questions you may have. Always working towards the goal of your child’s healthy smile is our first priority.
Growth and Development & Braces:
As pediatric dental specialists, our doctors are experts on the growth and development of children’s dentition, jaws and craniofacial structures. Early growth and development evaluation may provide your child with a more positive experience should they need braces treatment from our pediatric dentists.
While our goal is to prevent dental emergencies, we understand that the need for urgent dental care is sometimes necessary and can be a stressful experience for both parents and children. We strive to handle dental emergencies promptly and with compassion.
Laser Dentistry for Children
Dr. Matthews is the first pediatric dentist in North Houston to utilize the new laser dental technology on a full time basis, and he has spent the last seven years mastering this technology. The “drill-less” system, called Biolase, is a revolutionary dental tool that uses a combination of laser energy and water to perform a variety of dental procedures with fewer shots and less anesthesia. In fact, 90% of the patients require no shots to remove decay and fill a tooth due to Dr. Matthews’ and Dr. Dai’s minimally-invasive technique! Minimal removal of tooth structure equates to a stronger tooth for the future!
Whether an accident happens during our normal business hours
or not, know that you can call us and have your child treated promptly.
Call our office at 281.376.2405. If it is after hours or on the weekend, a live answering service will contact the doctor on call. For orthodontic emergencies, there is always an orthodontic assistant on-call.
We have a list of frequently asked questions that are helpful.