Common Dental Procedures for Children

any people don’t believe that the care of baby teeth is a vital concern. This assumption could not be farther from the truth, however. The dental wellness of a youngster has a tremendous effect on their dental health throughout their lifetime. Teaching little ones good oral hygiene and healthy eating habits early in life establishes long-term health and a successful smile.

The condition of a child’s teeth is directly related to their general welfare. The American Academy of Pediatrics explains, “Oral health is critically important to the overall health and well-being of infants, children, and adolescents.” Due to the neglect of oral hygiene in children, “caries [cavities] is one of the most common chronic diseases in children – 5 times more common than asthma… Twenty-three percent of children aged 2 to 5 years and 56% of children aged 6 to 8 have caries, and many school hours are lost each year because of dental problems related to caries.” These statistics are chilling, but there is a way to prevent this from happening to your child.

At Dr. Craig Armstrong’s Houston dental practice, we’re committed to caring for children’s dental health. The first step to giving your child a healthy smile is education. In the following blog, we’ll cover some of the common dental procedures for children in order for you to better understand what your kiddo may need.

Cleanings and Examinations

Whether it’s for a child or an adult, a preventive care visit includes a professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar, as well as a thorough examination from Dr. Armstrong. During these visits, we teach our pediatric patients the basics of dental health and how to care for their teeth. For example, we often give our younger patients our custom teeth brushing chart to encourage taking care of their smiles. The more they know about oral hygiene, the better they can implement healthy brushing, flossing, rinsing and eating routines. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends bringing your child to the dentist for his or her first appointment “when the first tooth appears, or no later than his/her first birthday.” After this visit, the AAPD urges parents to take children for “a check-up every six months… in order to prevent cavities and other dental problems.”


As their adult teeth grow in, many children discover they need braces to correct crookedness and a misaligned bite. The following factors can contribute to a child’s need for orthodontic treatment:

  • Genetics – If parents or siblings needed braces, it’s likely the child will, too.
  • Injury – Dental trauma can push teeth out of place.
  • Thumb-sucking – This common childhood habit should be discouraged, as it can pull the teeth and jaw out of alignment.
  • Early or late tooth loss – The way a child’s teeth come in can have a big impact on his or her need for orthodontia.

The American Dental Association (ADA) notes, “since abnormal bites usually become noticeable between the ages of 6 and 12, orthodontic treatment often begins between ages 8 and 14.” Since youngsters’ teeth are still growing in, they’re easier to adjust – “Treatment that begins while a child is growing helps produce optimal results.”

While straighter teeth are typically more aesthetically pleasing, orthodontic treatment is far more than cosmetic. Children who need braces but don’t get them are at higher risk for tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss. In addition, postponing treatment can affect speech and lead to abnormal wear on tooth enamel.

There are two basic types of orthodontic treatment available. Traditional braces consist of small metal or plastic brackets cemented to the center of the tooth. A wire connects these brackets. Every so often, the patient has the braces tightened so that the teeth and jaw gradually shift into proper position. Many young patients have traditional braces. When children wear bracket and wire braces, they must take special care to avoid food that can permanently stain or damage teeth, such as chewing gum, gummy bears, corn on the cob, and taffy. In addition, children with braces must be careful not to eat too many sugary sweets, which tend to cause plaque build-up. If plaque is allowed to build up around brackets, decay can occur.

The other style of available braces are clear, plastic aligners such as Invisalign. These can be removed, which makes eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing much easier. The trays are custom-made based on digital imaging and a personalized treatment plan. Each patient usually receives 20-29 aligners per arch. These types of orthodontia offer advantages, but they are more appropriate for teenagers than young children. Because they can be easily taken out, it requires discipline to wear them for the appropriate 20-22 hours per day.


As noted above, decay is quite common amongst children. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports, “42 percent of children [aged] 2 to 11 have had dental caries in their primary [baby] teeth” and “23 percent of children 2 to 11 have untreated dental caries,” which means that their decay is only worsening. Even beyond decay, children’s teeth can become cracked, broken, or worn. Dental fillings help stop the progress of decay and maintain children’s oral health.

If Dr. Armstrong discovers dental damage, he will most likely recommend a filling. It’s important for children to understand what this procedure entails in order to reduce anxiety. The steps for this treatment are relatively simple:

1. Often, your child will receive a numbing medication in order to prevent discomfort. Sometimes we will apply a topical anesthetic to prepare the area for the injectable anesthetic.

2. Dr. Armstrong will use a drill, or in some cases, a laser, to remove decay. The drill, or handpiece, has metal cones in various sizes that can cut through and modify enamel.

