Answers to 3 Important Questions You Need to Ask About Pediatric Dentistry

Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Answers to 3 Important Questions You Need to Ask About Pediatric Dentistry

When? Why? Where? Sometimes all the questions can be overwhelming, but they don’t have to be! Find a trusted source for your pediatric dental questions at Penn Dental Family Practice.

As parents, you may sometimes question the efficiency of your methods and wisdom of your decisions. It seems that you can find two or three opposing opinions for every one topic. And sometimes the many voices telling you what to do quickly become overwhelming.

At Penn Dental Family Practice> our goal is to help you through at least a few of these confusing issues. When should I take my child in to see a dentist? Why do I need to take my child in to the dentist if they only have baby teeth? Is pediatric dentistry really necessary or will a general dentist do the trick?

These are all great questions to ask. Penn Dental Family Practice is here to simplify things for you. Your questions answered:

When should I bring my child in for their first dental appointment?

As with most things, this topic has varying opinions. Some say as soon as possible, to develop a sense of comfort with the dentist.

While there are advantages to early dentistry appointments, Penn Dental Family Practice believes that waiting until your child is approximately 3 years old provides a firm emotional basis for handling a different environment and new experience. Some children that visit the dentist at a very early age can be overwhelmed easily, which can lead to fear. One fearful experience can cause years of anxiety in relation to the dentist.

As long as you are intentionally involved in training and implementing oral care at home, your child’s first pediatric dentistry appointment can wait until 3 years old.

However, don’t wait much longer than this age mark. At this point, most of your child’s baby teeth will be in place and the importance of proper care, nutrition, and cleaning must be emphasized and heeded.

Why do I need to take my child into the pediatric dentist if they only have primary teeth?

You may ask, “But they’re baby teeth…they’re going to fall out anyways. Isn’t it a waste of money to do much at this point?”

You couldn’t be further from the truth. Primary (baby) teeth hold the space for the future eruption of permanent teeth. If a primary tooth is lost from tooth decay or early removal, other teeth will move into the space. This can cause misalignment and the need for future orthodontic intervention.

Infected primary teeth that remain in the mouth can cause damage to permanent teeth as they develop, causing enamel defects and a lifetime of weak teeth.

And before you think that your child will inevitably escape the presence of tooth decay, take a look at this statistic. The CDC reports in a survey that “approximately 37% of children aged 2–8 years had experienced dental caries in primary teeth”. Of course our goal is that you are armed with proper information and tools to ensure excellent oral health for your child.

At Penn Dental Family Practice we don’t just “put a bandaid on” the problem then send you on your way until it happens again.

Our pediatric dentists will take the time to discuss your child’s current habits and lifestyle, in hopes of determining what may have caused the caries or decay in the first place. You will leave with a plan of action and renewed hope.

Is Pediatric Dentistry Really Necessary?

The dentist down the street seems convenient and certainly there can’t be too much difference between general dentistry and pediatric dentistry. Why go to all the trouble of finding a pediatric dentist?

Because your child deserves the best. And pediatric dentists are the ones that can provide that to you and your precious little one.

Pediatric dentists go through two to three extra years of training following dental school. This training is focused on specific oral issues that only children encounter as well as the psychology of addressing and caring for children in each stage of development. A pediatric dentist is an expert at connecting with your child, providing an atmosphere of ease and camaraderie. Tantrums, special needs, or heightened fear issues are all common obstacles that they have been trained to handle effortlessly.

My Child Isn’t 3 Yet, What Can I Do in the Meantime?

You know your child best. Perform a periodic check on your child’s teeth yourself and carefully assess if you feel that a pediatric dentistry visit may be necessary. Look for plaque build-up around the gums, white or brown spots on the teeth, or tooth discoloration (grayish hue).

If your child is younger than the suggested age for the first visit, but you still sense that a visit may be beneficial, then bring him in.

But if your child’s oral health appears to be in good condition and you simply want to ensure continued care until the first visit, here are a few tips to follow at home:

  • Don’t allow your infant or young child to fall asleep with a bottle. The sugars found in formula and breast milk sit on the gums in greater quantity because of a decrease in salivary flow during sleep. This aids in greater bacteria reproduction, which can eventually lead to tooth decay.
  • Brush gums with a soft cloth every day. With the eruption of the first tooth, use a soft-bristled infant toothbrush and a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to gently clean the tooth and gums twice daily.
  • For ages 2-3, begin to teach good oral hygiene practices by showing them how to do it, allowing them to do it, and then reviewing concepts as you finish brushing for them.
  • From 3-6 years of age, most children will be able to brush on their own with parental supervision, but make sure that it’s done at least twice daily.
  • Floss regularly. According to Oral B (a trusted name in dental care products), flossing can begin when your child’s teeth fit closely together, usually around 2-6 years of age.
  • Provide a balanced diet for your child, eliminating sugary drinks and snacks.