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Answers to Pediatric Dentistry Questions

pediatric dentistry, little girls sits in dental chair
Happy young girl sitting in dental chair with open mouth while professional dentist doing regular check up of teeth using dental probe and mirror. Female nurse assisting.

Looking after your children’s teeth is vital. In this post, we answer parents’ most common questions. 

What is the difference between a dentist and a pediatric dentist? 

A regular dentist is a trained medical professional who has completed dental training and works on patients of all ages. By contrast, a pediatric dentist is a dental practitioner who has completed a specialist course designed to help them cater to children’s specific needs. 

Children can go to a regular dentist. However, pediatric dentists help to make the experience more pleasant for them, encouraging them to return to the dentist’s chair in the future without feeling fearful or anxious. 

Pediatric dentists also tend to provide treatment for children with the most severe oral health issues. Thus, they are specialists that parents can turn to for dental emergencies. 

At what ages does a pediatric dentist treat patients? 

Pediatric dentists treat children from birth to adolescence. Usually, dentists recommend that children visit the dentist as soon as their milk teeth begin to come through (or after their milk teeth erupt) to get them used to the dentists’ office. By going when they are young, dentists hope they will feel more comfortable returning when older. 

Pediatric dentists can also help children manage developmental issues from birth too. If you notice an obvious problem with your child’s teeth or gums when they are very young, you can take them to a pediatric dentist for specialist advice and treatment. 

Why is pediatric dentistry important? 

Pediatric dentistry is essential for two main reasons. First, it helps to ensure that a child’s teeth are developing normally. And second, it makes it more likely that children will maintain good oral health throughout their adult lives. 

The habits that children develop in childhood are crucial for determining their future oral health. Good routines mean better health long-term, and fewer trips to the dentist. 

Pediatric dentists have special training that enables them to better communicate with children. They help develop good brushing and flossing habits early on in life, reducing the likelihood of cavities and many other oral health problems later. 

Many young children do not know how to brush their teeth correctly and repeatedly make the same mistakes. Pediatric dentists can advise older children on the causes of decay, the importance of eating the right diet, and how to brush all the surfaces of the teeth. 

Pediatric dentists also provide helpful advice to parents or caregivers of very young children, showing them how something as simple as the child falling asleep with a bottle of juice or milk in their mouth can lead to tooth decay. They can coach you on the importance of encouraging your child to drink breast milk or approved formulas. And they show you how to brush young teeth properly. They may also discourage night-time breastfeeding after the child’s first teeth come through, as this may damage them. 

It is worth pointing out how common childhood oral health problems are. Estimates suggest that around 60 percent of elementary school-age children have some form of preventable tooth decay. And around 20 percent have cavities in more than seven teeth. 

When Should I start brushing my baby’s teeth? 

Just like adult teeth, kids’ teeth are a magnet for plaque, allowing bacteria to thrive. Leaving them unbrushed can lead to the development of tooth decay and cavities. 

You can start brushing your baby’s teeth from the moment they appear – usually at around six months. 

Start by cleaning them by wiping them with a soft cloth or brushing them with a small toothbrush and water. If your baby is very young, you should not use toothpaste. 

At around 18 months, you can add regular fluoride-containing toothpaste to your teeth-cleaning routine. Use a small, pea-sized amount and brush their teeth just as you would your own. Once you’ve finished, encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste. If they are having trouble with this, show them the action yourself. 

Children will continue to need help with brushing their teeth until around seven or eight years of age. It is essential to teach them the correct technique so that they can use it for the rest of their lives. Sometimes, both children and parents are unaware of the approach they should use, which can create issues further down the line. Pediatric dentists can instruct both children and parents on the proper techniques that ensure full brushing of all the surfaces in the mouth. 

You can make brushing easier via various methods, including singing while you brush or making the toothbrush into a train. You can also distract a child with a toy while you brush if they find it distressing. 

How often should you brush a 2-year-old’s teeth? 

Ideally, you should clean all teeth surfaces at least twice per day, once after breakfast and once before bed. Until your child is 18 months old, you should only use water unless instructed otherwise by a dental professional. However, you can start using small amounts of low-fluoride toothpaste to strengthen the enamel from two years. 

Where possible, try to include your child in the process. Get them to hold the toothbrush as you scrub to feel what the action is like. 

Start by sitting behind them, facing a mirror so that they can see both you and their own mouth. Then ask them to open their mouth. Insert the toothbrush and angle the bristles towards the gum while supporting their chin in your hand. 

Then just maintain this angle while brushing all around the mouth, back and forth over all the teeth’ surfaces. If possible, try to brush your child’s tongue, which can be a magnet for bacteria. Once you’re done, encourage your child to spit out any remaining toothpaste or rinse it out with water. 

Remember, most tap water contains added fluoride designed to harden children’s teeth. Thus, they are getting small amounts of the chemical every day if you give them water to drink or use it in your cooking.

To schedule and appointment for pediatric dental services, contact us today.