GENERAL DENTISTRY in Birmingham Alabama
Prevention is the best defense for your smile. Trust Dr. Johnson and his entire dental team for your regular appointments and cleanings, and enjoy a lifetime of lasting oral health. Don’t wait for problems to appear before you seek dental care. Keep your smile healthy with preventative care from Dentistry for Awesome Kids.
In some cases, injury or decay damages a tooth extensively and an extraction is the proper treatment option to start you on the path toward complete dental health. We can remove your troublesome tooth and can give you the treatment options for replacing that tooth to complete your beautiful smile once again.
Wisdom Teeth Removal
Do you still have your wisdom teeth? Have you been putting off their removal? Dr. Johnson and Dentistry for Awesome Kids can help. At some point in your life, most everyone requires that their wisdom teeth be extracted as a measure of preventative dentistry. A number of painful and lasting problems can occur due to the arrival of wisdom teeth, but with today’s dental technology, this procedure has been improved to maximize your comfort and to speed along your recovery time.
Before extracting your wisdom teeth, Dr. Johnson will administer a local or general anesthetic, based on your own needs and on your patient history. He will then expose the gum tissue over the tooth, remove any bone covering the tooth, separate any connective tissue, and remove the tooth itself. If necessary, he will use stitches to close the surgical wound.
In most cases, your recovery from wisdom tooth extraction will only last a few days. Your Dentistry for Awesome Kids dental team will provide you with detailed information on the do’s and don’ts of recovery, and you will be prescribed medication to manage any pain. Finally, you will have peace of mind knowing you’re no longer at risk for the many problems wisdom teeth can present.
Damage to the nerve tissue inside of a tooth sometimes requires a root canal procedure. Despite the tales you may have heard regarding the procedure, most root canals are minimally uncomfortable, especially compared to the pain and discomfort you may have felt before the procedure. Your dentist at Dentistry for Awesome Kids takes advantage of advances in technology and in dental techniques that make root canal procedures more effective, while taking less time.
A root canal involves removing the soft tissue within the tooth–(the pulp)–when it has become infected and inflamed. Your dentist gently files the infected tissue out of the root canals of the tooth (where the procedure gets its name) and fills the void with an inert material. The procedure is completed with the placement of a filling or, in some cases, with a crown.
Many people who notice chipped or cracked teeth, but who don’t remember when the injury occurred, damaged their teeth while they were sleeping. Grinding or clenching your teeth during the night will cause your teeth to chip, crack, and even break. To keep you from seriously damaging your teeth, we recommend a dental appliance called a night-guard, which protects your teeth from grinding and clenching in your sleep. Our team takes great care in making sure you have a proper fit in order to prevent pain in your jaw joint. Do you also suffer from headaches? If so, you may find that a side benefit of your night-guard is headache prevention. Many headaches start during the night, caused by the extreme pressure generated as you grind and clench your teeth. Ask our team about having a night-guard custom created especially for you.
A tooth-colored filling is a safer, better-looking alternative to the silver/mercury fillings that today’s parents had as children. Tooth-colored fillings are made from a composite resin that can be molded and shaded to match your child’s tooth. Unlike silver/mercury fillings – which are wedged into place and which require removal of more tooth structure – tooth-colored fillings bond to your child’s tooth, creating a seal that helps protect the tooth, while retaining more of the natural structure of the tooth.
AGES AND STAGES
Baby’s First Visit
Your baby’s first visit is a simple visual exam to evaluate your child’s oral health and to determine his/her risk for developing dental disease. A gentle prophy cleaning is performed, and a fluoride application is given by one of our child-friendly dental assistants. Usually, no radiographs (X-rays) are taken at this appointment.
Feel confident about your child’s care as Dr. Johnson also looks for relatively common and uncommon infant oral conditions that you may not have heard of, such as: tongue-tie, missing teeth, abnormal teeth, inclusion cysts, natal teeth, iron stain, and more.
You will receive guidance to help you prevent potential problems, including dental disease, in your child’s future. Along the way, feel free to ask any questions you may have about your child’s new teeth and about their oral health. Let your infant become familiar with the dental office setting in a positive way, before he/she gets bombarded with negative propaganda from older siblings, from peers, or even from dental-phobic parents. Enjoy this primary prevention visit where dentistry is “fun”, and where future dental disease can be prevented!
Your cooperation is appreciated. Remember, good general health depends partly on the development of good habits, such as sensible eating, good sleeping routines, and exercise. In addition to these same good habits, you good dental health also depends on proper brushing, on regular dental visits, and on a good diet. These points and others can be discussed thoroughly during your child’s appointment.
When can I expect my child’s pearly whites to arrive?
When your baby was born, all 20 primary teeth were already present and developing in his/her jawbones. The first tooth to arrive is usually the lower front incisor, which usually erupts into the mouth at around six months of age (though it could be earlier or later). In fact, a few babies are even born with lower front teeth, which are called natal teeth.
What should I do when my child is teething?
