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Tiny Tots in the Dentist's Chair Among Changes in Pediatric Dentistry
Date:5/18/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- If you've been to the dentist with your children recently, you may have noticed that things have changed since you were a kid.

Many dental offices are more kid-friendly these days, offering books and toys to pass the time in the waiting room and maybe even TV or videos to watch while they're getting dental work.

But, there have also been changes in the actual practice of children's dentistry. You probably never got dental sealants as a child, or had topical fluoride treatments. If you had your wisdom teeth removed, more than likely it was because they were causing a problem, but today those teeth may come out sooner to reduce the risk for complications.

Here's a sampling of what's new in pediatric dentistry:

Dental Sealants

Many teeth have rough surfaces that are hard to clean. When applied to these surfaces, a dental sealant makes the pitted and grooved area of a tooth smooth and easy to clean.

"Back teeth have a biting surface and crevices that are hard to clean," said Dr. Larry Kronenberg, a pediatric dentist affiliated with Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y. "Depending on the depth of the crevice, bacteria and food can get lodged in the tooth and cause cavities."

"If your child has shallow crevices, sealants probably aren't indicated," he said. "But if you've ever given your child a pretzel and later saw that the food was still stuck on the teeth, your child could benefit from sealants."

Sealants are easy to apply. The dentist brushes them onto the teeth, and the sealant bonds with the tooth's enamel, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Sometimes a curing light is used to help the sealants dry faster.

Fluoride Treatments

"Ingested fluoride works on teeth that haven't yet come into the mouth, those that haven't erupted yet, but it has no effect on t
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