Board-certified pediatric dentists receive additional training beyond their dental degrees. With this extra education, doctors learn how to make children of all ages feel more comfortable before, after and during treatment, and it allows them to specialize in treating dental issues that are specific to children. Pediatric dentists are also highly skilled with special needs patients, making for more comfortable visits for both children and parents.
Most children lose their first around the age of 6.
Your child’s dentist will begin the first appointment by taking some time to get to you and your kid. They’ll ask a few basic questions about your child’s oral health and any past treatments they may have had at other dental practices.
Your child’s cleaning may be done by a dentist, or by a dental hygienist when your child is comfortable. First, plaque and tartar are removed. The teeth are then buffed and polished with a high-speed toothbrush. Finally, they are flossed to ensure they’re completely clean. Your child’s dentist will examine their mouth thoroughly, looking out for signs of cavities, gum disease, and other oral health issues.
After the cleaning and exam, your child’s dentist will discuss their findings with you. If their teeth are healthy, you’ll schedule another visit in six months. If there is an issue, your child’s doctor will provide treatment options and recommendations, and help you schedule a follow-up appointment to address the issue.
Kids have a difficult time brushing on their own until around the age of 6, or whenever they are coordinated enough to tie their own shoes. Before then, you’ll need to help them with brushing.
For kids over the age of 3, use a pea-sized dab of toothpaste and brush for a total of two minutes at least twice a day, spending 30 seconds on each quadrant of their mouth. As your child grows and begins brushing on their own, we recommend supervising them to ensure they are using the right amount of toothpaste and brushing properly.
If your child complains of a tender or sore tooth that seems sensitive to chewing, hot or cold foods and drinks, or sugary foods, they may have a cavity. You may even be able to see visual signs of tooth decay. Look for brown or black spots or visible holes or pits in the tooth. If you notice these issues, contact your child’s dentist right away for an appointment.
Food that’s good for your child’s body is usually good for their teeth, too. Fibrous vegetables like broccoli, whole grains, milk, yogurt, lean meats, and fresh fruits are all great for growing teeth.
You should avoid overly-processed and sugary or starchy foods like chips, cookies, gummy candies, fruit juice, and soda. The bacteria that cause decay love to feed on simple starches and sugar, so these can contribute to the risk of cavities.
Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps “remineralize” and strengthen teeth that have been affected by minor decay. Your child’s dentist will likely recommend fluoride treatments during their regular dental checkups, but your child can also benefit from using an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Making regular brushing with fluoridated toothpaste a habit can keep your child’s smile bright for years to come.
At-home dental care is important for your child’s oral health, but so is a regular visit with your child’s dentist. Seeing a dentist every 6 months helps you catch potential issues like cavities early, and avoid further dental health problems. In the long run, this can save you a lot of time and money, so make sure that you and your child visit the dentist consistently to get the oral care they need.
Tooth decay is the most common childhood illness.
Pediatric dentists are not the same as “family dentists.” While family dentists treat patients of all ages, pediatric dentists are specially-trained and exclusively treat children, which usually includes patients up to the age of 18. Pediatric dentists must undergo at least 2-3 years of pediatric training after obtaining their dental degree (DMD or DDS).
Through this additional training, doctors learn how to interact with kids, provide care in a friendly, unintimidating way, and catch dental issues early. If you choose a pediatric dentist for your child, you can be sure that they are getting the best possible care tailored to them.
The most common issue, by far, is tooth decay (cavities). 42% of kids between the ages of 2-11 will develop at least one cavity in a baby tooth. Gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease, is less common, but can still affect kids if they are not practicing proper oral hygiene habits. Oral developmental problems with baby teeth and adult teeth can also be a concern, so it’s important to see a dentist regularly to make sure your child’s mouth is developing properly.
The best way to protect your child from cavities is proper at-home oral care. Make sure they brush their teeth at least twice a day for two minutes, and floss once per day. You will likely need to floss for your child until they can do it properly on their own. In addition, make sure they maintain a diet low in sugary foods and beverages, and see their pediatric dentist for an appointment every six months.
Your child should get an ortho screening by the age of 7. Even if there are no obvious issues with their oral development, getting an orthodontic screening from a pediatric dentist or orthodontist can ensure that their mouths are developing properly. And, in the case that your dentist notices an issue, they can use interceptive orthodontics (phase 1 orthodontics) to resolve the issue, and potentially reduce the need for orthodontic treatment later in your child’s life.
A knocked out adult tooth can be saved!