1. Who is a Pediatric Dentist?
A pediatric dentist is the primary care dentist for children. Pediatric dentists have two to three extra years of specialized training beyond dental school. They are dedicated to the oral health of children, from infancy through the teenage years, including those with special needs.
Very young children, pre-teens and teenagers require a different approach in helping them prevent future dental problems, dealing with their behavior and guiding their growth and development. Pediatric dentists have received the training to best meet these needs.
2. Why a Pediatric Dentist?
Just as you use a pediatrician for your child’s health needs- a pediatric dentist is best for their dental needs! A pediatric dentist has a kid friendly office, staff, and a dentist who has had two to three years of specialized training in how to work with kids, and allay their fears. The whole focus of the office is geared to children and their unique needs. Children are not little adults! They need special surroundings, and methods that bring dentistry to them in a non-threatening manner. For your child to have a fun time and develop positive experiences and attitudes, leading to a lifetime of healthy teeth, a pediatric dentist is the way to go!!!! No more fear of the dentist!!!!
3. First Dental Visit-When and Why?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends your child should visit the dentist by his/her first birthday. It’s important to make the first visit as positive and enjoyable as possible. Inform your child that the dentist and staff will discuss all procedures and answer any questions they may have.
Please use positive words when telling your child about the dental visit. Pediatric dental offices make a practice of using words that are pleasant and non-frightening to the child. If you the parent are dento-phobic then leave the talking to the professionals at the office!!!!
We like to see the child early in order to employ anticipatory guidance – anticipate problems for a given age and prevent them!!! Early diagnosis is smart diagnosis. It is easy to treat small problems than to deal with huge ones. Please bring your child early to prevent costly and lengthy treatments.
4. What’s the importance of baby teeth? Aren’t they going to lose them?
Primary teeth are important and should be kept healthy. Neglected cavities and gum diseases can lead to problems which affect developing permanent teeth. Primary teeth, or baby teeth, are important for:
- nutrition of the child through proper chewing and eating
- maintaining space for the permanent teeth and guiding them into the correct position,
- for normal development of the jaw bones and muscles
- development of speech
- develop self-confidence through an attractive appearance
The front teeth usually last until 6-7 years of age, but the back teeth (cuspids and molars) are replaced only around age 10-13.
5. Why dental X-rays?
Using X-rays, dentists can identify and treat many oral conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical exam. When dental problems are discovered and treated early, treatment is more comfortable and more affordable. X-rays are essential for:
- identifying cavities that cannot be seen during a clinical exam
- surveying erupting teeth and their path of eruption
- identifying tumors, bone diseases, and other abnormalities
- assessing an injury
- planning orthodontic treatment
6. How often should my child have dental X-rays?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends X-rays approximately once a year for most children, and every six months for children with a high risk for tooth decay. The Academy also recommends a panoramic X-ray (of the entire mouth) around age 6-8, and again at age 15, to assess growth and development and wisdom teeth.
7. Will my child be exposed to too much radiation?
Pediatric dentists utilize digital X-rays and lead aprons to reduce radiation exposure. Digital X-rays provide up to 90% less radiation than conventional X-rays. Dental X-ray exposure represents a far smaller risk than undetected and untreated dental problems. Modern advances in technology are continually reducing the amount of radiation that is produced.
8. Homecare of your child’s teeth
Start brushing daily, as soon as the first tooth erupts. Use water or a non-fluoride toothpaste. Use a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste, when the child becomes old enough to spit the paste out. By age 5 or 6, children should be able to brush their own teeth twice a day with parental assistance. Typically, parents should supervise brushing until the child is 8 years old. However, each child is different. Your pediatric dentist can determine if your child has the skill level to brush properly.
The goal of proper brushing is to remove plaque from the inner, outer and chewing surfaces of the teeth. Children should be taught proper brushing. With the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, brushing should begin along the gum line using a gentle circular motion. Brush the outer surface first, and repeat the same circular motion on the inside and chewing surfaces of the teeth. Start from one side of the upper jaw to the other side and then repeat the same steps on the lower jaw. A soft-bristled toothbrush should be used. Finish by brushing the tongue to help freshen breath and remove bacteria.
