Children's Dentistry

Ellensburg Dentist

Our Services

Pearl Care Dental

Drs. Cristina Bender, Iriff Ulep, and Kari Chellis believes that a trip to the dentist should be fun, lighthearted, and not something to fear. The way your child is exposed to dentistry lays the groundwork for how they view dental care and dental visits for the rest of their lives.

Drs. Cristina Bender, Iriff Ulep, and Kari Chellis and their team love caring for their patients, and work hard to make sure each child is spoken to gently, treated with respect, and cared for as if they were our own child. We use simple words to explain procedures to our patients and make sure each parent or guardian is aware of the process as well.

Airway Screening

One in ten people suffer from sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common of the apnea’s, is caused by a blockage of the airway. It has been linked to medical conditions such as hypertension, anxiety, obesity, diabetes, asthma and depression.

Like all living creatures, they also produce waste. These acidic wastes deposited on the teeth erode the hard surfaces, weaken the enamel, and form holes known as cavities.

Some bacteria produce a toxic waste that causes bleeding gums and destroys the bone around the teeth. This is called periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is the leading reason people lose their teeth and end up with dentures.

Infant Oral Exams

Studies have shown that the earlier a child receives their first dental exam, the less dental treatment was needed during their youth. We recommend oral exams for children when their first tooth erupts.

Following the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Drs. Cristina Bender, Iriff Ulep, and Kari Chellis suggests infants should come in for their first oral exam between the ages of six months to 1 year old.

Drs. Cristina Bender, Iriff Ulep, and Kari Chellis will review proper diet, age-appropriate hygiene, and go over pacifier use to make sure your child’s oral health starts strong and stays strong.

Children's Cleanings & Exams

Preventative care is one of the simplest and most important ways to make sure your child’s teeth grow in strong and healthy. Giving them the proper tools and teaching them the right way to brush when they are young lays the groundwork that will create healthy habits they will carry with them into adulthood.

Most children have two cleanings a year, but children with a higher risk of caries may need more frequent visits.

During a checkup, will your child’s hygienist will clean their teeth and, if necessary, take x-rays and give your child a fluoride treatment. The dentist will perform an exam and review if any treatment is needed.

Children's Cleanings & Exams

Routine cleanings and exams are necessary to make sure your child’s teeth stay healthy throughout childhood. Our doctor recommends two cleanings a year to maintain optimal oral health.

Preventative care is one of the simplest and most important ways to make sure your child’s teeth grow in strong and healthy. Giving them the proper tools and teaching them the right way to brush when they are young lays the groundwork that will create healthy habits they will carry with them into adulthood.

Most children have two cleanings a year, but children with a higher risk of caries may need more frequent visits.

During a checkup, will your child’s hygienist will clean their teeth and, if necessary, take x-rays and give your child a fluoride treatment. The dentist will perform an exam and review if any treatment is needed.

Digital X-Rays

Digital x-rays allow our doctor to get a view of your child’s teeth and jaws that they can’t see with their eyes, while keeping radiation exposure to a minimum. Digital x-rays help diagnose cavities while they are tiny, often allowing for less invasive treatment. If they are caught early enough, decay may be stopped with some minor changes to your child’s homecare routine.

Using digital x-rays, Drs. Cristina Bender, Iriff Ulep, and Kari Chellis can look for teeth that haven’t erupted yet, make sure your child’s jaws and teeth are developing well, and monitor whether orthodontic treatment will be needed in the future.

Today’s digital x-rays expose your child to less radiation than ever before. Lead aprons and taking x-rays only when necessary further reduce your child’s exposure.

Fluoride

Regular fluoride treatments help reduce your child’s risk of developing cavities and can remineralize areas where decay is starting. Our doctor believes regular fluoride treatments are an important part of treatment for most children.

Like all living creatures, they also produce waste. These acidic wastes deposited on the teeth erode the hard surfaces, weaken the enamel, and form holes known as cavities.

Some bacteria produce a toxic waste that causes bleeding gums and destroys the bone around the teeth. This is called periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is the leading reason people lose their teeth and end up with dentures.

