It is easy to think of temporary aspects of our lives as not very important. It’s not important what you eat for dinner. It’s not going to be important overall if you make a B in a particular college course. The intuition is that you do not need to worry much about temporary things.
That is a common sentiment among parents wondering about their children’s baby teeth. They are going to fall out so why should we, as parents, put much time or financial worry into them? Are baby teeth really that important?
The idea makes total sense even if it is mistaken. Baby teeth, or primary teeth, are very important for the dental health of children and the adolescents and adults they are set to become. So let’s talk about why pediatric dentistry is something that parents should seriously consider and why Devaney Dentistry at Oak Ridge is an excellent option for your children’s dental care.
What is Pediatric Dentistry?
Pediatric dentistry is dental care that focuses on children and their primary teeth and surrounding structures (gums, jaws, etc).
In many ways, pediatric dentistry follows many of the same procedures that you are familiar with as an adult who goes for regular checkups. Beyond what is entailed by regular cleaning and checkups, there are some considerations that are important factors for children specifically.
Teeth begin to break through the gums of children when they are about 6 months old. This is preceded by what people call the “teething” stage. As teeth start to erupt, they can cause the child to want to bite objects, drool, can develop redness in the gums, among other things. Usually teething goes smoothly and teeth start to show up.
Children under the age of 5 are at risk for what is called early childhood caries (ECC) which is characterized by missing, damaged, and decayed teeth (and gums). ECC is one of the most common childhood diseases and it is almost completely preventable. The risk factors are a mix of things such as cleaning habits, microbial health, and lack of dental care. You have also probably heard that children get lots of cavities. Cavities are a high risk in children due to genetics and dietary choices. Kids are drawn to sweets (candies, sodas, etc.) which can exacerbate the risk of cavities. And if you are wondering: how can I prevent cavities in my child’s teeth? On the front end, monitoring your children’s food intake is an easy way to make sure they are not eating too many foods prone to create cavities. On the back end, brushing their teeth is crucial to developing good habits.
Beyond these issues, having a dentist look over your child’s teeth is important for monitoring the growth of teeth that can later affect how the secondary teeth will erupt. And, since these teeth are your forever teeth, this can be incredibly important.
What is the Logistics of Pediatric Dentistry
So now you know that pediatric dentistry is important. What now? When do I start? When should my child have their first dental visit?
The best rule of thumb is to have a child’s first dental important by their first birthday. By this time, they will have at least some teeth. You may need to visit a dentist sooner if you suspect something is wrong with the teething stage.
How can I help my child feel comfortable during a dental visit? Stay with them! Children may be reluctant to have strangers near them and especially near their mouth, so if you are around the anxiety of the child is likely to lessen. Being present is a good rule for pediatric teeth health in general. You are going to need to brush your children’s teeth until they can. When they can brush their teeth without your help, you will still need to model the behavior and make sure they are doing it twice a day.
Now that your child has had their first visit, you might be wondering: How often should my child have a dental check-up? As often as you go! The recommendation of a dentist visit every 6 months is true of children too. If there are issues or something that the dentist wants to monitor, an appointment every 3 months may be a temporary plan. The general rule though is a visit every 6 months.
Finding a Dentist that Has Worked with Children
Here is the last bit of advice: You should also find a dentist that regularly cleans the teeth of children. Knowing how to clean adult teeth and children’s teeth is different when considering how the two populations may react differently. Devaney Dentistry at Oak Ridge is a family dental office and we know the tips and tricks to keep you and your child happy and healthy!
Just as we offer solutions for adults who have anxieties about dental work, we offer an inclusive and safe space for children who might have similar anxieties. At Devaney Dentistry Oak Ridge, we are passionate about treating the entire family and developing plans specific to your child’s needs.