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Pediatric Dentistry: When Does a Child Need a Dentist?

Pediatric Dentistry: When Does a Child Need a Dentist?

Where does a child go to get their teeth checked? Regular dental visits every six months are highly recommended for the average adult, but what is the case for children? Pediatric dentistry is a field of dentistry that specially caters to the dental needs of children. It is highly recommended that parents bring their children to the dentist by their first birthday.

With this in mind, we can hardly expect a child to go to the same dental clinic an adult goes to. This is because children have their very own varied set of needs and behavioral management when it comes to their dental health. A pediatric dentist is fully trained and equipped to accommodate these requirements. A regular dentist might not have the tools nor the most suitable environment for children.

What You Need to Know About Pediatric Dentistry

A pediatric dentist (or a pedodontist) is a dentist who can diagnose and treat the dental problems of children. They take care of children of all ages, beginning from their infancy years up to young adulthood.

Usually, they also treat patients with special needs.

In general, pediatric dentistry is dedicated to providing oral treatment that will make children more comfortable during this process. This is why it is common to find tools and even clinic decorations that are more fun and eye-catching in these pediatric dental clinics.

What Do They Do?

Pediatric dentists can perform a variety of treatments for the holistic care of a child or special needs person’s oral health. Listed below are a few of these treatments.

  1. Oral health exams in infants and risk assessment for dental caries (more commonly known as tooth decay) in infants
  2. Teeth cleaning and fluoride treatments as preventative procedures
  3. Diet and nutrition recommendations for healthier oral health
  4. Counseling for habits such as thumb-sucking, pacifier use, and continued bottle-feeding
  5. Assessment and early treatment for correcting possibly bite problems
  6. Treatments for tooth cavities, dental abscess and pain in the mouth area
  7. Providing diagnosis for oral symptoms associated with other diseases like diabetes, congenital heart defect, asthma, and hay fever
  8. Providing care for dental injuries like knocked-out teeth

Pediatric Dentistry: How to Take Care of Baby Teeth

What some people might not realize is that children have their own specific set of dental problem.

When a baby is born, they already have 20 primary teeth partially developed. While you might not see them, it is important to know that they’re there in the jaw.

It’s good to practice good dental hygiene early in a baby’s life. To properly clean a baby’s mouth at home, parents can gently wipe a clean, warm cloth over their baby’s gums. This is to remove any possible harmful bacteria.

When children begin to brush their own teeth, it is important to supervise them while they’re at any age younger than 8 years old because there is always a high risk of them swallowing toothpaste as well as not removing the dental plaque build-up that needs to be removed.

If a child is active in sports, parents should encourage the use of mouthguard. This is to prevent any teeth injuries or misalignments. These misalignments can knock out baby teeth prematurely. One of the important purposes of baby teeth is to reserve a place for permanent teeth.

Pediatric Dentistry Issues Specific to Children

There are other dental issues or changes that children experience. This is why it becomes so important to regularly visit a pediatric dentist.

The first dental issue a child can experience is baby bottle tooth decay. This specific kind of tooth decay results from bacteria that feed on the sugars that the baby’s teeth come into contact with. If a baby has unswallowed milk in their mouth or if their diet is high in sugar, it increases the risk of baby bottle tooth decay. Severe decay can also lead to an infection that has a high risk of spreading to other areas of the body.

Other pediatric dentistry issues a child could experience are thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and lip sucking. All three have the common factor of causing teeth misalignment because of the force being put on the teeth by the thumb, the tongue, or the lip. It is important for parents to spot this habit beyond the recommended age and to stop it before heavy teeth misalignment can occur.

Key Takeaways

Good oral hygiene includes healthy practices at home and regular checkups to a pediatric dentist. With the number of problems that could possibly affect the dental health of children, it is important for parents to stay on top of their child’s health.

Pediatric dentistry is a specific field that ensures children’s health are put at the forefront because even though baby teeth are temporary, they still have an important role in a child’s holistic well-being.

Learn more about Pediatric Dentistry here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

What is a pedodontist/pediatric dentist? https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/qa/what-is-a-pedodontistpediatric-dentist, Accessed March 16, 2021

What is a Pediatric Dentist? https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/health-management/pediatric-specialists/Pages/What-is-a-Pediatric-Dentist.aspx, Accessed March 16, 2021

Keeping Your Child’s Teeth Healthy, https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/healthy.html?ref=search, Accessed March 16, 2021

Children’s Oral Health, https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/childrens-oral-health/index.html, Accessed March 16, 2021

Oral Health Problems in Children, https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/oral-health-problems-children, Accessed March 16, 2021

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Written by Veronika Caraos Updated Nov 10, 2021
Medically reviewed by Grazielle Millo-Paderes, DDM, MSc