Pediatric dentistry is the branch of medicine that deals with mouth care for infants and children. Pediatric dentists are similar to pediatricians. These dentists offer care for children up until they are an adulthood. It is just as important for children to see dentists regularly, as adults, because as the mouth and teeth form, preventative measures can be taken for future problems.
Mouth guards or occlusal splints, are a protective device use by dentists to protect a patient’s teeth. These devices are created to fit the individual bite of each patient. They have a variety of uses. One such use is teeth protection and restoration. Another use is to manage jaw pain due to TMD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) or other problems of the jaw. They are also used to create space before restorative surgeries and procedures and to help stabilize joints. Another use is for people who clench or grind their teeth at night, to prevent the teeth from serious damage. This device is often created using acrylic resin. Cheaper options are available such as soft acrylic, light cured composite and vinyl splints, but these are not as sturdy and are prone to damage and wear. Soft splints are often the option for children, because it allows for normal growth instead of hindering it like hard splints can. They are usually used to cover all teeth in both the top and bottom of the jaw, but sometimes, partial molds are used.
Mucoceles are cysts that form in the mouth. These cysts are harmless and often cause soft swelling. They are characterized as being soft, round and domed shape. Imagine that the superdome is in your mouth; only it is filled with mucus. Mucoceles are caused when a person’s salivary glands (the tube that transports saliva into a person’s mouth) becomes blocked or damaged. This causes mucus to pour out which build up and forms a cyst. Some things that could cause a mucocele are consistent biting or sucking on the cheek or bottom lip, a hit or blow to the face, among other things. They can show up in a variety of places such as the inside of the bottom lip, gums, the roof of the mouth, and under the tongue. There is not much to worry about with mucoceles because they often go away on their own. Sometimes they will gain in size. It is not recommended to treat a mucocele yourself. If you think you may have a mucocele and it does not go away on its own, then seek a dentist for help. They will do two things to fix the problem, remove the gland, and marsupialization, which is the process of helping form a new salivary duct.
A tooth’s soft tissue or nerve section is called the pulp. This includes the nerves, connective tissue, blood vessels, and reparative cells of the tooth. Pulp therapy is used to keep the tooth “alive” until the tooth will be lost, fall out and/or replaced. Injuries and cavities and the most common reasons for baby root canals (pulp therapy) in teeth. There are two main types of pulp therapy, pulpotomy and pulpectomy. Pulpotomy is the removal of the damaged or diseased tissue inside the tooth. The dentist will then use a disinfectant to help the nerve tissue that is left after the procedure. A crown is later added to the tooth to prevent further damage. A pulpectomy is more severe and is used when damage or disease has reached the root canal through the pulp. In this procedure, all the pulp is removed all the way to the root. The area is then cleaned and medicated and a crown is placed to protect the rest of the tooth.
If a mucocele like cyst forms on the mouth’s floor it is called a ranula. They are rare but are usually larger than mucoceles and can cause disruption to a person’s communication, bite and swallow. Like mucoceles, ranulas are caused when a person’s salivary glands (the tube that transports saliva into a person’s mouth) becomes blocked or damaged. This causes mucus to pour out which build up and forms a cyst. Ranulas are often pale blue and dome shaped. They can become rather large in size and may form lesions that can be centimeters long. These are usually painless unless a secondary infection occurs, but they can cause problems in other ways. Ranulas make it difficult to speak normally as they form under the tongue. This can cause speech and communication problems until the ranula goes away. Ranulas mostly occur in children and adolescents. Ranulas are removed by a professional, unless the ranula is small. Then marsupialization (the process of helping form a new salivary duct) is used if the original salivary duct does not reform.