Lasers in Pediatric Dentistry
We are proud to offer the LTM Precise Diode Laser in our office. Lasers in dentistry provide an amazing tool to help soft tissue dental procedures go more smoothly in a minimally invasive way. With the use of a dental laser the risk of infection, swelling, prolonged healing and scaring are all greatly reduced. The following section outlines some of the procedures that can be performed with a dental laser. As an Associate Fellow in the World Laser Institute, Dr. Crutchfield is excited to apply laser technology to aid in the overall dental health of his patients!
When permanent molars begin to grow in through gum tissue they sometimes come in slowly. If this occurs the gum tissue that covers the molar (operculum) can make it difficult to brush or eat. Because of this, cavities can more easily form on the permanent molars. If this tissue does not resolve on its own it can easily be removed with a dental laser. This will aid in hygiene, reduce discomfort, and allow access if a cavity does form.
Soft tissue abnormalities can also be removed easily with a dental laser. An example of this is a mucocele. These usually occur on the lips as a result of trauma. A mucocele forms typically when a saliva duct that has been ruptured does not heal correctly. The duct then swells with fluid. As a result, a “bubble” on the lips can form. A mucocele can resolve on its own but they often do not. A dental laser can be used to remove the mucocele quickly, easily and safely without the need for sutures and very little discomfort.
Children may be born with abnormally strong tissue(tie) that connects the lips, tongue, and gums together. This occurs in two forms, a labial frenum(lip-tie) and lingual frenum(tongue-tie). If this tissue is too strong it creates pressure in between teeth during normal day to day activity (talking, eating, etc) or restricts tongue movement. If left untreated over time it can lead to other dental related problems. Examples of these potential problems can include; difficulty with breastfeeding, dental decay, speech or airway difficulties, digestive issues, limited range of motion of tongue, gum recession, and spacing or “gap” in between teeth. In order to prevent these problems before they occur or to maintain orthodontic movement after braces, a frenum release can be performed. A frenum release is termed “frenectomy” or “frenulectomy”. Two techniques can be implemented for this procedure. The use of a non-cutting instrument(dental laser) or a cutting instrument(scalpel/scissors).
With the use of a dental specific Diode Laser during a soft tissue procedure there is no “cutting” involved. The tissue is “vaporized” with focused light energy. Because of this there is almost no bleeding. Therefore, sutures are not needed. The laser sterilizes upon touch and thus there is far less risk of infection. With the use of a dental laser, healing is very quick, usually within two weeks, the tissue is back to normal. Laser technology is amazing!
Frenectomy Post Operative Care
Post-procedure stretches are key to getting an optimum result. The mouth tends to heal so quickly that it may prematurely reattach causing a new limitation and/or the persistence or return of symptoms. Wounds tend to contract towards their center as healing occurs. Also, if you have two raw wound surfaces in the mouth in close proximity, they will reattach. Hence, it is important to keep them stretched open. We recommend the rule of “4” for stretching. This means the following: 4 times per day and 4 seconds each time. Continue the stretching for 2 weeks.
It is important to remember to stay relaxed, smiling, and positive. You should show your baby or child that not everything is going to be painful, be playful. The exercises are not meant to be forceful or prolonged. Stretching exercises with quick and precise movements are best. A small amount of spotting or bleeding is common while doing the exercises, especially in the first few days.
You may use a non-numbing teething gel like Hyland’s Teething Gel, Orajel Naturals (No Benzocaine), Tylenol, Ibuprofen (if 6 months of age or older), or other homeopathic measures to help with discomfort. Starting a few days after the procedure, the wound(s) will look gooey white and/or yellow in appearance. This is a completely normal inflammatory response. The body’s natural way to make a band-aid.
Upper Lip Stretches
This is the easier of the 2 sites to stretch and if you are doing both lip and tongue, start with the lip. Place your finger under the lip and move it up as high as it will go, until you feel resistance. Then gently sweep from side to side for several seconds. Remember, the goal is to open the opposing surfaces of the lip and gum so they cannot stick together.
Under the Tongue Stretches
Insert both index fingers into the mouth and dive under the tongue and pick up the posterior part of the tongue and lift towards the roof of the baby’s mouth. The tongue needs three separate stretching motions: Once you are under the tongue, pick up the posterior part of the tongue as high as it will go towards the palate. Hold it there for 4 seconds, relax, and do it again. The goal is to completely unfold the diamond so that you can visualize the entire diamond. The fold of the diamond across the middle is the first place it will reattach.
Place your finger in the middle of the diamond and do a gentle circular stretch for several seconds to dilate or open up the diamond.
Turn your finger sideways and do a rolling pin motion to try and keep the diamond as deep as possible. Start at the fold “center” of the diamond and move to either side of the diamond top and bottom to loosen up the muscles of the tongue and floor of the mouth.
Please don’t hesitate to call our office to inquire more about how laser technology can aid your child’s dental health!
Monday-Thursday: 8 AM to 5 PM
Please call our office if you have any dental concerns for your child or your child is in pain. Dr. Crutchfield will reach you as soon as possible.