Who is the pediatric dentist?
The pediatric dentist is a specialist who is dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through the teen-age years. Young children, preteens, and teenagers all need different approaches in dealing with their behavior, guiding their dental growth and development and helping them avoid future dental problems. The pediatric dentist is best qualified to meet these needs.
Pediatric dentists undergo special training, which allows them to provide the most up-to-date and thorough treatment for a wide variety of children’s dental problems. They are trained and qualified to treat special patients who may have emotional, physical, or mental handicaps.
Because of this specialized training and commitment to comprehensive oral health, many parents wisely choose a pediatric dentist to treat their children.
What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay (also referred to as cavities or caries) is a progressive contagious disease that often begins in very young children. Decay is a result of the interaction between bacteria which are normally on our teeth and sugars in the daily diet. The bacteria use those sugars to produce acid. A tooth exposed to this acid will lose mineral and that loss is the first step towards tooth decay.
How to prevent tooth decay?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child visit a pediatric dentist within six months of eruption of the first primary tooth. Early examination and preventive care will protect your child’s smile now and in the future.
The prevention of dental disease is an important consideration during the first few visits. In our office, we also discuss gum disease and explain how to avoid it or how to minimize damage if it already has started. We will discuss a program of preventive home care including brushing, flossing, diet control and the importance of fluoride.
Why so early? What dental problems could a baby have?
The most important reason is a practical prevention program. Dental problems can begin early. A big concern is Baby Bottle Decay or Early Childhood Cavity (ECC). Your baby risks severe decay when he or she nurses continuously from the breast or from a bottle of milk, formula or juice during naps or at night.
Another concern is gum disease. Recent studies show nearly half of all children aged two and three have at least mild inflammation of gum tissues.
When should the child begin to brush her/his teeth?
Brushing should actually begin before children are capable of doing it themselves. A wet cloth or gauze effectively cleans gums, removes plaque after nursing and establishes a good habit early on. Gentle brushing with a soft bristle brush begins with the first baby tooth and flossing when most of the primary teeth are in.
Between ages six and seven, children can brush on their own with careful supervision and by eight or nine, they can floss on their own too. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says that “a good rule of thumb is this… When children are accomplished enough in caring for their own needs that they can get up, bathe, dress themselves and comb their hair without your help, then they are ready to accept full responsibility for their mouth-cleaning program.”
Why visit the pediatric dentist twice a year when the child has never had a cavity?
Regular dental visits help your child stay cavity-free. Teeth-cleaning removes debris that builds up on the teeth, irritates the gums and causes decay. Fluoride treatments renew the fluoride content in the enamel, strengthen teeth and prevent cavities. Hygiene instructions improve your child’s brushing and flossing, leading to cleaner teeth and healthier gums.
Tooth decay isn’t the only reason for a dental visit. We provide ongoing assessment of changes in your child’s oral health. For example, your child may need additional fluoride, dietary changes or sealants for ideal dental health. We may identify orthodontic problems and suggest treatment to guide teeth as they emerge in the mouth.
What happens in a dental check-up?
We will review your child’s medical and dental history. We will gently examine your child’s teeth, oral tissues and jaws. The teeth will be cleaned and polished, followed by the application of a fluoride gel. We won’t just talk to you about oral hygiene instruction and dental health; we will talk to your child with easily understandable words, pictures and ideas. Your child will take responsibility for a healthy smile.
How can parents help their child enjoy good dental health?
The following steps will help your child be part of the cavity-free generation:
1) Beware of frequent snacking
2) Brush effectively twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
3) Floss once a day
4) Have sealants applied when appropriate
5) Seek regular dental check-ups
6) Assure proper fluoride through drinking water, fluoride products or fluoride supplements
How do parents make their child’s diet safe for his/her teeth?
First, be sure he/she has a balanced diet. Then, check how frequently he or she eats foods that contain sugar or starch. Foods with starch include breads, crackers, pasta and snacks such as pretzels and potato chips. When checking for sugar, look beyond a sugar bowl and candy dish. A variety of foods contain one or more types of sugars and all types of sugars can promote dental decay. Fruits, a few vegetables and most milk products have at least one type of sugar.
Sugar can be found in many processed foods, even some which do not taste sweet. For example, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich not only has sugar in the jelly, but also may have added sugar to the peanut butter. Sugar is also added to condiments such as ketchup and salad dressings.