Pediatric dentists care for children of all ages. From first tooth to adolescence, they help your child develop a healthy smile until they’re ready to move on to a general dentist. Pediatric dentists have had 2-3 years of special training to care for young children and adolescents.
Your child’s first tooth will typically erupt between 6 and 12 months, although it is common to occur earlier. Usually, the two bottom front teeth – the central incisors – erupt first, followed by four upper front teeth – called the central and lateral incisors. Your child should have their first full set of teeth by their third birthday.
Permanent teeth start to appear around age 6, beginning with the first molars and lower central incisors. The age of 8, is generally when the bottom 4 primary teeth (the lower central and lateral incisors) and the top 4 primary teeth (the upper central and lateral incisors) begin to fall out and permanent teeth take their place. The rest of the permanent teeth will start to come in around age 10. Permanent teeth can continue to erupt until approximately age 21. Adults have 32 permanent teeth including the third molars (called wisdom teeth).
Baby teeth may be temporary, but they serve a very important role in the development and health of your child. They help your child to chew promoting proper nutrition. They also assist the child to speak in a normal manner.
Baby teeth hold space in the jaw for your child’s permanent teeth as well. If a baby tooth is lost too soon it can lead to teeth crowding which in turn can cause alignment issues when the permanent teeth begin to emerge leading to biting problems.
One of the most common forms of early childhood caries is “baby bottle tooth decay,” which is caused by the continuous exposure of a baby’s teeth to sugary drinks. Baby bottle tooth decay primarily affects the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also be affected.
Early symptoms of baby bottle tooth decay are white spots on the surface of teeth or on the gum line, and tooth sensitivity. More severe symptoms can appear in advanced stages of baby bottle tooth decay, and include brown or black spots on teeth, bleeding or swollen gums, fever, and bad breath. If your child shows any of these symptoms, you need to see your pediatric dentist immediately to prevent further, more complicated problems from occurring.
- Don’t send your child to bed with a bottle of anything EXCEPT water.
- Clean your baby’s gums after each meal.
- Gently brush your child’s first tooth.
- Limit sugary drinks and food.
Contact our office. We can schedule a same day visit for your child. If you are an existing patient, we offer after-hours access to our pediatric dentists. Just call the office and you will be directed to the after-hours emergency service.
If your child fractures a tooth, then gather any fragments you can find and store them in a clean container of milk, or saliva of the child that lost the tooth. Never use water to transport a broken or knocked out tooth.
It is important that you visit the dentist immediately to prevent infection and other complications that are brought on by chipped or knocked out teeth. If the tooth is knocked out, only touch the crown of the tooth and not the root.
If you child experiences a cut on their tongue, cheek or lip, bleeding can usually be stopped by applying clean gauze to the affected area. You can also apply ice to the area to help stop the bleeding.
If you cannot stop the bleeding, call your pediatric dentist, or visit the emergency room. If your child has an open oral wound, for a long period of time they can be susceptible to infection.
If your child has a toothache which persists for more than 24 hours, contact our office. Persistent toothaches can indicate more serious problems that need to be observed by a dental professional.
Orthodontic Treatment can be recognized as early as 2-3 years of age. Often, preventative steps can be taken to help reduce the need for major orthodontic treatment later on.
From ages 2 to 6, the main concern would be habits such as finger or thumb sucking. underdeveloped dental arches, and early loss of primary teeth.
From ages 6 to 12, treatment options deal with jaw and dental alignment problems. This is a great time to start treatment, as your child’s hard and soft tissues are usually very responsive to orthodontic or orthopedic forces.
We offer several options to treat our patients who have difficulty relaxing and feeling comfortable while in the dental chair. Our primary tool is the use of nitrous oxide or laughing gas. This is a safe and effective sedative agent that is inhaled through a small mask that fits over the child’s nose. We have had great success with this tool and many years of experience in its use.
Nitrous oxide does put the child to sleep which makes it a very safe and effective form of sedation for pediatric patients. The effects of nitrous oxide are temporary and wear off soon after the mask is removed – another plus for this treatment.
More complex treatments may require deeper sedation to relieve both pain and anxiety. On occasion we recommend general anesthesia which we perform outside of our office.
Dental X-Rays are very safe and the amount of radiation from dental X-Rays is very small. Today’s equipment filters out unnecessary x-rays and restricts the x-ray beam to the area of interest. Dental X-Rays are designed to limit the body’s exposure.
Pediatric dentists are very careful to minimize the exposure of their patients to radiation. In fact, dental radiographs represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem.
To prevent cavities, we suggest enjoying a mouth-healthy diet, full of fibrous fruits and vegetables. Drink more water, which prevents dry mouth and naturally cleans teeth. Brush twice a day for two minutes at a time, and floss daily. Visit your dentist every six months for routine checkups and preventative care.
Dental sealants work to prevent cavities by sealing pits and fissures that naturally occur in molars. Sealants “seal off” the pit and fissure of molars to prevent food and plaque from collecting and forming cavities.
Fluoride is nature’s own cavity fighter. Fluoride is naturally found in all sources of water such as lakes, rivers and even the ocean. Fluoride is added to most public water supplies, so the tap water in your home has fluoride added to it. Fluoride helps build tooth enamel which helps protect your teeth from tooth decay.
For more than half a century, the ADA has recommended using toothpaste containing fluoride to prevent cavities. Fluoridated toothpaste does an excellent job of cleaning teeth, but make sure that your child spits all of it out and rinses their mouth thoroughly after brushing.