3. We will prepare the tooth for the filling by applying a liner of composite resin.

4. Dr. Armstrong will etch the tooth with an acid gel, creating tiny holes. He will then fill the tooth with composite material and a bonding material.

5. We will shine a bright light on the resin to harden it and make it strong.

6. Dr. Armstrong will polish the tooth and ensure that it is the proper shape.

After a filling, your child may experience some slight sensitivity in the tooth, especially when it is exposed to air, cold, or sweet foods. It typically takes about two weeks for the sensitivity to disappear completely.


While Dr. Armstrong is happy to place a filling if necessary, it is ideal to avoid decay altogether. We often recommend dental sealants to help protect children’s teeth. These are thin, plastic coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of the teeth most at risk of cavities (usually the molars in the back of the mouth that are more difficult to reach when brushing and flossing). Sealants provide an extra layer of defense against plaque and cavities. Fortunately, applying sealants is a quick and simple process. If your child needs a sealant, Dr. Armstrong will clean the tooth, dry it, apply a bonding agent, rinse it, dry it, and carefully paint the sealant on before setting it.


In order to monitor children’s developing smiles and determine what type of treatment they may require, Dr. Armstrong often takes x-rays of our pediatric patients’ teeth. Typically, we recommend that children have x-rays about once per year, but these can be more frequent if needed. Our Houston dental practice uses advanced digital x-ray technology to minimize radiation and take more accurate images.

Set Up Your Child’s Smile for Success

Children’s dental procedures can help them begin, continue, and enjoy outstanding oral health. Contact our Houston dental practice today to find out more about our pediatric procedures and schedule an appointment with Dr. Armstrong!

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Why Are My Teeth Transparent at the Bottom?

Paying close attention to the appearance of your teeth is extremely important. Ensuring that your smile is bright and clean could save you from arriving at your business meeting with spinach wedged between your teeth. Furthermore, shining up your pearly whites with a quick whitening treatment could improve your confidence and dazzle a date. What you may not realize is that paying attention to how your teeth look could also help you spot (and ultimately treat) oral conditions. At Dr. Craig Armstrong’s Houston dental practice, we are prepared to answer any of your teeth-related questions. No dental concern is a small concern, as even the slightest change in your dental appearance could be a symptom of a more serious issue. If you notice something different about your smile, we recommend that you come in and see us for a consultation. We are dedicated to keeping our patients informed and, above all else, healthy. In the following blog, we answer the question: why are my teeth transparent at the bottom?

Elements of Enamel Erosion

Your teeth have several layers. The outermost layer is the enamel, which protects the inner-portion of the tooth and gives it its lustrous look. Enamel is both vital and vulnerable. As Michele Borboa explains in her SheKnows Health & Wellness article, “Though tooth enamel, the thin but sturdy calcified material covering your teeth is the hardest and most mineralized substance in your body, it isn’t indestructible.” In certain circumstances enamel can begin to wear away, leading to a variety of symptoms, ranging from “sensitive teeth” to “cracks,” cavities, discoloration, “rounded edges,” and — you guessed it — “transparent-looking tips of the teeth.” Fundamentally, your teeth look translucent at the bottom because your enamel is eroding.

As the Academy of General Dentistry explains, “transparency” is one of the “signs of tooth erosion, ranging from its early stages (sensitivity, discoloration, rounded teeth) to the more severe stages (cracks, severe sensitivity, cupping).” If you suffer from this symptom, “your front teeth may appear slightly transparent near the biting edges,” as well as in other areas of your mouth.

The Clear Causes

We’ve established that your teeth are turning translucent because your enamel is eroding, but what is actually causing this damage? There are a few common culprits, which include:

