As a parent, judging your child's dental needs may get confusing at times. For some of you, keeping your child's teeth free of cavities may seem challenging. This is how dentistry for children may help:
Why is visiting the dentist important
Your child's first visit to the dentist is extremely crucial. And there are several ways in which visiting the dentist can help your child:
● The child gets used to visiting the dentist and will have less fear about dental treatment as they grow older
● The dentist can help in identifying potential problems and treat them at the earliest
● Reduced risk of dental caries
● Malalignment of teeth due to jaw discrepancies can also be detected at an early stage and treated accordingly
● Can increase the child's awareness towards oral hygiene
Visiting a specialist or a pediatric dentist is preferred as they are trained in handling any issues that may arise in your kid's dental health.
Your child's first visit to the dentist
The American Dental Association recommends a child's first dental visit to be by their first birthday. Ideally, you can bring your child to the dentist right after their first tooth erupts.
What are the potential dental problems in kids
Children, including newborns, are equally prone to dental problems as adults, if not more. Some commonly seen issues that are seen are:
● Dental caries or tooth decay
Food debris and bacteria stuck on the teeth after eating can produce acids which dissolve the top layer of the tooth and cause cavities. Newborn babies are prone to something known as 'baby bottle decay' which develops when babies are put to sleep with the feeding bottles in their mouth.
● Trauma to the teeth
Children are more likely to get hurt as their motor coordination takes time to develop. Certain injuries like a fall may cause damage to the teeth. It may either fracture the teeth or cause the tooth to fall out (avulsion).
Any discrepancies in the jaw sizes or delay in tooth eruption or untimely loss of milk teeth may lead to complications in the alignment of permanent teeth.
● Gum diseases
Although less common compared to adults, children may also develop gum diseases. This may be due to poor oral hygiene or any genetic predisposition.
For removal of hard deposits and food debris from the teeth
For correction of teeth alignment. Usually carried out with metal/ceramic braces or clear aligners
Habit breaking appliances/Myofunctional appliances
Involves correction/prevention of any disturbances in the skeletal growth and muscle forms with removable appliances. They help in molding the jaw bones and facial muscles in the child's growing stage
Pulpotomy or Pulpectomy
For treatment of extensively damaged milk teeth, in which the pulp tissue of the tooth is damaged. Similar to a root canal treatment done in adults. It is usually followed by the placement of a stainless steel cap or strip crowns
To treat dental caries. Cavities are filled with a dental cement like glass ionomer cement or composite resin
Prevention of dental caries. Halts demineralization of tooth enamel and strengthens it
Prevention of dental caries. Done on permanent teeth
How can you take care of your child's teeth at home
Good oral hygiene begins at an early age. Taking care of your child's teeth must begin even before they start teething. Here are a few recommendations to keep your young one's pearly whites healthy:
● For newborns use a damp washcloth or gauze piece to clean the gum pads
● Use an infant toothbrush to clean your baby's teeth. Use a fluoridated toothpaste in the size of a rice grain for brushing
● For kids aged 3 and above, use a pea sized amount of toothpaste. Your child should learn to spit while brushing around the age of 2
● Make your child rinse their mouth after each meal
● Schedule visits to the dentist once in 3 months or as per your dentist's recommendation
Remember to inculcate good oral hygiene habits in your kids right from an early age. Following the above mentioned instructions along with the help of your dentist can help your child's teeth be problem-free.