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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.