Pediatric Dentistry: Oral care for kids
Healthy teeth and gums in young children are important for the betterment of their general well-being. While parents are often stringent about the care they seek for the healthy physical and mental growth and development of their young kids, oral health should also be at the forefront of every parent’s upbringing.
Cavities, also known as tooth decay or dental caries are one of the most common dental ailments of childhood in the United States. Untreated cavities and other oral issues can cause significant damage to the cognitive behavior of the child. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children who present with poor oral health often miss more school and receive lower grades than children who don’t. Oral care for kids through pediatric dentistry is of paramount importance.
What is pediatric dentistry?
The Handbook of Pediatric Dentistry (Fourth Edition) written by Richard P Widmer and Angus C Cameron describes pediatric dentistry as a specialty-based branch of dentistry that encompasses all of dentistry’s technical skill set combined with the psychological assessment of child development in health and disease. Pediatric dentists provide oral care for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs, according to the American Dental Association (ADA).
What services do pediatric dentists provide?
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that pediatric dentists provide comprehensive oral health care that includes the following services:
- Dental examination of infants
- Risk assessment for caries in mother and child
- Preventative dental care such as cleaning and fluoride treatments
- Recommendations on nutrition and diet
- Counseling for potentially detrimental habits such as pacifier use or thumbsucking
- Correction of improper bite alignment and malalignment
- Straightening teeth (Pediatric orthodontics)
- Restoration of tooth cavities and defects
- Management of gum diseases and pediatric periodontal diseases
- Urgent care for fractured, knocked-out, or displaced teeth
How to care for pediatric oral health?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has set strict guidelines for parents to follow to influence the good oral health of their children.
- Infants (Children younger than 2)
An infant is born with all its baby teeth concealed under a layer of gum tissue. At about 6 months of age, their baby teeth or primary teeth begin to erupt. This is when oral care for infants should begin.
- Wipe your baby’s gums with a soft washcloth after feeding. This helps remove stray bacteria that could cause tooth decay.
- Once the teeth erupt, brush them twice a day with fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear the size of a grain of rice. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Baby bottle tooth decay, also known as early childhood caries can happen when babies drink milk or formula from bottles for a prolonged period of time or fall asleep with the bottle. Take away the bottle as soon as the baby is done drinking.
- Schedule your baby’s first dental appointment with a specialized pediatric dentist before their first birthday or after his or her first baby tooth is visible, whichever comes first.
- Toddlers (Children younger than 6)
By the age of 3, all of a child’s primary or milk teeth would have erupted. Baby teeth start falling out at around the age of 6 when permanent or adult teeth begin coming in. Most permanent teeth would have come in by age 13.
- Make sure to watch your children brush to inculcate a habit of regular brushing.
- Help them brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste according to the recommendations of the ADA.
- Use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
- Ensure that they do not swallow the toothpaste, but spit it.
- Start flossing as soon as the upper and lower teeth begin to touch.
- In order to prevent dental decay, make sure the child drinks lots of fluoridated water.
- Keep the child’s diet low in processed sugar and rich in fruits, vegetables, and water to lower the risk of cavities and other oral health complications.
- Schedule your child’s appointment with a pediatric dentist at least twice a year.
- Kids (Children below 13)
As children grow older, their teeth begin to grow as well. By 13, all of their adult teeth would have erupted so it is important to follow oral hygiene routines more diligently.
- Make sure your children are regularly brushing their teeth with fluoridated toothpaste at least twice a day for 2 minutes.
- Flossing should be implemented in your child’s everyday dental care regimen.
- Choose healthier foods for the entire family to enjoy. Green vegetables and fruits should be a staple every day.
- The California Dental Association (CDA) suggests limiting the consumption of sodas and candies for your children. They contain high levels of sugar that can not only hamper your child’s dental health but also puts them at risk of acquiring diabetes due to weight problems.
- Encourage the use of mouth guards when playing contact sports to protect their teeth from injuries.
- Visit a pediatric dentist at least twice a year.
It is very important to take care of your child’s oral health to ensure proper care of his or her general health. The American Board of Pediatric Dentistry recognizes that safety is an essential component in maintaining quality oral health care of infants, children, and adolescents. It is for this reason that you should be careful when looking for a pediatric dentist who specializes in the field. You can find experienced and brilliant pediatric dentists with the help of 4Smile and safeguard the health of your child and your family. Book appointments with 4Smile now!