Topical fluoride treatments help keep your child’s teeth cavity-free between visits by strengthening the enamel. Depending on your child’s age, the fluoride may be brushed onto your child’s teeth or put into a foam tray and allowed to sit on their teeth. For younger children, a fluoride varnish is brushed onto the teeth. Fluoride varnish hardens when it comes in contact with saliva, forming a hard film that is brushed off later that evening.

Older children usually have a tray loaded with foam fluoride placed in their mouths for a specific amount of time along with a suction straw to remove any foam overflow and saliva. When the time is up, your child is told not to eat or drink for at least 30 minutes to allow the fluoride to work.

Drs. Cristina Bender, Iriff Ulep, and Kari Chellis and their hygiene team are happy to answer all your questions about fluoride treatments and treatment options.

Frenectomies

Frenectomies are a valuable procedure that corrects tongue-tie and prevents future periodontal problems caused by tissue pulling on the lip or gums. Drs. Cristina Bender, Iriff Ulep, and Kari Chellis can perform this procedure in-office with just a little anesthetic.

A frenum or frenulum is a small piece of tissue that attaches either the upper lip to the gum tissue or the tongue to the floor of the mouth.

In some children, this frenum or frenulum is attached too tightly and can pull on the lips or gums causing tongue-tie, problems nursing, speech issues, trouble eating or drinking, or cause pulling on the gums around teeth that can create a periodontal issue as the child ages.

During a frenectomy, the dentist makes a small incision in the frenum or frenulum, allowing for greater movement of the lips. Results are instant, and this simple procedure can be done in-office with a local anesthetic. The incision site usually heals in a few days with little to no discomfort.

Sealants for Children

Sealants help protect your child’s teeth from decay by filling in the grooved biting surfaces of your child’s teeth, making them easier to clean. The dentist applies this light-cured material in minutes, and the procedure requires no anesthesia.

Sealants help prevent decay by protecting the surface of the teeth, especially the back teeth where brushing can be more difficult for children. They are made of a clear, liquid resin that hardens when a special light is shined on it. This creates a smooth, hard surface that prevents food from settling in the grooves of your child’s back teeth.

Research has shown that sealants can reduce a child’s risk of decay in treated teeth by up to 80%. The CDC has even weighed in, stating that children without dental sealants may be 3 times more likely to develop decay in the same teeth than children with sealants.

How are Sealants Placed?

First, the tooth or teeth are washed, dried, and isolated with either cotton rolls or a rubber dam. Then the teeth are etched with a special gel that roughens the teeth, so the sealant material has a rough surface to adhere to. Once that is rinsed off, the sealant material is flowed into the grooves of the teeth and light cured. When all the teeth have been treated, the dentist checks for rough edges and makes sure floss can pass between the teeth.

Generally speaking, there are no side effects with dental sealants unless your child is allergic to one of the ingredients in the resin material, which is extremely rare.

Caring for your Child's Sealants

Sealants are sturdy and should last up to 10 years, but may need replacing sooner, depending on your child’s lifestyle. Avoiding chewing on ice and hard candy can prolong their life and prevent chipping which might allow decay to sneak in and rot the tooth from the inside. The dentist will monitor your child’s sealants at each visit to make sure they are still intact.

 

While sealants don’t eliminate the need for proper homecare such as flossing and brushing twice daily, they can offer some protection and can even stop minor decay from developing further.

Restorative Dentistry

Restorative dentistry includes fillings, crowns and other procedures that help restore a tooth to its original function. Pearl Care Dental offers many restorative procedures to help your child smile with confidence! 

If your child needs restorative treatment in the form of a filling or crown, Drs. Cristina Bender, Iriff Ulep, and Kari Chellis and their team will create a custom treatment plan for your child and review all options with you before treatment begins. We believe a conservative approach to children’s dentistry is usually the best course of action.

Fillings are placed in the tooth following decay removal to preserve natural tooth structure. Nowadays most fillings are made of a composite resin that is matched to your child’s natural tooth color. In some rare instances amalgam (silver) fillings may be used.

Crowns can be made of many different materials depending on where in your child’s mouth they are to be used.  Stainless steel, resin, and zirconia are all durable choices and require very similar preparations.

Why Does My Child Need a Crown?

