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Pediatric Dentistry: Caring for Children’s Dental Health

Young boy having dental work done by female dentist.

Your child begins to get teeth during the first few months of their life. As they grow, you’ll learn to care for the incoming teeth and their dental hygiene. Just when you get used to the routine, their teeth will start to fall out, around 6-7 years.

Even baby teeth need proper dental care. Dental problems don’t go away when baby teeth fall out, so it’s important to learn how to care for your child’s teeth at the beginning.

We’ve put together some tips about when to start and what to know about pediatric dentistry below. Take a look!

When to Start

Caring for children’s teeth and gums start early. In fact, as soon as their first tooth comes in, you should begin caring for their oral hygiene.

You can begin brushing their one tooth as soon as they have it. This will help your child get used to how a toothbrush feels in their mouth and used to the routine of brushing after breakfast and before bedtime.

Choose a fun soft bristle toothbrush that fits their mouth to help make it an enjoyable activity for them. You can involve your child by taking them to the store to help pick out their toothbrush with a favorite character on it. Be sure to replace your child’s toothbrush every 3 months to prevent bacteria buildup.

Children’s dentistry is an important part of their oral hygiene as well. You can schedule your infant or toddler’s first dental appointment as early as 12 months of age.

At their first appointment, our dentist will examine your child’s existing teeth and help you understand how to care for their oral health. Dr. Moulton is focused on family care, and he has a family of his own. Even the smallest patients are important.

Getting Started with Pediatric Dentistry

After their first appointment, you may wonder when you would need to return with your child. How often children should visit a pediatric dentist is a question in many parents’ minds, but the answer is the same as for adult patients.

You should schedule a dentist visit for your child every 6 months to monitor their oral health and catch any possible problems as early as possible. Having the help of a dental professional can help you navigate the ins and outs of your children cutting teeth, losing teeth, and keeping teeth healthy. They can tell you what signs and symptoms to watch out for, like those below.

Signs of a Problem

Being involved in your child’s dental care is one of the best ways for you to detect possible issues. Help them brush and floss, and watch carefully as they practice on their own. Here are some of the signs and symptoms that there may be a dental problem.

Look for alignment issues with their teeth, along with white or brown spots on their teeth.

It’s a red flag if you have any indications of pain associated with their teeth. Check for sensitivity to hot or cold and irritated gums. Swelling can show you where potential pain spots might be. 

If you detect one of the problems above, or another one that you’re worried about it, reach out to us. We can help you schedule an appointment with the dentist to examine the child’s teeth and recommend treatment.

In the event that your child needs fillings, there are tooth-colored options so they are less noticeable. They’re also less invasive than people think, and they provide a long-lasting solution.

Best Ways to Care for Teeth and Gums

What can you do at home to care for your child’s oral health? In between dental visits, there are plenty of steps you can take to take care of their teeth and gums.

One of the best ways to care for your child’s teeth and gums is to limit their sugar intake. This can be in the form of candy and sweet treats, as well as drinks like juice or soft drinks. Even electrolyte drinks can have lots of sugar in them, which isn’t good for infants’ and toddlers’ teeth.

Another step to take is making dental care a priority. Children who start early at the dentist will learn that this is a regular part of their routine and that the dentist isn’t scary. They won’t mind being a patient when they become a patient at a young age.

Help them with their brushing. Set a timer for them so they know when they have brushed for long enough. Watch closely to make sure they are getting all the corners.

Go over their teeth a second time if necessary. You can brush their teeth for them after they’ve had a chance to try, so they still feel involved but you’re sure they’re clean. This is an important step for preventing periodontal disease.

Teach them to floss early. Even if the gaps between their teeth haven’t closed yet, you can still help them learn to floss. Show them the right way, and demonstrate with your own teeth.

If flossing is part of their tooth care routine and they have the skills to do it, it will be easy to incorporate as their gaps shrink and flossing becomes vital to their oral health.

Other Issues

Dr. Moulton’s expertise will help if your child encounters other dental problems, too. Sometimes there can be genetic issues or oral conditions associated with other health problems. Sometimes children have accidents, and you may have a dental emergency.

Because of his experience, Dr. Moulton can work with you and your child to have a great dental visit. Children aren’t always capable of sitting still or being patient through an exam. This is why our team has an office designed with children in mind, and special tools to help them get through their appointment.

Incredible Care

It’s our goal at Lexington Family Smiles to help you experience a different kind of dentistry. We want to provide individual care and support as you seek pediatric dentistry for your children. 

Reach out with any questions you have about the care we provide or request an appointment today.

