Helpful Pediatric Dentistry Tips!

Which Dental Procedures are Necessary or Unnecessary for my Child?

by Dr. Steve Whittemore, D.D.S. | Published October 5, 2021

While most parents are used to standard procedures of dental cleaning, x-rays, and fluoride treatment when they take their child to the dentist, from time to time your dentist may recommend other procedures. As a parent who wants the best for their child, it makes sense that you would want to understand the reasonings behind any out-of-the-ordinary dental recommendations. 

Below are some special pediatric dental procedures that you may be faced with, as well as an overview of some things that go into each of them.

Insight into Various Aspects of Special Pediatric Oral Procedures


Probably the most common non-standard procedure, cavities are an infection of the enamel. Bacteria react to sugars and other substances in the mouth, resulting in an acidic environment that eats away at the enamel and can damage gums. These areas on the teeth that are eaten away become weak and can cause holes to form. If left untreated, cavities can cause nerve damage and require more intervention. Cavities are the number one culprit behind more serious dental issues.

Cavities in Baby Teeth vs. Permanent

Some parents wonder if filling a cavity on a baby tooth is necessary, since the tooth will eventually be replaced. While this is true, it is also known that neglect of a cavity even in a baby tooth can spread to other teeth and result in long-term negative consequences on other areas of the mouth. 

When can Baby Teeth Cavities be Ignored?

If a cavity is discovered on a baby tooth, it is almost always recommended that it be filled and repaired in order to maintain oral hygiene and avoid long-term effects of an unfilled tooth. However, there are exceptions to this rule of thumb:

  • Tooth is Almost Falling Out – if the baby tooth is nearing its end and is close to falling out, it may be okay to leave the cavity alone.
  • How big & where is the cavity located – if the cavity is in early stages and is more of a ‘pre-cavity’, your dentist may recommend extra care with oral hygiene before a filling, crown, or extraction becomes necessary

Crowns/Caps on Baby Teeth

Sometimes recommended as a remedy to a surface-deep cavity or cavities, crowns or caps are meant to protect teeth from further decay and demineralization. They may also be used to help restore a broken tooth, or correct a tooth that is not growing in correctly.

Parents who have themselves received a crown/cap may worry that their child’s crown will involve a multi-visit procedure to complete the process. The reality is that a pediatric crown can usually be finished in one dental visit! Even so, if getting through a crown procedure seems hard to grasp, rest assured that Pediatric Dentists in particular are trained to handle all of the personalities, nerves, and all else that comes with kids in a dental chair. Contact our office today if you are concerned or have questions about pediatric crowns or caps, and we would be happy to help!

Primary Tooth Extractions

The reason your dentist may recommend a pediatric tooth extraction is usually only in cases of severe tooth decay, where a filling or crown will not do the trick. It may also be the case that an extraction of a tooth that is not growing properly will aid in the emergence of well-aligned permanent teeth.

Pulp Treatment

Formally called a pulpotomy, these pulp treatments nurse and treat infected nerves and blood vessels within teeth. These procedures are typically performed in the context of severe tooth decay or a damaged tooth after a bad fall or accident. 

Without pulp treatment, exposed, infected, or damaged nerves and vessels could cause bigger problems like the need to completely remove a tooth or get spacers. Pulp treatment allows a baby tooth to stay in place in order to aid future alignment of permanent teeth and keeps your kid’s smile intact! 


The tops of teeth used for chewing (towards the back of the mouth) contain small grooves that easily trap food and sugars and cause decay! Sealants work in tandem with fluoride treatments to maintain the strength of those teeth in particular. Sealants are easily applied and can last many years. 

Anesthesia for Pediatric Dental Procedures

In certain circumstances, your child may be best served by being anesthetized for a dental procedure. This may mean something like nitrous oxide or laughing gas, or could mean general anesthesia. While Pediatric Dental teams are specially trained to work with young children, part of that training is recognizing when the patient will receive better and more thorough dental procedure results if they are sedated. 

Parents and guardians are always a part of the conversation when it comes to opting for sedation during a procedure. At the Pediatric Dentistry of Central Iowa, our patients come first, and we are dedicated to giving our patients the best care; in some cases this means utilizing anesthesia, but sometimes may simply involve additional support from parents to keep a child comfortable.

Get a Pediatric Dentist Opinion on What is Necessary for Your Little One

Whether you are wanting a second opinion on what is best for your child’s dental health, or are simply due for a standard dental exam, contact one of our offices today to speak with someone on our team and schedule an appointment! 

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