Dr. Maria Kim and her team love caring for their patients, and work hard to make sure each child is spoken to gently, treated with respect, and cared for as if they were our own child. We use simple words to explain procedures to our patients and make sure each parent or guardian is aware of the process as well.
Pediatric Cleanings & Exams
Preventative care is one of the simplest and most important ways to make sure your child’s teeth grow in strong and healthy. Giving them the proper tools and teaching them the right way to brush when they are young lays the groundwork that will create healthy habits they will carry with them into adulthood.
Most children have two cleanings a year, but children with a higher risk of caries may need more frequent visits.
During a checkup, will your child’s hygienist will clean their teeth and, if necessary, take x-rays and give your child a fluoride treatment. Dr. Maria Kim will perform an exam and review if any treatment is needed.
Digital x-rays help diagnose cavities while they are tiny, often allowing for less invasive treatment. If they are caught early enough, decay may be stopped with some minor changes to your child’s homecare routine.
Using digital x-rays, Dr. Maria Kim can look for teeth that haven’t erupted yet, make sure your child’s jaws and teeth are developing well, and monitor whether orthodontic treatment will be needed in the future.
Today’s digital x-rays expose your child to less radiation than ever before. Lead aprons and taking x-rays only when necessary further reduce your child’s exposure.
Topical fluoride treatments help keep your child’s teeth cavity-free between visits by strengthening the enamel. Depending on your child’s age, the fluoride may be brushed onto your child’s teeth or put into a foam tray and allowed to sit on their teeth. For younger children, a fluoride varnish is brushed onto the teeth. Fluoride varnish hardens when it comes in contact with saliva, forming a hard film that is brushed off later that evening.
Older children usually have a tray loaded with foam fluoride placed in their mouths for a specific amount of time along with a suction straw to remove any foam overflow and saliva. When the time is up, your child is told not to eat or drink for at least 30 minutes to allow the fluoride to work.
Dr. Maria Kim and her hygiene team are happy to answer all your questions about fluoride treatments and treatment options.
A frenum or frenulum is a small piece of tissue that attaches either the upper lip to the gum tissue or the tongue to the floor of the mouth.
In some children, this frenum or frenulum is attached too tightly and can pull on the lips or gums causing tongue-tie, problems nursing, speech issues, trouble eating or drinking, or cause pulling on the gums around teeth that can create a periodontal issue as the child ages.
During a frenectomy, Dr. Maria Kim makes a small incision in the frenum or frenulum, allowing for greater movement of the lips. Results are instant, and this simple procedure can be done in-office with a local anesthetic. The incision site usually heals in a few days with little to no discomfort.
Sealants help prevent decay by protecting the surface of the teeth, especially the back teeth where brushing can be more difficult for children. They are made of a clear, liquid resin that hardens when a special light is shined on it. This creates a smooth, hard surface that prevents food from settling in the grooves of your child’s back teeth.
Research has shown that sealants can reduce a child’s risk of decay in treated teeth by up to 80%. The CDC has even weighed in, stating that children without dental sealants may be 3 times more likely to develop decay in the same teeth than children with sealants.
How are Sealants Placed?
First, the tooth or teeth are washed, dried, and isolated with either cotton rolls or a rubber dam. Then the teeth are etched with a special gel that roughens the teeth, so the sealant material has a rough surface to adhere to. Once that is rinsed off, the sealant material is flowed into the grooves of the teeth and light cured. When all the teeth have been treated, Dr. Maria Kim checks for rough edges and makes sure floss can pass between the teeth.
Generally speaking, there are no side effects with dental sealants unless your child is allergic to one of the ingredients in the resin material, which is extremely rare.
Caring for your Child’s Sealants
Sealants are sturdy and should last up to 10 years, but may need replacing sooner, depending on your child’s lifestyle. Avoiding chewing on ice and hard candy can prolong their life and prevent chipping which might allow decay to sneak in and rot the tooth from the inside. Dr. Maria Kim will monitor your child’s sealants at each visit to make sure they are still intact.
While sealants don’t eliminate the need for proper homecare such as flossing and brushing twice daily, they can offer some protection and can even stop minor decay from developing further.
It’s estimated that over 20 million children take part in one after-school sport or another. With that amount of children engaging in sports and other activities like skiing, gymnastics, and martial arts, there is a higher chance of injury. Did you know that up to 20% of these injuries are due to fractured or otherwise damaged teeth?
Dr. Maria Kim can create a sports mouthguard for your child. After an impression of your child’s teeth is taken, her will fabricate a new mouthguard molded to custom-fit to their unique smile.
When worn regularly, your child can protect their teeth, jaws, and lips from injury. Your child only gets one set of adult teeth. Dr. Maria Kim can help you keep them safe.
Studies have shown that almost 33% of children aged 2 to 5 have had a cavity. Even though baby teeth are only around for a few short years, it’s still important to keep them healthy because they hold the space for your child’s adult teeth. They also help develop proper speech patterns and help your child chew.
The procedure is the same for a child as it is for an adult. Depending on the size of the decayed area, a local anesthetic may be given, and if your child has any anxiety over the procedure, we have some sedation options available to make the procedure more comfortable.
After the decay is removed, a special gel is used to clean and etch the surface. Once the filling material is in place, it is light cured, polished, and adjusted to make sure it doesn’t interfere with your child’s bite. Tooth-colored filling material is much like a natural tooth in texture and is matched to your child’s tooth color.
After treatment, it’s important to maintain a regular homecare routine of brushing and flossing twice daily, so your child’s restorations stay healthy and prevent any more decay.
An extraction can make both children and parents anxious, but they are a common procedure in most pediatric dental offices. Sometimes a child’s tooth has too much decay to restore, or they need a tooth or teeth removed to make room for orthodontic treatment.
Regardless of the reason, Dr. Maria Kim and her team will make sure you and your child are comfortable with the treatment plan.
After some local anesthetic, Dr. Maria Kim will remove your child’s tooth. If it is impacted or if it is a complicated removal, Dr. Maria Kim will discuss with you if sedation options are recommended.
Once the tooth is removed, Dr. Maria Kim will give you post-op instructions, and place a small piece of gauze over the extraction site to stop any bleeding and to help a clot form. Check and replace the gauze every 20 minutes until bleeding stops.
Here are some recommended tips for the first 24 hours after your child’s extraction:
- Use over-the-counter or prescribed pain reliever if recommended by Dr. Maria Kim.
- Give your child soft foods for the first 24 hours after their extraction.
- DO NOT allow your child to drink from a straw, rinse their mouths out, spit, or brush that area for at least 24 hours after tooth removal. This could dislodge the blood clot and cause a very painful issue called dry socket.
- Place an ice pack wrapped in a towel over the area for about 20 minutes to relieve swelling and discomfort.
- Immediately call our office if your child experiences fever, immense pain, or chills.
Maria Kim, D.M.D. always considers your child’s comfort regardless of the type of treatment they are receiving. Dr. Maria Kim will discuss their unique situation with you to determine the best way to help them receive the treatment they need.