General Dentistry

SERVING THE GREATER BIRMINGHAM AREA

Prevention is the best defense for your smile. Trust Dr. Johnson and his dental team for your regular appointments and cleanings, and enjoy a lifetime of lasting oral health. Don’t wait for problems to appear before you seek dental care. Keep your smile healthy with preventative care from Pediatric and Adolescent Dentistry.

1 year old exams

Like any parent, you worry about your child’s health. Don’t forget about their oral health as well! Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends you take your child to the dentist by his or her first birthday? While that may seem a bit early for your child to receive dental treatment, it’s important to remember that baby teeth are essentially place-holders for the adult teeth to come.

A lifetime of happy smiles starts at year one. Schedule your baby’s one year-old dental appointment with our doctors and give your child a healthy start.

Tooth Extraction

In some cases, injury or decay damages a tooth extensively and an extraction is the proper treatment option to start you on the path toward complete dental health. We can remove your troublesome tooth and give you the treatment options for replacing that tooth and completing your beautiful smile again.

Fillings

A tooth colored filling is a safer, better looking alternative to the silver-mercury fillings that today’s parents had as children. Tooth colored fillings are made from a composite resin that can be molded and shaded to match your child’s tooth. Unlike mercury-silver fillings, which are wedged into place and require removal of more tooth structure, tooth colored fillings bond to your child’s tooth, creating a seal that helps protect the tooth while keeping more of the natural structure of the tooth.

Oral Cancer Screening

Every hour, someone dies from oral cancer, a disease that affects 41,000 new Americans per year. As with all cancers, the key to successful treatment is catching the disease early. For this reason, Dr. Johnson is committed to providing you with an oral cancer screening. This potentially life-saving procedure can help increase your chances if you are diagnosed. In fact, 90% of oral cancers can be cured with early detection. Trust our doctors to perform a regular oral cancer screening and have greater peace of mind.

Mouth Guards

If your child plays sports or other similar activities, mouth guards are a great way to protect their teeth from potential injury. They are easy to clean, come in many color combinations and are custom made to fit comfortably in your child’s mouth.

Baby’s First Visit

Your baby’s first visit is a simple visual exam to evaluate your child’s oral health and determine his/her risk for developing dental disease. A gentle prophy cleaning and fluoride application is performed by one of our child-friendly dental assistants. Usually, no radiographs (x-rays) are taken at this appointment.

Feel confident about your child’s care as our doctors also look for relatively common and uncommon oral conditions affecting infants that you may not have heard of, such as tongue-tie, missing teeth, abnormal teeth, inclusion cysts, natal teeth, iron stain and more.

You’ll receive guidance to help you prevent potential problems and dental disease in your child’s future. Along the way, feel free to ask any questions you may have about your child’s new teeth and oral health. Let your infant become familiarized with the dental office setting in a positive way, before he/she gets bombarded with negative propaganda from older siblings, peers or even dental-phobic parents. Enjoy this primary prevention visit where dentistry is “fun”, and future dental disease can be prevented!

Your cooperation is appreciated. Remember, good general health depends partly on the development of good habits, such as sensible eating, sleeping routines and exercise.  Dental health also depends on good habits, such as proper brushing, regular dental visits and good diet.  These points and others can be discussed thoroughly during your child’s appointment.

The staff is always very friendly and professional. The hygienist always ensures my special needs child feels comfortable and safe during her cleanings. The dentist always has helpful tips to help keep my daughter cavity free. I would highly recommend this office to anyone looking for a pediatric dentist.

Jennifer K.

PATIENT FORMS

Make your first visit with us easier by filling out our forms before your appointment. Just download the forms, print and fill them out. Make sure you bring them with you! Please contact our office to get patient form access. 205-982-0112

DOWNLOAD FORMS

PULP THERAPY

Pulp therapy (also known in pediatric dentistry as a “baby root canal”) addresses issues with the internal structure of the tooth, where the pulp (made up of the nerve and blood vessels) is located.

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Baby Wellness

When Can I Expect My Child’s Pearly Whites?

When your baby was born, all 20 primary teeth were already present and developing in their jawbones. The first tooth to arrive is usually the lower front incisor, which usually erupts into the mouth at around 6 months of age, but could be earlier or later. There are even a very few babies born with lower front teeth, they are called natal teeth.

