From their very first smile to their senior-photo grin, your child’s smile and oral health profoundly influence their daily health and function, development, and experience of well-being. With an emphasis on providing your child with personal, practical, and compassionate dental care, Dr. Shea and her team offer a broad range of pediatric dentistry services that are tailored to meet your child’s unique needs.
Preventative care is the key to helping your child experience a strong, beautiful, and healthy smile at every age and developmental stage. The cornerstone of general and pediatric dentistry, preventative care focuses on preventing common dental issues, such as cavities and gum disease before they happen in the first place. Along with providing you and your child with personalized and age-appropriate guidance for at-home oral hygiene techniques, Dr. Shea and her team provide preventative dentistry services that work to keep your child’s smile resilient and free from oral disease.
Along with twice-daily brushing and flossing, professional cleanings are one of the most effective ways to keep your child’s smile beautiful and healthy. During a professional cleaning, your child’s dental hygiene team removes hard and soft deposits of the bacterial buildup that causes cavities (known as tartar and plaque) from the tiny crevices and spaces that toothbrushes and floss can’t effectively reach. Along with preventing tooth decay and premature baby tooth loss, professional cleanings remove surface stains and help keep your child’s smile bright and shiny.
Used in topical over-the-counter dental products and professional treatments, fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that can help prevent tooth decay and strengthen and repair tooth enamel. Professional fluoride treatments deliver a concentrated dose of fluoride directly to your child’s teeth, as a fast, safe, simple, and pain-free cavity prevention treatment. Depending on your child’s age and cavity risk, Dr. Shea may recommend applying professional fluoride varnish or rinse two to four times a year, in conjunction with daily oral hygiene habits and routine dental visits.
Dental sealants are a safe, simple, fast, and pain-free dental treatment that help prevent tooth decay in your child’s back teeth (premolars and molars). A thin coating of clear, body-safe plastic, sealants coat and protect the textured and grooved chewing surface of your child’s back teeth, where food and bacteria can get trapped and cause cavities. When combined with routine dental visits and daily brushing and flossing, dental sealants can prevent up to 80% of cavities in your child’s back teeth.
From first words to first steps, your child’s earliest years are studded with developmental milestones that give you reason to celebrate and help you support and monitor your child’s well-being. Your baby’s first tooth and first birthday are no doubt moments you’re marking, and are the perfect opportunity to establish the foundation of your child’s lifelong relationship with oral health and dentistry.
For your child’s immediate and long-term well-being, the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that your baby has their first dental visit by their first birthday or within 6 months after their first tooth erupts (whichever comes first). Guided by her skilled expertise in pediatric dentistry, Dr. Shea offers 1-year-old evaluations to support your baby’s developing smile and milestone-specific needs and help them create positive associations with dentistry and oral health early.
During your child’s 1-year-old evaluation, Dr. Shea will review your baby’s health history and address any questions or concerns you may have about your child’s oral health. During the evaluation, you’ll hold your little one in the dental chair while Dr. Shea gently examines their jaws and any teeth that have erupted to ensure healthy development and the absence of dental or developmental issues. Dr. Shea’s team will also carefully clean any teeth that are present and provide developmentally specific guidance on how you can best care for your baby’s smile in between visits.
Also known as dental caries and tooth decay, cavities are the most common chronic disease of childhood and can cause an array of oral and overall issues if not diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. While most cavities can’t be detected by the naked eye, you can ensure your child’s teeth are healthy by maintaining daily oral hygiene habits, including twice-daily brushing and flossing, and a consistent schedule of routine dental visits.
Once a year, Dr. Shea’s team will take digital X-rays of your child’s teeth to monitor their oral health and development. Using less radiation than conventional X-rays while providing higher-resolution imagery, digital X-rays give Dr. Shea the most detailed picture of your child’s smile and ensure cavities are detected in their earliest stages for the most effective treatment.
Also known as tooth-colored fillings, composite fillings are a durable and aesthetically pleasing cavity repair treatment option that ensure your child’s smile stays strong and healthy. In the past, cavity treatment used to be finalized with a silver-colored amalgam filling, which requires more healthy tooth structure to be removed to accommodate the filling and didn’t blend with the appearance of natural teeth. Along with seamlessly matching with the color of your child’s natural primary or permanent teeth, composite fillings actually bond with your child’s tooth structure, meaning less tooth healthy structure needs to be removed to seal out harmful bacteria, prevent tooth decay from getting worse, and keep your child’s smile beautifully strong and healthy.