Pediatric Dentistry: Why It Is Important and When to Start

pediatric dentist working on a youg girl

Pediatric dentistry refers to looking after the oral health of young children. As a child grows up, they face many dental changes over the years. Therefore, it’s important that you take care of their oral health to ensure everything develops correctly.

The question is, why is pediatric dentistry so important, and when should you start? There are many points to consider, and we’ve created a guide to help answer these questions.

Why You Should Brush Your Baby’s Gums

Pediatric dentistry begins before a baby starts teething. Brushing your baby’s gums is a task that shouldn’t be overlooked. Bacteria can become trapped in the gum tissue, leading to a variety of problems for a small baby. On the minor end of the scale, this bacteria can cause bad breath for your baby. While not a serious concern, it’s something you want to avoid! 

Brushing their gums can also stop cavities from forming on any teeth that are starting to break through. A report from the CDC states that 20% of children have at least one untreated decayed tooth. It’s a serious problem for kids all over the country, and brushing their gums when they’re little will help prevent this by removing harmful bacteria. Also, this stops issues such as gum disease from forming, causing inflamed gums and bleeding. 

How to Brush Your Baby’s Gums and How Often

When your baby has no teeth at all, you can brush their gums with a soft cloth or a finger brush. Just wet the instrument and gently wipe it along the gum line to remove bacteria. It’s a good idea to do this at least twice a day, with one time being before bed. 

As their teeth start to come through, you can start using a soft toothbrush to brush the teeth and gums. It’s advisable to use a toothbrush that is made for babies as it is small enough for their mouth. You can use some toothpaste, but it’s recommended you use no more than the size of a grain of rice for a baby. This is because they don’t have the capacity to spit the toothpaste out, so there are health risks if they swallow a large amount of toothpaste. 

Try your best to angle their mouth so some of the toothpaste can dribble out when you’ve finished. It also helps to sing a little song while you do this as it settles them down and distracts them from what’s happening.

The ADA states that fluoride toothpaste is safe for young children and it’s recommended you use it as fluoride can prevent tooth decay. Just be sure you use a tiny amount as suggested previously. The same frequency applies here: twice a day, with one of the times being before bed. 

When to Start Pediatric Dentistry with Your Child

Both the ADA and AAP recommend that you take your child to the dentist when their first tooth starts to erupt. Typically, this comes in at around the 6-month mark. 

Why see a dentist at such an early age? Well, the initial appointments are more to check that everything is okay inside their mouth. It’s a chance for your dentist to look for any anomalies and see that their teeth are erupting correctly without complications. We can spot early warning signs of decay, as well as assess your child’s bite and gum health. If we discover any problems, we can devise ways to treat them and ensure your baby continues to develop as healthily as can be. 

The first appointments help children get use to seeing a dentist. If they’ve visited the dentist since they were 6 months old, they grow up with less to fear. They’re comfortable in the setting from a young age, ensuring they have a good relationship with the dentist. 

What Does a Pediatric Dentist Do?

As you may have guessed, pediatric dentists are specifically trained to help children with their oral health. They are capable of treating patients all the way throughout childhood. In addition to the standard four years of dental school training, a pediatrician undergoes two years of residency training in dentistry for infants and children. This ensures they have the knowledge and experience to treat patients of a young age, understanding all the common problems. 

A pediatric dentist can offer many different treatments, such as:

  • Oral health exams for children and infants
  • Preventative dentistry 
  • Assessment and treatment for braces or other orthodontics
  • Dental fillings or crowns for children
  • Tooth extractions

Pediatric dentists will check for common issues like tooth decay, unerupted teeth, bite problems, gum disease, and any other signs of poor oral health in kids. They also make the experience as comfortable as possible for children, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. 

In essence, they offer many of the same services as a standard dentist, but with a focus on children and infants. It’s not recommended that you take your child to a dentist that hasn’t had pediatric training!

Promote Good Oral Hygiene Early

The sooner you look after your child’s oral health, the easier it is to maintain good oral hygiene. Regular appointments with a pediatric dentist are essential as it helps check for problems and prevent issues from arising. Of course, it’s your job as a parent to promote good oral hygiene at home. This begins by brushing their teeth and gums when they’re babies, and teaching them how to brush as they get older. Also, you should avoid feeding your children foods high in sugar or acidity as they are most prone to causing tooth decay and gum disease. 

Visit A Pediatric Dentist in Lexington, SC

If you’re looking for a pediatric dentist in Lexington, SC, feel free to contact us today. Our team is well-equipped to see infant patients, ensuring your child gets the help they need from a young age. Give us a call or request an appointment via our website to schedule your initial consultation.

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.