What Should I Do When My Child Is Teething?

Be prepared to deal with your child’s first oral event – teething! It usually happens without problem and is a completely natural occurrence. During the time your infant’s teeth start to come out, your child may become restless and fretful. Your baby may also start to salivate excessively and exhibit the desire to put hands and fingers into his/her mouth. Relieve your baby with a clean teething ring, chilled teething ring, cool spoon, cold wet washcloth or toothbrush. If your infant has a fever, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort or other unusual problem, it may not be related to teething. In that case, consult your family physician as soon as possible to rule out any other common diseases and conditions of infancy.

What to do about Pacifiers or Thumb sucking?

Thumb sucking is a habit that often starts while your child is still in the womb. It is a natural instinct that helps prepare your infant for nursing. Infants and young children often use thumbs, fingers, pacifiers or other available objects to satisfy their sucking needs. This can give your child a sense of security, happiness, and relaxation that can even lull them to sleep.

Most children quit their thumb/pacifier sucking by age 4, or at least by school age (due to peer pressure). At this stage, any dental problems (tooth movement, jaw-shape changes) that have resulted from your child’s sucking habit will usually correct on its own. If your child’s thumb sucking or pacifier use continues past 5 years of age (or when permanent teeth arrive), full self-correction is far less likely, and there are possibly other issues that are perpetuating the habit that should be explored. Stress may exacerbate the thumb-sucking problem, thus scolding your child for thumb sucking is not recommended. It is better to use positive reinforcement to motivate your child to quit the habit. Finding and eliminating the source of stress can also be really helpful.

  • Breastfeeding. Wean your children from the bottle and breast at 12-14 months of age.
  • Sippy Cup Beverages. Don’t let your child walk around with a sippy cup filled with anything but water for prolonged periods during the day.
  • Juice. Don’t allow your child drink more than 4-6 oz. of juice per day.
  • Pacifiers. Never dip a pacifier into honey or anything sweet before giving it to a baby.
  • Cleaning Infant’s Gums. Wipe your infant’s gums after feedings with a clean damp cloth or baby finger brush even before the first teeth erupt.
  • Brushing Teeth for Children up to 2 Years Old. Once teeth appear, brush your child’s teeth with a soft toothbrush twice a day (once after breakfast and again before bedtime). Use only fluoride-free toothpaste at this age. Most infants under age 2 have not yet learned to “spit out” after brushing, and excessive swallowing of toothpaste can damage the adult teeth that are at this time still growing under the gums. Baby can be placed with head on lap and legs facing outward to facilitate cleaning.

Kids & Teens

  • Brushing Teeth. As a preschooler, ages 2 to 5, you should brush your child’s teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste; once after breakfast and once at night right before bed. The last thing your child’s teeth should touch before going to bed and for the rest of the night is the toothpaste from their brush. Use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and smear it into the bristles with your finger to minimize swallowing toothpaste. Brush your preschooler for at least 1 minute each time. Teach your child to “spit out” the toothpaste after brushing as soon as possible.
  • Proper Toothpaste. For very young children (age 2 to 3), avoid sweet-tasting children’s toothpaste that your child may be more apt to swallow, and instead use a pea-size amount of adult toothpaste like Colgate Total, which contains triclosan with additional antibacterial, anti-tartar and gum health benefits.
  • Supervision during Brushing Teeth. Young children should always be supervised while brushing and taught to spit out rather than swallow toothpaste. You should brush your child’s teeth until they are 7 or 8 years old because your child lacks the manual dexterity to do so properly until that age. Brushing should last for 2 minutes. Once you have observed that your child can brush properly on their own, then let your child brush independently.
  • Flossing. Flossing should begin when and where teeth are touching. Back molars usually begin touching at age 3 or 4. At this point, food can easily get trapped between the teeth and lead to cavities.
It’s Tooth Fairy time! Around age 6, your child will begin to lose primary teeth in the front and gain permanent teeth in the front and back. Once the teeth start to touch (could be around ages 3–5 too), you should floss your child’s teeth (flossers work well). Children typically don’t brush along the gum line or the back teeth, so pay special attention to these problem areas. However, almost 90% of cavities in permanent molars occur in the grooves. Dental sealants are a great way to protect the permanent molars and other teeth at risk of getting decay. They are a white coating that is placed over the grooves of the teeth to prevent plaque and food from getting stuck and causing cavities.