  • Dietary behaviors. WebMD notes that a diet “high in sugar and starches” can wear down your enamel. Furthermore, “excessive soft drink consumption” can damage your teeth, since these beverages have “high levels of phosphoric and citric acids.” While they may seem healthy, “fruit drinks” can also be the a source of erosion because, “some acids in fruit drinks are more erosive than battery acid.” To help alleviate and prevent tooth erosion, the Academy of General Dentistry advises, “reduce or eliminate drinking carbonated drinks. Instead, drink water, milk, tea, or coffee – but skip the sugar!” This institution also recommends, “[drinking] acidic drinks quickly and [using] a straw so that the liquid is pushed to the back of the mouth,” as well as “[rinsing] with water” after consuming sugar or acidic drinks or meals to “neutralize the acids.”
  • Medical conditions. According to WebMD, “Acid reflux disease” or “GERD” (which stands for Gastroesophageal reflux disease) and other “gastrointestinal problems can make your mouth more acidic, damaging your enamel. In fact, a 2018 study published in the medical journal Auris, Nasus, Larynx “investigated oral changes in an experimental rat mode of GERD and observed development of dental erosion” and its “findings suggested chronic gastric acid reflux may be involved in the pathogenesis [disease development] of oral disease.” Acid reflux isn’t the only condition that can contribute to enamel erosion or, therefore, transparent teeth. Colgate Oral Care Center reports, “conditions like celiac disease [an intestinal disorder involving severe gluten intolerance] can result in poor enamel development, which gives your teeth a translucent appearance as a result.” The connection between celiac disease and transparent enamel is so prevalent that a 2018 piece published in Archives of Oral Biology concluded, “patients with enamel developmental defects should be screened for the possibility of their having celiac disease.” If you have translucent enamel, make an appointment with Dr. Armstrong in order to identify a solution.
  • Xerostomia. Also known as dry mouth, this condition indicates insufficient salivary flow. Believe it or not, your spit naturally cleans your mouth, rinsing away particulate matter and fighting cavities with special enzymes. If you don’t generate enough saliva, your teeth will be at a much greater risk for acid erosion, from both bacteria and from the acidity found in certain foods. As the Journal of Dentistry describes in a 2015 report, “Low-salivary flow promoted higher erosive conditions for teeth and restorations.” Similarly, the Journal of the American Dental Association published a study of Mexican teenagers in 2016 which found that, “erosive tooth wear…was associated with…xerostomia,” among other factors (such as “age” and “high intake of sweet carbonated drinks”). Dr. Armstrong and our team can help you determine why and treat your mouth to ensure that it stays appropriately hydrated.
  • Congenital factors. WebMD explains that “inherited conditions” can predispose you to enamel erosion. Certain patients’ genes make them a more likely candidate for dealing with enamel erosion and transparent teeth. A study of nearly 800 “Norwegian adolescents 16-18 years” published in Caries Research in 2015 concluded, “The present study suggests that polymorphisms [variations] in enamel formation genes are statistically associated with an individual’s susceptibility to dental erosive wear.” In addition, a 2013 report published in Dentistry 3000noted, “Characteristics of enamel may influence or modulate individual susceptibility to caries [decay] and erosion. These characteristics are defined during development, which is under strict genetic control, but can easily be modified in many ways by environmental factors.” This suggests that your genes and the way in which your enamel develops could make you more susceptible to erosion and translucence. If you appear to have especially vulnerable enamel or have a family history of erosion, it is vital that you come in for your preventive care appointments, take excellent care of your teeth, and eat a healthy diet to avoid suffering from transparent teeth.
  • Some medications. For example, a 2006 article in the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry found, “Antihistamine-containing syrup reduced the hardness of primary (baby tooth) enamel.” Antihistamines can have an erosive effect on child and adult teeth alike. The Journal of the American Dental Association also published a study on two patients in which “aspirin was the only possible cause of tooth erosion.” In addition to aspirin, other painkillers can cause or worsen erosion. If you’re suffering from transparent teeth, Dr. Armstrong will review your medical records with you to possibly identify medications that may be contributing to your condition. If medication side effects are the source of your symptoms, you may need to see your general physician to find out if you are able to be prescribed something else.
  • Some “environmental factors” including “friction, wear and tear, stress, and corrosion,” according WebMD, could be contributing to the destruction of your teeth. If you suffer from bruxism (grinding of the teeth during sleep due to tension), you could be wearing down the enamel on your chewing surfaces without knowing that you’re doing it. We can make you a custom oral appliance to preotect your teeth and prevent the damage caused by bruxism. Regularly chewing on hard candy, ice, or other brittle foods could have an impact on your enamel, as well. Dr. Armstrong and his team team can help you improve your diet to prevent erosion.

If your teeth appear to be translucent, one or more of the above factors could be the reason why.

How We Can Help

Dr. Armstrong and his team are here to help with all oral concerns. We can schedule a consultation in order to create a customized treatment plan for you. For instance, if dietary issues are causing your enamel to erode, we can help you slow this process and prevent further damage at your biannual cleaning and examination appointments. If thinning enamel is making you self-conscious about your smile, Dr. Armstrong can also perform cosmetic dentistry treatments to enhance the appearance of your teeth.

Contact Our Houston Dental Practice Today

Do you have questions about the appearance of your smile? Are your teeth becoming transparent? Dr. Armstrong and his Houston dental team are here to help. Contact us today to find out more and schedule an appointment!

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Insurances We Accept

Dentists at Armstrong-Katzmark DDS believe that everyone has a right to affordable, high-quality dental care near Houston, TX. For that reason, our professional team is committed to caring for our patients with respect and compassion. So, count on us for comprehensive treatments that address both your minor and significant oral health needs. What’s more, we do so by keeping dental payments budget-friendly and straightforward.

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