Be prepared to deal with your child’s first oral event…teething! It usually happens without problem and is a completely natural occurrence. However, during the time your infant’s teeth start to come in, your child may become restless and fretful. Your baby may also start to excessively salivate and to exhibit the desire to put hands and fingers into his/her mouth. Relieve your baby or child with a clean teething ring; a cool spoon; a cold, wet washcloth; or a toothbrush. If your infant has a fever, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, or other unusual problem, those symptoms may not be related to teething. In that case, consult your family physician as soon as possible to rule out any other common diseases and conditions of infancy.
What should I do about pacifiers or thumb-sucking?
Thumb-sucking is a habit that often starts while your child is still in the womb. It is a natural instinct that helps prepare your infant for nursing. Infants and young children often use thumbs, fingers, pacifiers, or other available objects to satisfy their sucking needs. This can give your child a sense of security, happiness, and relaxation that can even lull them to sleep.
Most children quit their thumb/pacifier-sucking by age four, or at least by school age (due to peer pressure). At this stage, any dental problems (tooth movement, jaw-shape changes) that have resulted from your child’s sucking habit will usually correct on their own. If your child’s thumb-sucking or pacifier use continues past five years of age (or when permanent teeth arrive), full self-correction is far less likely, and there are possibly other issues that should be explored that may be perpetuating the habit. Stress may exacerbate the thumb-sucking problem, therefore, scolding your child for thumb-sucking is not recommended. It is better to use positive reinforcement to motivate your child to quit the habit. Finding and eliminating the source of stress can also be really helpful.
Other helpful tips:
- Breastfeeding – Wean your children from the bottle and breast at 12-14 months of age.
- Sippy cup beverages – Don’t let your child walk around for prolonged periods of time during the day with a sippy cup filled with anything but water.
- Juice – Don’t allow your child to drink more than 4-6 oz. of juice per day.
- Pacifiers – Never dip a pacifier into honey or into anything sweet before giving it to a baby.
- Cleaning infant’s gums – After feedings, wiipe your infant’s gums with a clean, damp cloth or with a baby “finger” brush…even before the first teeth erupt.
- Brushing teeth for children up to two years of age – Once teeth appear, brush your child’s teeth with a soft toothbrush twice a day once after breakfast and again before bedtime. Use only fluoride-free toothpaste at this age. Most infants under the age of two have not yet learned to “spit out” after brushing, and excessive swallowing of toothpaste can damage the adult teeth that are still growing under the gums at this time. Your baby can be placed with his/her head on your lap (with their legs facing away from you) in order to facilitate cleaning.
Like any parent, you worry about your child’s health. Don’t forget about their oral health as well. Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that you take your child to the dentist by his or her first birthday? While that may seem a bit early for your child to receive dental treatment, it’s important to remember that baby teeth are essentially place-holders for the adult teeth that are soon to come.
A lifetime of happy smiles starts at year one. Schedule your baby’s one-year dental appointment today, and give your child a healthy start.
2-5 years of age
- Brushing teeth: When your child is between the ages of 2-5, you should brush your preschooler’s teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste once after breakfast and once at night right before bedtime. The last thing your child’s teeth should touch before going to bed and for the rest of the night is the toothpaste from their brush. Use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, and smear it into the bristles with your finger to minimize the chance of swallowing the toothpaste. Brush your preschooler’s teeth for approximately two minutes each time. Teach your child to “spit out” the toothpaste as soon as possible after brushing.
- Proper toothpaste: For very young children (ages 2-3), avoid sweet-tasting children’s toothpaste that your child may be more apt to swallow, and instead use a pea-sized amount of adult toothpaste like Colgate Total®, which contains triclosan with additional antibacterial, anti-tartar, and gum health benefits.
- Supervision during teeth brushing: Young children should always be supervised while brushing and should be taught to spit out rather than to swallow toothpaste. You should brush your child’s teeth until they are 7-8 years old because your child lacks the manual dexterity to do so properly by themselves until that age. Brushing should last for approximately two minutes. Once you have observed that your child can properly brush on his/her own, let them brush independently.
- Flossing: Flossing should begin when and where teeth are touching. Back molars usually begin touching at ages 3-5. At this point, food can easily get trapped between the teeth, leading to cavities.
KIDS AND TEENS
6-11 years of age
It’s tooth fairy time! At around age six, your child will begin to lose primary teeth in the front, while also gaining permanent teeth in the front and back. Once the teeth start to touch (could be around ages 3-5), you should floss your child’s teeth (flossers work well). Children typically don’t brush along the gum line or by the back teeth, so pay special attention to these problem areas. However, almost 90% of cavities in permanent molars occur in the grooves; consequently, dental sealants are a great way to protect the permanent molars and the other teeth at risk of getting decay. Sealants are a white coating that is placed over the grooves of the teeth to prevent plaque and food from getting stuck, causing cavities.