Up until your child is 7 years old, you should assist him/her while brushing because children often lack the motor skills to do it right. After that, observe your child’s technique and assist where necessary until he/she can effectively brush without supervision. Brush your teeth at the same time to help teach your child to brush by mimicking you. Although a regular children’s brush is perfectly fine for cleaning teeth, sometimes a children’s electric brush can make the experience more fun for your child, increasing motivation to brush. Once again, tooth brushing should happen twice a day – once in the morning after breakfast and right before bedtime. Brushing after snacks is ideal too. At age 6 and above, brushing should take 2 minutes each time.

When brushing your teeth and your child’s teeth, angle the toothbrush at a 45˚ angle towards the gum-line and use small circular strokes. Brush the front of the teeth, behind the teeth and the chewing surfaces. Don’t forget to brush the tongue to remove potential bad breath bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. Take 2 full minutes to brush properly.

During these ages and older, children become more active with sports, and dental injuries are very common. Ask our team about mouth guards to protect your child’s teeth during sports.

By 12-13 years of age, all of the baby teeth are usually gone, and all of the permanent “adult” teeth are in except for the 3rd molars (wisdom teeth), which most often arrive by age 21. As teens grow more independent and have further control of their diet and habits, it is common to see an increase in cavities. Soda, candy and a lack of consistent or effective brushing and flossing is typically the culprit. Self –awareness also becomes more prominent and your teen may notice if they have discolored teeth or crooked teeth. Talk with our team regarding options for both braces and whitening.

Additionally, we take a panoramic X-ray of your child’s jaws to check the development of third molars, and when indicated will refer your child to an oral surgeon for removal. Be sure to let our office know if your child is experiencing pain from their wisdom teeth. Unfortunately, substance abuse may begin during this stage (90% of adult smokers began before age 19), so monitor your child for signs of alcohol or tobacco use. Finally, eating disorders are also common, and in addition to many other serious issues, can damage the teeth. Please talk with our office regarding assistance with any of these common issues of adolescence.

Special Needs Care

If your child has special health care needs, feel great knowing his/her dental needs are not necessarily any different than those of any other child. The difference is how your child’s dental care is delivered based upon the specific needs.

A child with special needs is defined as having a developmental or acquired physical, mental, developmental, sensory, behavioral, cognitive and/or emotional impairment that necessitates medical management, some kind of health care intervention and/or use of specialized services or programs. This could include asthma, autism spectrum disorders, Down Syndrome and many others.

If your child has special health care needs, trust that your team at Pediatric and Adolescent Dentistry makes sure to review your child’s condition and custom tailors the delivery of care to fit your child’s specific needs. Dr. Johnson was a Spark’s fellow at UAB which specializes in the healthcare of children with special needs.

Before your appointment, please call us to provide us specific details of your child’s condition (whatever information you can provide would be helpful). Rest easy knowing our team is well prepared for your child’s visit.

Hospital Privileges

Some children are not able to have dental treatment performed in a routine office setting due to a variety of reasons. Some examples are very young children that have sustained a severe injury or have baby bottle tooth decay. Another example would be children who are mentally or physically disabled such as children with Autism or Cerebral Palsy. In some of these situations, oral conscious sedation is not feasible or possible, or has been attempted but was not successful in managing a child’s behavior. When no other options are possible, dental treatment can be performed under general anesthesia at an outpatient surgical center. We will work with a board-certified Anesthesiologist who will put your child to sleep. Our doctors are not involved in the anesthesia component but work in conjunction with the anesthesiologist to ensure your child’s safety. There are typically no shots or no pain involved prior to going to sleep. A child will simply breathe the sleepy air and fall asleep within 20 to 30 seconds. After going to sleep, we can take care of all of your child’s dental treatment and they will not feel anything whatsoever. They will wake up in the recovery room and typically can go home two or three hours after surgery.

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