Just as a pediatrician is an essential part of a child’s general health, a pediatric dentist makes up a significant part of maintaining the child’s oral health. Dentistry for kids begins as soon as their first tooth appears, which mostly happens within the first year of their life. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, early visits to the dentist help children learn the importance of their oral health and helps them develop a healthy relationship with their dentist.
Why is Dentistry for Kids Important?
A child starts to get their first set of baby teeth by the time they are 6-8 months old. It is important to ensure that their baby teeth continue to erupt in a healthy manner and make way for a good set of permanent teeth to replace them. For this reason, good oral hygiene, a diet that fulfills all of the child’s nutritional requirements and regular visits to the pediatric dentist should be an important part of the child’s routine.
You would be surprised to learn that dental decay among children is the number one chronic childhood illness in the country; even more common than health problems like asthma or allergies. Children who lose their milk teeth too early due to decay often end up developing more dental issues in the future. In order to avoid unnecessary future visits to the dentist during their adulthood, it is more appropriate to help your child take good care of their teeth and gums from a very young age.
Regular visits to the dentist for frequent consultations also helps in the assessment and monitoring of the tooth eruption sequence. Early intervention in the case of any developing malocclusion or bite problems can prevent the need for an extensive orthodontic treatment in the future.
Importance of a Pediatric Dentist
A pediatric dentist is much like any other dentist. But since children require special care and attention, pediatric dentists undergo extra years of training to make them experts in the field of dentistry for children. While both general dentists and pediatric dentists are capable enough to take care of your child’s oral health, pediatric dentists have a clear advantage over general dentists when it comes to dealing with kids for the following reasons –
- Expertise at working with children of various age groups, including infants, toddlers, teenagers and adolescents.
- Ability to provide counselling with regards to child behaviour, nutritional requirements and oral hygiene practices.
- Early detection of potential dental problems that could go on to cause more dental concern
- Treatments that are aimed specifically towards oral problems affecting children, like early childhood caries (ECC), space management problems due to premature loss of baby teeth etc.
- Offering treatment measures for potentially harmful habits like thumb-sucking, tongue thrusting, mouth breathing etc.
In addition to all of the above, pediatric dentists are also trained to provide treatment to children with special needs in a friendly and comfortable environment. In fact, most pediatric dental offices are designed to offer kids an ambience that makes them feel less anxious within the clinic environment. Kids often have access to books and toys that can keep them entertained during waiting times. The entire staff at a pediatric dentist’s office are trained to work closely with the children and their parents to make their experience a memorable one. The overall kid-friendly environment helps children look forward to their future dental appointments.
Preventative Dentistry for Kids
The most common dental problem that affects children is tooth decay. This is usually due to a diet that may be high in sugar and carbohydrates, and a general inability to practice good oral hygiene among kids. A pediatric dentist employs the following ways to protect your child’s teeth from cavities so they can continue smiling brightly –
Tooth decay is usually caused due to food particles getting lodged into the pits and fissures that cover the tooth’s chewing surface. The teeth at the back of the mouth – the molars and premolars – are most commonly affected by decay since they have a rougher chewing surface and are more difficult to clean properly. Food and bacteria tend to collect onto these surfaces and cause dissolution of the tooth enamel, leading to formation of cavities.
Dental sealants are fluid plastic coatings that can be painted onto the pits and fissures of the tooth surface, which in turn, prevents food from collecting on these surfaces and protects the tooth from decay. Dental sealants are usually applied onto the permanent molars of your child as soon as they erupt in the mouth.
Fluoride has long been proven to be helpful in preventing tooth decay and is a common constituent used in toothpastes. Direct fluoride application on the surfaces of the tooth can offer even better protection against enamel loss caused by accumulation of plaque and bacteria.
The application of fluoride onto the tooth surface incorporates fluoride ions into the tooth structure, which contributes to its structural strength and makes it stronger. While dental sealants are commonly used for permanent teeth only, fluoride application is often done on both baby teeth and adult teeth.
While the measures mentioned above are immensely helpful in protecting your child’s teeth against decay, they do not diminish the importance of brushing at least twice a day. Brushing their teeth before going to bed at night is even more essential since food lodged between their teeth can cause bacteria to fester overnight and make their teeth more prone to cavities.
How to Find the Perfect Pediatric Dentist?
When looking for a good ‘pediatric dentist near me’, try to find a dental office that is easily accessible from your location. Look for the educational qualifications of the dentist of your choice and make sure they have the right training to provide dental care to your child.
At Anoka Dental, we offer the highest quality of pediatric dental care for your child in a professional yet comfortable environment. For us, dentistry for kids isn’t just about their healthy smiles. It is also about making them feel welcome at our office and having them leave with the memory of a pleasant experience. Bring your kids to our dental home and notice the improvement in your child’s oral health.