Pediatric dentistry is the branch of dentistry which specializes in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of teeth in children who are under the age of 16. In this age bracket we concentrate mostly on prevention, which includes instruction in proper diet, use of fluoride if necessary, and practice of good oral hygiene.
Treatment deals basically with caries (tooth decay) but includes influencing tooth alignment. Lengthy treatment may be required to correct incipient abnormalities in tooth position. Braces or other correctional devices may be used.
Negligence in oral health care in children leads to tooth decay which results in decreased school performance and social relationships. Hence Oral care should begin soon after the child’s birth as there is nothing more beautiful than a child’s smile. This beautiful smile needs a proper care and attention.
When should I take my child to the dentist?
It is recommended that children should go to the dentist with their parents possibly as soon as baby teeth appear. This will let them get used to the dental clinic environment and prepare them for future visits. The earlier these visits start, the more relaxed the children will be.
When will my child's teeth appear?
First (or ‘baby’ or ‘milk’) teeth usually start to appear when your child is around 6 months old. Some kids will get their teeth earlier than others. Girls tend to get their teeth earlier than boys. All twenty baby teeth should appear latest by the age of three years.
The first permanent ‘adult’ molars (back teeth) will appear at about 6 years, before the first baby teeth start to fall out at about 6 to 7. It is usually the lower front teeth that are lost first, followed by the upper front teeth shortly after. All the milk teeth should have been replaced by the permanent teeth latest by the age of 14 years.
How should I clean my child's teeth?
Cleaning your child’s teeth should be part of their daily hygiene routine. You may find it easier to stand or sit behind your child, cradling their chin in your hand so you can reach their top and bottom teeth more easily.
When the first teeth start to appear you may use a clean cloth or try using a toothbrush designed for children, with a small smear of toothpaste designed for kids. It is important to supervise your child’s brushing until they are at least seven. It’s recommended to brush at least three times a day.
Night brushing is critical Once all the teeth have appeared, use a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles in small, circular movements and try to concentrate on one section at a time.
Don’t forget to brush gently behind the teeth and onto the gums. Remember to encourage your child, as praise will often get results!
Should I use fluoride toothpaste?
This is a big question here in Kenya since most of the areas have high fluoride levels especially in parts of the Rift Valley. Your children’s teeth can get fluoride in a number of different ways, including from toothpaste, specific fluoride applications and perhaps the drinking water in your area.
These can all help to prevent tooth decay. If you are unsure about how much fluoride levels you have in your area, kindly check with your local dental team. You should make sure that they do not swallow any toothpaste while they are brushing.
What sort of brush should children use?
There are many different types of children’s toothbrushes in the market .Most supermarkets have a wide range to choose from.
What could cause my child to have toothache?
Toothache is painful and upsetting, especially in children, and the main cause is tooth decay. This is due to too much sugar, too often, in the diet. Analgesics from the pharmacy would come in handy as you organize to get the child checked by the dentist.
Teething is another problem. It starts at around 6 months, and it can continue when the adult teeth start to appear. There are teething rings that can be bought from the supermarket to help massage the gums and dental gels to help ease the pain.
How can I prevent tooth decay in my child?
The main cause of tooth decay is not the amount of sugar or acid in the diet, but how often it is eaten or drunk. The more often your child has sugary or acidic foods or drinks, the more likely they are to have decay. So it is important to have sugary and acidic foods just at mealtimes. If you want to give your child a snack, try vegetables and fruits. Limit how much dried fruit you give as it is high in sugar and can stick to the teeth.
Don’t give them drinks containing sugars, including fruit juices, between meals. Give them water or milk instead. For babies, don’t add sugar to their drinks, or to foods when you introduce them to solids.
It is also worth remembering that some processed baby foods contain quite a lot of sugar. Try checking the list of ingredients: the higher up the list sugar is, the more there is in the product. Generally anything ending in ‘ose’ is a sugar, for example: fructose, glucose, lactose or sucrose. Thorough brushing is key.
How can I prevent tooth decay in my child?
Children can sense fear in their parents, so it is important not to let your child feel that a visit to the dental team is something to be worried about. Try to be supportive if your child needs to have any dental treatment.
If you have any fears of your own about going to the dentist, don’t let your child hear you talk about them. It is very important for the parents to be in total control.
Regular visits to the dental team are essential in helping your child get used to the surroundings and what happens there. A child can be much more anxious if it is their first visit to a dental practice. Pain and distress can happen at any time and it is important to prepare your child with regular visits.
Why it happens
Kids suck their thumbs because it’s comforting and calming. Your preschooler probably practiced this habit while he/she was still in the womb and perfected it as an infant.
Now the kid turns to thumb sucking when tired, stressed, scared, bored, sick, or trying to adjust to challenges such as starting daycare or preschool. Also the kid uses it to lull him/her to sleep since it is soothing.
What to do about thumb-sucking
Don’t worry too much since most children can safely suck their thumb without damaging the alignment of their teeth or jaws – until their permanent teeth begin to appear.
(Permanent teeth don’t usually start to erupt until around age 6.) .It is important though to get the dentist’s advice if this habit continues after four years. The dentist then decides whether it will be necessary to intervene by introducing a habit breaker to discourage the habit.
This section will not be complete without making a quick mention of braces. The key point to highlight is that teeth alignment can start as early as the problem is identified. This is the current trend; it used to be advised that correction of misaligned teeth waits till after 12 years of age. This thinking has shifted. For further reading go to Dental Braces under services tab
A dental sealant is a kind of protective coating, which is made up of tinted or transparent plastic. It is painted onto the chewing areas of the back teeth (both premolars and molars), where the possibility of cavity formation is more in comparison to other regions of the teeth.
Premolars and molars have pits and fissures in them, where the food particles normally get stuck. Some of the fissures present on the surface are so deep that the bristles of the toothbrush are unable to reach them. These holes and gaps on the surface of the teeth provide an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive and generate cavities. The function of these dental sealants is to prevent the happening of the same. The dentists put a thin cover of dental sealant over these pits and fissures and food cannot accumulate in them.
The major application of sealants is on children’s teeth to prevent cavities at an early age. They are not only effective in function but are affordable as well. They cost well less than the amount spent on filling the cavities. It is advised by quite a few dentists that sealants should be applied on each molar teeth as soon as possible. It is important that while going for the application of sealants, the concerned tooth must be kept dry and free of saliva. If your child is facing a high threat of cavities, then it is best to seal pre-molars with sealants, along with molars.
This kind of process of sealing the teeth is not advisable for baby teeth. It is common with children although adults do get them as well. In adults it is confined to cases, where there is high risk of dental problems.
The application of sealants is not a complex process. It consists of a simple, quick and painless procedure. In this case, no preparation is required to be done in advance and can be concluded during a normal dental visit. There is no shots involved in the whole process either and that is the reason why children are not reluctant to go for a dental sealing procedure when compared to other dental treatments.
Before the application of sealant, the dentist cleans the affected area to remove particles of food, if there is any. It is important that there should not be any kind of wetness on the surface of teeth, so that it can properly stick to the surface of teeth. It is applied in liquid form, so that it can easily cover all pits and fissures. The sealant normally sets in its place within the time period of 20 to 60 seconds. If it does not set within that period of time, then it is set with the help of a special light.
Studies reveal that they are capable of lasting for a long time; sometimes they stay even for a fortnight. But as they are made of plastic, they are not durable for a very long period of time. If your child is going for it, then it is important to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. It is vital to get the right amount of fluoride during the treatment period and frequent visit to the dentist’s place is also important.