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Pediatric Dentistry: Common Treatment Options for Babies & Children

Alyssa Hill Headshot
Written by
Alyssa Hill
Medically Reviewed by 
Dr. Lara Coseo
4 Sources Cited

Common Pediatric Dental Procedures

Pediatric dentists encompass all aspects of oral health care for developing children. They perform many different procedures, depending on each child’s needs and medical history. 

The most common pediatric dental services include dental exams and cavity fillings. These dentists also specialize in tooth extractions, preventive, and restorative treatments.

Comprehensive Dental Exams

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that everyone should visit a dentist at least every six months.

Parents should begin scheduling dentist visits within six months of a baby’s first tooth eruption. This is typically between 6 months and one year of age.

During a pediatric dental exam, a child’s mouth is examined for:

Dental fillings, stainless steel crowns, or extractions will be recommended if cavities are detected. X-rays and disease screenings are also commonly used, depending on the patient’s age and medical history.

Fluoride Treatment

Fluoride is a mineral found in rocks and soil. During exams, dental hygienists apply topical fluoride to your child's teeth after a professional teeth cleaning.

Fluoride helps prevent cavities and keeps primary tooth enamel strong. It reduces the risk of dental plaque formation and buildup, resulting in tooth decay over time.

Cavity Fillings for Baby Teeth

Early childhood caries (ECC) are light brown and appear on the biting surfaces of primary molars. They can also form on anterior teeth, such as incisors or canines.

The bacteria from untreated tooth decay can also spread to other teeth, which results in more serious oral health conditions.

Treatment for cavities include amalgam fillings and composite fillings.

Baby Tooth Extractions

Baby teeth may need to be extracted if severely decayed or damaged due to an injury.

Another common reason for extractions is when primary teeth become over-retained. This is when teeth loosen and then tighten back into the gums, preventing the eruption of permanent teeth.

Space Maintainers

When a child prematurely loses a primary tooth due to decay, disease, or damage, space maintainers are often used to keep the space open in the gums.

Space maintainers also prevent overcrowding and misalignment as permanent teeth grow in.

Sealants

Sealants cover the chewing surfaces of back molars and form “physical barriers” on the pits and fissures of teeth. They are an effective, safe, and painless way to protect a child's teeth from developing cavities for up to 10 years.

Adults can also get sealants on their permanent teeth, but this treatment is less common.

Stainless Steel Crowns

Stainless steel crowns (SSC) are metal caps that restore decayed, damaged, or fractured baby molars.

If cavity fillings are likely to fail, SSCs are typically the next best solution for restoring a child’s tooth. They are durable and strong.

Adults cannot get SSCs placed on their permanent teeth because they are weaker than other types of crowns.

Mouthguards

Mouthguards are commonly made for children, especially those involved in athletics.

They are protective devices that minimize the risk of injuries to the teeth, face, lips, jaw, gums, and surrounding soft tissues.

Last updated on April 17, 2022
4 Sources Cited
Last updated on April 17, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Ahlin, Jeffrey H. Maxillofacial Orthopedics: a Clin. Approach for the Growing Child. Quintessence Publ., 2003.
  2. Fluoridation Facts. American Dental Association, 2018.
  3. Koch Göran, et al. Pediatric Dentistry: a Clinical Approach. John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2017.
  4. Nowak, Arthur J. Pediatric Dentistry: Infancy through Adolescence. Elsevier, 2019.
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