Sometimes an area of decay is too large for a filling or the decay has compromised the whole side of a tooth, so there is not enough tooth structure to support a filling. If your child has an accident that results in a heavily damaged tooth or if your child is at high risk for developing cavities, the doctor may decide it’s best to preserve the entire remaining structure.

If you are concerned that your child needs a crown, Drs. Cristina Bender, Iriff Ulep, and Kari Chellis and their team are happy to answer all your questions.

Sports Mouthguards

Sports mouthguards prevent dental injuries when worn during contact sports or other potentially dangerous activities. A custom-fit mouthguard can save your child’s teeth and prevent extensive dental treatment.

It’s estimated that over 20 million children take part in one after-school sport or another. With that amount of children engaging in sports and other activities like skiing, gymnastics, and martial arts, there is a higher chance of injury. Did you know that up to 20% of these injuries are due to fractured or otherwise damaged teeth?

Drs. Cristina Bender, Iriff Ulep, and Kari Chellis can create a sports mouthguard for your child. After an impression of your child’s teeth is taken, their will fabricate a new mouthguard molded to custom-fit to their unique smile.

When worn regularly, your child can protect their teeth, jaws, and lips from injury. Your child only gets one set of adult teeth. Drs. Cristina Bender, Iriff Ulep, and Kari Chellis can help you keep them safe.

Tooth-Colored Fillings

Tooth-colored fillings offer a durable, more natural looking option for your child’s restorations. Made from composite resin, they are strong, durable, and perfect for smaller teeth.

Studies have shown that almost 33% of children aged 2 to 5 have had a cavity. Even though baby teeth are only around for a few short years, it’s still important to keep them healthy because they hold the space for your child’s adult teeth. They also help develop proper speech patterns and help your child chew.

The procedure is the same for a child as it is for an adult. Depending on the size of the decayed area, a local anesthetic may be given, and if your child has any anxiety over the procedure, we have some sedation options available to make the procedure more comfortable.

After the decay is removed, a special gel is used to clean and etch the surface. Once the filling material is in place, it is light cured, polished, and adjusted to make sure it doesn’t interfere with your child’s bite. Tooth-colored filling material is much like a natural tooth in texture and is matched to your child’s tooth color.

After treatment, it’s important to maintain a regular homecare routine of brushing and flossing twice daily, so your child’s restorations stay healthy and prevent any more decay.

Tooth Extractions

While we focus on helping your child keep their teeth for a lifetime, sometimes an extraction is necessary. Whether it’s extensive decay, overcrowding or an impacted tooth, Drs. Cristina Bender, Iriff Ulep, and Kari Chellis can help you and your child understand the procedure and answer any questions you have.

An extraction can make both children and parents anxious, but they are a common procedure in most dental offices. Sometimes a child’s tooth has too much decay to restore, or they need a tooth or teeth removed to make room for orthodontic treatment.

Regardless of the reason, Drs. Christina D. Bender, Iriff Ulep, and Kari Chellis and their team will make sure you and your child are comfortable with the treatment plan.

After some local anesthetic, the doctor will remove your child’s tooth. If it is impacted or if it is a complicated removal, the doctor will discuss with you if sedation options are recommended.

Once the tooth is removed, our dentist will give you post-op instructions, and place a small piece of gauze over the extraction site to stop any bleeding and to help a clot form. Check and replace the gauze every 20 minutes until bleeding stops.

Here are some recommended tips for the first 24 hours after your child’s extraction:

  • Use over-the-counter or prescribed pain reliever if recommended by the dentist.
  • Give your child soft foods for the first 24 hours after their extraction.
  • DO NOT allow your child to drink from a straw, rinse their mouths out, spit, or brush that area for at least 24 hours after tooth removal. This could dislodge the blood clot and cause a very painful issue called dry socket.
  • Place an ice pack wrapped in a towel over the area for about 20 minutes to relieve swelling and discomfort.
  • Immediately call our office if your child experiences fever, immense pain, or chills.

Pearl Care Dental always considers your child’s comfort regardless of the type of treatment they are receiving. The dentist will discuss their unique situation with you to determine the best way to help them receive the treatment they need.

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