Dental Care for Children
Dental Care for Children
Tooth decay is the most common childhood ailment, but it is almost completely preventable! Good dental habits, proper diet and professional visits starting very early can prevent many dental problems. Children’s Dentistry focuses on the oral health of infants, toddlers, school-age children and adolescents. Typically, a child should be seen by a pediatric dentist (a certified specialist trained in children’s dentistry) by their first birthday. Babies are at risk for cavities as soon as they start getting teeth and many young toddlers develop cavities and other problems before the age of two. A pediatric dentist provides preventative and therapeutic oral health care for infants and children including those with special healthcare needs. They are specially trained to establish trust and confidence in the child through behavioural guidance.
Sometimes parents think that baby teeth aren’t important as they will just “fall out” and therefore don’t need care. However, these baby teeth are vital to the health and well-being of the child and to the health and proper development of their adult teeth. Unattended cavities in baby teeth can develop into painful abscesses that may interfere with the permanent teeth forming below in the underlying jawbone. Premature loss of a baby tooth or loss of space due to a large cavity in a baby tooth, can prevent the proper eruption and positioning of the adult tooth. Other issues such as finger/ thumb-sucking or pacifier use can deform the actively developing jaws and cause bite irregularities, leading to lifelong problems.
Children should be taught to brush their teeth properly with a very soft toothbrush (for babies and small children), using a children’s gel toothpaste. Regular dental visits ensure both parent and child know the proper technique and are keeping the teeth clean. Brushing effectively with a children’s toothpaste that has low fluoride content is essential for dental health. Dry toothbrushing or brushing with no water or toothpaste can also help to remove plaque (the sticky bacterial film that causes cavities and gum disease). These regular dental visits also help detect any developing problems at an early stage so they can be dealt with before they become bigger problems that are more difficult to treat. Examination of the child’s tooth and jaw relationships can detect bite problems to see if interception is needed for proper development.
Aside from proper home care and diet, professional application of “fissure sealants” and fluoride can protect tooth enamel and minimize the risk of cavities. Fissure sealants are a plastic coating that is painlessly applied to the grooves and “fissures” of back teeth, filling in the grooves and preventing cavities from forming in this common problem area.
What is Nitrous Oxide?
Commonly known as “laughing gas” or “happy air”, nitrous oxide may be used to relieve a child’s fear and anxiety during dental treatment. It has a long-term, evidence-based safety record in calming a child during dental treatment. There is no downtime afterwards- the child may resume their normal activities.
Proper childhood care sets the tone for a child’s lifetime dental health and must be a priority!