While traditional dentistry focuses on oral hygiene and preventing, diagnosing and treating oral You can think of the pediatric dentist as the pediatrician of dentistry. After completing four years of dental school a pediatric dentist goes on to receive two to three more years of specialized training in meeting the dental needs of infants, children and adolescents. During residency training pediatric dentists are exposed to in depth training in managing dental emergencies in children, hospital treatment with general anesthesia, sedation dentistry, and analyzing oral growth and development. In addition, during their residency period pediatric dentists gain experience treating children with many different medical conditions.
Pediatric dentists limit their practices to children from infancy through the teenage years. The very young, pre-teens, and teenagers all need different approaches in dealing with their behavior, guiding their dental growth and development, and helping them avoid future dental problems. Pediatric dentists focus on prevention as well as early detection and treatment of any dental diseases that may arise in children. We are trained in ways to help children have a pleasant dental visit so they will feel good about visiting the dentist and can learn how to care for their teeth.
Care of Your Child’s Teeth
Begin daily brushing as soon as the child’s first tooth erupts. A pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste can be used after the child is old enough not to swallow it. By age 4 or 5, children should be able to brush their own teeth twice a day with supervision until about age seven to make sure they are doing a thorough job. However, each child is different. Your dentist can help you determine whether the child has the skill level to brush properly.
Proper brushing removes plaque from the inner, outer and chewing surfaces. When teaching children to brush, place toothbrush at a 45 degree angle; start along gum line with a soft bristle brush in a gentle circular motion. Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower. Repeat the same method on the inside surfaces and chewing surfaces of all the teeth. Finish by brushing the tongue to help freshen breath and remove bacteria.
Flossing removes plaque between the teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing should begin when any two teeth touch. You may wish to floss the child’s teeth until he or she can do it alone. Use about 18 inches of floss, winding most of it around the middle fingers of both hands. Hold the floss lightly between the thumbs and forefingers. Use a gentle, back-and-forth motion to guide the floss between the teeth. Curve the floss into a C-shape and slide it into the space between the gum and tooth until you feel resistance. Gently scrape the floss against the side of the tooth. Repeat this procedure on each tooth. Don’t forget the backs of the last four teeth.
How Do I Prevent Cavities?
Good oral hygiene removes bacteria and the left over food particles that combine to create cavities. For infants, use a wet gauze or clean washcloth to wipe the plaque from teeth and gums. Avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle filled with anything other than water. See “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay” for more information.
For older children, brush their teeth at least twice a day. Also, watch the number of snacks containing sugar that you give your children.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends six month visits to the pediatric dentist beginning at your child’s first birthday. Routine visits will start your child on a lifetime of good dental health.