KIDS AND TEENS
Up until your child is 7-8 years old, you should assist him/her while brushing because children often lack the motor skills to do it properly. After that, observe your child’s technique, assisting when necessary, until he/she can effectively brush without supervision. Brush your teeth at the same time to help teach your child to brush by mimicking you. Although a regular children’s brush is perfectly fine for cleaning teeth, sometimes a children’s electric brush can make the experience more fun for your child, increasing motivation to brush. Once again, tooth brushing should occur twice a day once in the morning after breakfast and right before bedtime. Brushing after snacks is ideal, too. At age six and above, brushing should take two minutes each time.
When brushing your teeth and your child’s teeth, place the toothbrush at a 45˚ angle towards the gum-line, using small, circular strokes. Brush the front of the teeth, behind the teeth and on the chewing surfaces. Don’t forget to brush the tongue to remove potential bad breath bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. Take two full minutes to brush properly.
During the ages of 6-11 and older, children become more active with sports, and dental injuries are very common. Ask our team about mouth guards to protect your child’s teeth during sports.
12-18 years of age
By 12-13 years of age, all of your child’s baby teeth are usually gone, and all of the permanent (adult) teeth have arrived except for the third molars (wisdom teeth), which most often arrive by age 21. As teens grow more independent and have further control of their diet and habits, it is common to see an increase in cavities. Soda, candy and lack of consistent or effective brushing and flossing is typically the culprit. Also during this time, self–awareness becomes more prominent, and your teen may notice if they have discolored or crooked teeth. Talk with our team regarding options for both braces and for whitening.
Additionally, we take a panoramic X-ray (radiograph) of your child’s jaws to check the development of third molars (wisdom teeth), and, when indicated, will refer your child to an oral surgeon for removal. Be sure to let our office know if your child is experiencing pain from their wisdom teeth.
Unfortunately, substance abuse may also begin during these ages (90% of adult smokers began smoking before age 19), so monitor your child for signs of tobacco or alcohol use. Finally, eating disorders are also common and can damage the teeth…in addition to causing many other serious issues. Please talk with our office regarding assistance with any of these common issues of adolescence.
Pulp therapy (also known in pediatric dentistry as a “baby root canal”) addresses issues with the internal structure of the tooth, where the pulp (made up of the nerve and blood vessels) is located. Often, these issues cause discomfort or pain when eating or when trying to sleep, and pulp therapy will give your child relief, restoring his/her ability to chew without trouble.
The most commonly used pulp therapy is called a pulpotomy. The goal is to maintain the vitality of the baby tooth. During this treatment, the affected nerve tissue in the crown of the tooth is removed. Although used less often, a pulpectomy is done when the entire pulp of the tooth is infected. The pulp from the crown, as well as the roots, are removed. The goal of a pulpectomy is to keep the tooth in the mouth for as long as possible, avoiding or delaying extraction.
In either case, after the pulp is removed, the space is filled with an inert material to maintain the structure of the tooth. Finally, a crown restores the functional shape of the tooth, restoring your child’s beautiful smile once again.
Special Needs Care
If your child has special health care needs, rest assured knowing that his/her dental needs are not necessarily any different than those of any other child. The difference is how your child’s dental care is delivered based upon their specific needs.
A child with special needs is defined as having a developmental or acquired physical, mental, developmental, sensory, behavioral, cognitive and/or emotional impairment that necessitates medical management, some kind of health-care intervention, and/or the use of specialized services or programs. This could include asthma, autism spectrum disorders, Down Syndrome and many others.
If your child has special health care needs, trust that your team at Dentistry for Awesome Kids makes sure to review your child’s condition, custom tailoring the delivery of care to fit your child’s specific needs. Dr. Johnson was a Sparks Fellows at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which specializes in the healthcare of children with special needs.
Before your appointment, please call to provide us with specific details about your child’s condition (whatever information you can provide would be helpful). Rest easy knowing that our team is well prepared for your child’s visit.
Some children are not able to have dental treatment performed in a routine office setting due to a variety of reasons. Some examples are very young children who have sustained a severe injury or those who have baby bottle tooth decay. Another example would be children who are mentally or physically disabled, such as children with autism or cerebral palsy. In some of these situations, oral conscious sedation is not feasible or possible, or it has been attempted but was not successful in managing a child’s behavior. When no other options are possible, dental treatment can be performed under general anesthesia at an outpatient surgical center. We will work with a board-certified anesthesiologist who will put your child to sleep. Our doctors are not involved in the anesthesia component but work in conjunction with the anesthesiologist to ensure your child’s safety. There are typically no shots and no pain involved prior to going to sleep. A child will simply breathe the “sleepy air” and fall asleep within 20-30 seconds. After going to sleep, we can take care of all of your child’s dental treatment, and they will not feel anything whatsoever. They will wake up in the recovery room and can typically go home two-to-three hours after surgery.
Most people who are unhappy with the appearance of their teeth do not realize the numerous ways that cosmetic dentistry can heal a smile.
Preventive dentistry relies on good oral hygiene and on regular dental care; and is important throughout your life, whatever your age.
Dr. Johnson and his team utilize the latest technological advances in dental equipment and techniques to ensure your satisfaction with your visit.