Pediatric Dentistry – The Practice of Caring For Children’s Teeth, Mouth and Gums

Pediatric dentistry is the practice of caring for children’s teeth, mouth and gums from infancy through their teenage years. It encompasses prevention and intervention of diseases like cavities, gum disease and malocclusion.

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The goal is to encourage good oral hygiene habits in kids that will last a lifetime. Pediatric dentists use kid-friendly tools and provide a welcoming environment that reduces dental anxiety.

Pediatric Dentists Have Kid-Friendly Tools

Having kid-friendly tools makes it easier to perform dental procedures on children of all ages. Pediatric dentists have smaller versions of the dental equipment typically used by adults, and they also use less intimidating tools such as small tooth models. This makes the experience more fun for kids and can lead to positive memories of dental visits in the future.

In addition, pediatric dentists know how to communicate with kids in an effective and age-appropriate way. They explain things in a clear, concise manner and demonstrate how to use dental tools in a non-threatening way. They help children establish good oral habits that can last a lifetime and prevent future dental problems.

Pediatric dentistry also includes preventative care such as fluoride treatments, sealants and advice on thumb-sucking/pacifier cessation, oral injury management and bruxism (grinding). Having the right skills, knowledge and training to work with kids is essential for a positive in-office experience, especially when delivering dental services under sedation or anesthesia. Using child-friendly sedation techniques like inhalation of nitrous oxide or the transmucosal administration of midazolam can make children more comfortable and reduce their need for intravenous access. The use of EMLA (eutectic mixture of lidocaine and prilocaine) cream before needle puncture also reduces pain from the procedure. Having a strong relationship with the patient can make it easier to complete the necessary procedures and provide the best results.

They Offer a Variety of Treatments

Pediatric dentists are specially trained to treat dental issues that arise in children. They offer a variety of treatments in a child-friendly environment, and work to help kids develop good oral health habits that last a lifetime.

Children’s teeth grow and change throughout childhood. They get their first set of primary, baby teeth within the first six months of life and lose them around age six or seven as they are replaced by secondary, permanent teeth. It’s important to visit the dentist regularly to keep an eye on these changes and ensure that any dental problems are addressed early.

One of the most common dental problems in children is tooth decay, which can cause pain and infection if left untreated. Pediatric dentists are able to fill these cavities, and they can also offer fluoride treatments that help prevent future decay and encourage healthy teeth.

A pediatric dentist can also address malocclusion, which is the misalignment of the upper and lower jaws. This issue may cause problems biting and chewing, and it can lead to more complicated dental surgeries later in life. Pediatric dentists can address this by providing interceptive orthodontic treatment to help improve the relationship between the teeth and jaws. This can avoid the need for braces and other more invasive procedures. X-rays are another treatment offered by pediatric dentists to detect potential problems before they are visible to the naked eye.

They Work with Parents

In addition to teaching children good oral hygiene, pediatric dentists also help parents and guardians understand the importance of regular dental visits. They are familiar with kids’ dental development and behavior and can offer advice and encouragement on everything from thumb sucking to diet, to helping children with special needs maintain healthy habits.

They can also explain the effects of poor oral health on overall well-being. This helps parents keep track of their child’s progress and identify any problems that may need further care, such as tooth decay or misalignment. Regular visits can make sure kids are comfortable with dentistry and develop the healthy behaviors that will last a lifetime.

Kids can be frightened of going to the dentist, especially their first visit, so pediatric practices often try to make them feel at home. Whether through colorful themes, video games or treasure box gifts, they use tools and techniques designed to appeal to children. They can even talk with them about things they’re interested in, such as favorite movies or characters. In some cases, it’s a good idea for parents to accompany their children into the exam room. This can help ease anxiety or distract them during procedures. But it’s important that they leave the room after a short period of time, as this can teach their children to trust in adults rather than themselves.

They Take X-Rays

While x-rays may have a reputation for being unsafe, modern protections make them among the safest diagnostic tools available. Pediatric dentists have extensive training in minimizing any radiation exposure to children. They are also careful to order x-ray studies only when they are necessary. Regular x-rays pose far less risk than undiagnosed tooth decay and can prevent problems like impacted teeth, bone loss and other issues that can’t be seen through a visual exam.

Dental x-rays provide detailed images of your child’s teeth and the supporting structures. They allow the dentist to catch problems that would be impossible to see with a visual examination, such as a cavity between baby teeth. They can also check for alignment and identify impacted teeth. In addition, x-rays can help spot abnormalities in the developing jaw.

The frequency of x-rays depends on your child’s age and their risk for cavities. In general, the dentist will recommend x-rays once a year for children and twice a year for teens. Occlusal x-rays provide pictures of the entire upper and lower rows of teeth. Panoramic x-rays give the dentist a comprehensive view of both the upper and lower teeth and are used to detect abscesses or cysts. Cephalometric x-rays are used to examine the head and jaw for abnormalities such as tumors or growths.

Digital x-rays offer instant and precise images, and they emit about 80% less radiation than traditional film. In addition, the dentist can use filters to single out specific areas for x-rays and shields to protect other parts of the body from exposure.