Like your own adult teeth, your child’s primary (baby) teeth contain delicate living tissues (known as pulp) that can become infected, inflamed, and painful when affected by deep tooth decay. Along with compromising the health and integrity of your child’s baby teeth, diseased tooth pulp can make it difficult for your child to comfortably chew, speak, and stay asleep. When left untreated, diseased tooth pulp can also cause your child to lose a compromised baby tooth prematurely, which can negatively impact the development of your child’s smile alignment, bite, and speech.
Also known as a “baby root canal,” a pulpotomy is a common dental treatment that removes damaged pulp tissue to relieve uncomfortable oral symptoms and preserve your child’s baby teeth until they’re ready to fall out naturally. Unlike a full root canal (pulpectomy) that removes tooth pulp in its entirety, a pulpotomy only removes pulp from the crown of the tooth (called coronal pulp) and leaves the healthy roots of the tooth intact, preventing your child from losing their baby teeth too early.
During a pulpotomy, Dr. Shea and her team will prioritize your child’s comfort and safety, using a local anesthetic and nitrous oxide (laughing gas) if wanted and appropriate for your child’s needs. Once your child is comfortable and relaxed, Dr. Shea will delicately remove diseased tooth pulp from your child’s tooth, sanitize the surrounding tissue, and seal the tooth with putty before completing the treatment with a stainless steel crown.
Stainless Steel Crowns
Though they’ll eventually fall out, your child’s primary (baby) teeth play an important role in their oral and overall development and should ideally fall out naturally. If your child’s tooth has been compromised due to severe tooth damage or decay, a stainless steel crown can restore function and promote the tooth’s natural longevity.
Also known as a pediatric dental crown, a stainless steel crown is a tooth-shaped cover that encases a compromised primary tooth, including one that’s broken, misshapen, or has just undergone a pulpotomy. Along with preventing further tooth damage and decay, stainless steel crowns are affordable, durable, long-lasting, and easy to place. Unlike the custom crowns used to repair adult teeth, stainless steel crowns are pre-formed into a range of various shapes and sizes, which means that crown placement can often be completed in a single dental visit and typically last until your child’s baby tooth falls out on its own.
Extraction of Primary Teeth
Though they’re meant to fall out naturally, sometimes one or more of your child’s primary (baby) teeth may hold on for too long and obstruct a permanent (adult) tooth from coming in comfortably and properly. Along with potentially causing your child orofacial pain, past-due baby teeth can negatively impact your child’s developing bite and the alignment of their permanent teeth.
To promote the healthy emergence of your child’s adult teeth, Dr. Shea may recommend extracting one or more of your child’s primary teeth. With an emphasis on your child’s comfort, safety, and positive experience, Dr. Shea and her team will first ensure your child is comfortable with a local anesthetic and, if needed, nitrous oxide (laughing gas) before precisely loosening and extracting the targeted tooth, and sending you and your child home with detailed instructions for an easeful recovery.
For adults and children alike, visiting the dentist can stir feelings of fear or anxiety. Along with integrating developmentally appropriate strategies for helping your child have a safe, comfortable, and positive dental experience, Dr. Shea offers nitrous oxide to help your child feel completely at ease while receiving the dental treatments they need.
Known commonly as laughing gas, nitrous oxide (N₂O) is a inhaled medication that creates a temporary sense of relaxation and happiness. Administered through a small facial mask that also delivers oxygen, nitrous oxide is both fast-acting and fast-fading, making it the preferred option for kids who are feeling nervous or fearful, have certain special needs, are undergoing multiple treatments during the same visit, or experience a strong gag reflex.
Once treatment is complete, your child’s dental team will administer pure oxygen through the mask for a few minutes to assist your child’s body in clearing out any remaining medication. Many children don’t experience any side effects of nitrous oxide, though occasionally some children will experience fatigue, headache, nausea, dizziness, sweating, or vomiting in the hours immediately following their visit. Dr. Shea and her team will provide you with detailed preparation and aftercare instructions to help prevent undesirable side effects and support your child’s most comfortable and positive dental experience from start to finish.
Planning your first visit?
Getting to know Dr. Shea and her team will be a fun and enjoyable experience for you, your child, and us. We will review your child’s history and make sure you are comfortable with our procedures and staff.