For children who have difficulty removing plaque, or are prone to cavities, an electric toothbrush can help to keep their teeth cleaner.
9. Should my child floss?
Flossing is essential for removing plaque between the teeth; where a toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing should begin when any two teeth have a contact between them. You should floss your child’s teeth until he or she can do it without assistance.
- Use nearly 18 inches of floss.
- Wind most of the floss around the middle finger of both hands.
- Using a gentle, back and forth motion, guide the floss between the teeth, over the tight contacts.
- Slide the floss into the space between the gum and tooth until you feel resistance.
- Carefully scrape the floss against the side of the tooth.
This process should be repeated on each tooth. If you have a small child, it may be easier to use a floss holder. Floss holders are available at most grocery and drug stores.
10. A Good Diet leads to Healthy Teeth
A healthy diet is essential. Just like the rest of the body, the teeth, bones and soft tissues of the mouth need a balanced diet. Children should consume a variety of foods from the five major food groups.
If your child snacks frequently, they are at a higher risk for tooth decay. The length of time the food remains in the mouth also plays a role. For example, candy and sticky snacks, like raisins, fruit roll-ups and dried fruit stay in the mouth a long time, which exposes the teeth to acid attacks longer. Choose healthier snacks for your child, like fruits, yogurt, vegetables and cheese. Hard cheese has been shown to kill the bacteria that cause cavities.
12. Are cavities contagious?
Recent studies indicate that the bacteria that cause cavities are contagious. If adults or other family members get cavities frequently, they should not share forks, spoons, etc. Kissing your child on the mouth can also help pass the bacteria to your child. Your saliva has the bacteria which can be transmitted to your child.
13. How can I prevent cavities?
Brushing and flossing removes bacteria and any leftover food particles that cause cavities. For infants without teeth, a wet gauze or washcloth should be used to remove plaque from the gums. Do not put your child to bed with a bottle filled with any liquid other than water.
Once tooth eruption begins, brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day, and begin flossing daily when any two teeth touch. Also, limit the number of sugary snacks that you give to your child.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends your child visit the dentist every six months beginning at their first birthday. Regular visits to the dentist promote a lifetime of good oral health.
Your pediatric dentist may also suggest sealants or home fluoride treatments to prevent decay.
14. Sealants-Seal out Decay
Sealants are white plastic material applied to the chewing surfaces of the molars and premolars, where four out of five cavities in children are found. Sealants protect these decay-prone areas of teeth. They are checked during each appointment and often re-touched.
15. Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (Early Childhood Caries)
Baby bottle tooth decay is a condition caused by frequent and long exposure of an infant’s teeth to liquids containing sugar, including formula milk, breast milk, fruit juice and other sweetened beverages.
Putting a baby to bed for a nap or at bedtime with anything other than water can lead to serious and rapid tooth decay. Sweet liquid pools around in the child’s mouth; giving bacteria an opportunity to produce acids that attack tooth enamel. If your child will not fall asleep without a bottle containing their usual beverage, dilute the contents little by little, within a period of two to three weeks, until the bottle contains only water.
Following each feeding, wipe your baby’s gums using a gauze pad or damp washcloth. It is easier to do this if you place your child’s head in your lap while you are sitting down. Whatever position you choose, make sure can you can look into your child’s mouth easily.
16. When will my baby’s first tooth show up?
Teething or tooth eruption varies among individual babies. Some get their teeth early, while some get them late. Generally, the first teeth, usually the lower front (anterior) teeth begin erupting between the ages of 6-10 months.
17. Eruption Times of Your child’s teeth
The baby or primary teeth begin forming before birth. As early as four months, the first primary teeth to erupt are the lower central incisors, followed by the upper central incisors. Typically, all 20 primary teeth appear by age 3, although the pace and order of eruption vary.
The permanent teeth begin erupting around age 6; beginning with lower incisors and first molars (6-year molars), which erupt behind the last baby tooth in the back of the mouth. It erupts without the loss of a baby tooth. The remaining teeth erupt sequentially till age 12-13 years when all the baby teeth are replaced with permanent teeth.
The wisdom teeth erupt around 16 to 21 years of age. Some wisdom teeth do not come out in the right direction and may not erupt at all. Some time wisdom teeth have to be pulled if they are not coming out in the right direction.