Little girl at pediatric dentist

The Importance of Pediatric Dentistry

Taking care of your dental health is crucial. Amazingly, your dental health is directly related to many other aspects of your overall health. Bad dental health has been shown to lead to other health problems such as diabetes, heart problems and even strokes. Learning to care for your teeth and mouth is very important. From the time you begin to have teeth as a small child all the way thru your life, you need to stay on top of your oral hygiene care. Having a dentist who is trained in pediatric dentistry will help guide and advise you on the proper oral health and hygiene care needed for your child.

Caring for Children’s Teeth

Once that first cute little tooth pops through their gums, you need to begin to care for it. According to Baby Center, on average a child will receive their first tooth between the ages of four to seven months. Over the next three years or so your child will intermittently receive the rest of their teeth until they have a full set of chompers counting in at twenty teeth total. At that young age, the child is unable to care for themselves. As the caregiver, it’s your responsibility to care for their oral health and hygiene.

Toothbrush and pasteThere are small toothbrushes made just for babies and then toddlers as well. To start, there are non-fluoride pastes you should use. At that young age they are more prone to swallowing the toothpaste and swallowing fluoride is not good for you. Consult with your pediatric dentist on when you should switch to a fluoridated paste. Just like any other oral care advice, you need to brush twice a day. Once your child has enough teeth in and you are not able to reach all surfaces of the tooth you will need to begin flossing. There are fun shaped and colored flossers that make this process easier as opposed to using loose dental floss! As your child gets older, educate them on the proper way to brush. You will most likely still need to assist them to ensure their teeth are properly brushed and cared for up until around age six.

A large problem with young children is baby bottle tooth decay, which is early childhood cavities. The most common cause is frequent exposure to sweetened liquids such as breast milk, baby formula and juice. When used as a naptime or bedtime drink, the risk of tooth decay is heightened. The sweetened liquids remain in the mouth for an extended amount of time. Oral bacteria feed on the sugar and release harmful acids to combat the sugars. This acid wears away the tooth enamel causing decay and potential cavities. To help prevent against this common issue be sure to stay on top of your child’s oral hygiene. Don’t allow them to have a bottle or sippy cup during sleep periods. If you do, provide them with plain water. Also, fluoride treatments will strengthen tooth enamel and help prevent against tooth decay.

Why Pediatric Dentistry is Important

Kid at the dentistA very frequent question is “When should my child begin to see the dentist?”. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a well-baby checkup around the age of twelve months. By beginning regular dental checks early on your dentist can help monitor growth and education. A common myth is you don’t have to care for baby teeth because they will later fall out. This is false! Baby teeth hold the space for the permanent teeth. Keeping this space cared for provides for a healthy growing environment. Properly caring for baby teeth is also instrumental in facilitating good chewing habits and proper speech production. Your pediatric dentist can monitor the growth of your child’s teeth and watch out for signs of any potential dental problems. They will be able to anticipate issues and intervene quickly to either prevent or fix the problem before it worsens. Your dentist will also be able to educate you and your child on proper oral health and hygiene plans.

Potential Pediatric Dental Problems

Even with consistent and good oral care habits, sometimes other oral problems can arise. In the case of oral injuries, your dentist can help fix and get your child on the healing path. Depending on the severity of the injury oral surgery may be needed. Your dentist will be able to assess the damage and advise you on the appropriate course of action. If your child suffers from malocclusion, bad bite, your dentist will be able to fit your child with space maintainers to correct the issue.

Another common issue is bruxism, teeth grinding. Some children grind their teeth during daytime hours but more often than not nighttime grinding is the most prevalent. Childhood bruxism can lead to a wide range of dental problems depending on the frequency, intensity and the underlying causes of the grinding. The most common cause of bruxism is a bad bite or jaw misalignment. Stress is also a major contributing factor of bruxism. Life stressors such as moving, changing schools and divorce can contribute to your child’s stress and potential lead to teeth grinding. Some signs to look for that could potentially indicate your child is grinding their teeth at night are:

  • Complaints of headache, especially in the morning
  • Injured/Cracked teeth
  • Complaints about painful jaw muscles
  • Unusual tooth sensitivity
  • Loud grinding or clicking sounds while sleeping

Consult with your pediatric dentist if you notice any of these symptoms. Oftentimes there is wear on your child’s teeth that will show the child is grinding their teeth. Your dentist will be able to see this and take action for correction. There are a couple of different courses that could be taken depending on the severity. If it’s caused by misalignment the dentist will take steps to correct this either by a retainer, occlusal treatment or altering the biting surface using crowns. If stress it the cause, therapy or relaxation classes may be recommended. Your child’s pediatrician may even subscribe a muscle relaxer to help reduce jaw clenching and spasms. At times a nighttime dental appliance, such as a mouth guard, may be used. This allows for a block and protection for the teeth against the grinding.

Envision Dental for you Pediatric Dentistry Needs

DentistEnvision Dental in Port Orange Florida is trained in pediatric dentistry. Going to the dentist can be a frightening experience for children. An important factor of pediatric dentistry is child psychology. Here at Envision Dental we are trained to create a friendly, fun and social atmosphere for children. We avoid threatening and scary words such as drill, needle and injection. Dental phobias are often established in childhood and can carry thru to adulthood. It’s important to have a positive experience from the start to avoid these phobias to ensure proper oral care in the future. Envision Dental can be your dental home. Contact us here to setup your appointment.