Pediatric Dentistry – The Branch of Dentistry That Focuses on Oral Health of Kids

Pediatric dentistry is the branch of dentistry that focuses on the oral health of children. These dentists have additional years of specialized training after dental school and understand the unique needs of kids.

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They can help teach kids and their parents about proper oral hygiene, preventing tooth decay and other issues that can lead to long-term problems. This also includes helping children break bad habits like thumb sucking and teeth grinding.

Dental x-rays

X-rays are invisible beams of radiation that produce images of teeth and jaw bones on film or digital sensors. Denser structures such as bones and teeth absorb more X-ray energy and appear lighter on the resulting image; soft tissues such as gums and cheeks absorb less X-ray energy and appear darker. By analyzing the X-rays, dentists can detect hidden abnormalities such as tooth decay and bone loss. They can also determine the stage of tooth development and whether there are extra or missing teeth. X-rays can also show impacted (blocked) teeth, which may need to be removed during treatment.

Pediatric patients need X-rays more frequently than adults, as their teeth and jaws are still developing. A full set of X-rays is usually required before beginning treatment for cavities, or to diagnose and track the progress of dental diseases such as gum disease.

X-rays emit very low levels of radiation and are considered safe for both children and adults. The amount of radiation received during a X-ray exam is comparable to the amount of background radiation we are exposed to daily from sunlight, soil, buildings and air. If you have any concerns, please discuss them with your doctor. A pediatric dental specialist will be happy to address them.

Fillings

A child may need a filling when they have a cavity, or hole in the tooth. Tooth decay is caused by bacteria and left over food particles. The pediatric dentist can use a composite filling, also known as a tooth colored filling, to treat cavities and prevent them from getting worse.

The procedure involves numbing your child so they don’t feel the pain and discomfort. After the cavity is drilled out, the pediatric dentist will place the filling material into the hole. The filling will be matched to the tooth, so your child won’t even notice it.

Pediatric dentists will do everything they can to save baby teeth, even if it means a dental filling or pulpotomy. Tooth loss can cause other teeth to shift or bite incorrectly, causing problems with the smile and future oral health.

To avoid tooth decay, be sure to teach your children proper oral hygiene and schedule regular visits to the pediatric dentist. They can help you understand your child’s unique dental needs and address any concerns you have. In addition, make sure your child stops thumb sucking or using a pacifier by age 5 to allow their permanent teeth to grow in properly. This will ensure a healthy smile and prevent jaw malrelationship problems down the road. Also, limit sugary snacks and drinks to prevent tooth decay and cavities.

Sealants

Dental sealants are plastic resins that bond and harden in the deep grooves on the chewing surfaces of permanent back teeth (molars and premolars). When a tooth is sealed, the tiny grooves become smooth and are less likely to harbor plaque. With sealants, brushing becomes easier and more effective against tooth decay.

The procedure is quick, painless and inexpensive. Typically, children’s teeth should be sealed as soon as the first permanent molars and premolars come in, but it is also an option for older children whose back teeth have deep grooves. Tooth decay is more prevalent among these patients, so sealing can prevent cavities and help them maintain their healthy smiles.

Sealants last for many years, but they need to be reapplied periodically, usually after a few years. A dental checkup is a good time to inspect the condition of your child’s sealants and see if they need to be reapplied.

Pediatric dentists are specially trained to diagnose and treat oral problems in children. By educating children on proper dental hygiene, they can help them avoid future dental problems and build a positive attitude towards dentistry and oral health. They also monitor growth and development, identifying and intervening in any issues that may arise, such as baby teeth that fall out too early or “pacifier teeth.” In addition, they advise parents on nutrition, injury prevention, good habits, and other aspects of children’s oral health.

Orthodontics

Orthodontics is the treatment of malocclusions or crooked teeth. It is estimated that around 50%-70% of kids require orthodontics to straighten their teeth. The best time to get this treatment is in childhood when the jaw bones are still growing. It is also easier for the kids to tolerate the pain of braces. Pediatric dentists are specially trained to use behavior guidance techniques to treat children in a comfortable manner. They make the child feel relaxed and build trust which helps them cooperate better during dental procedures.

Oral health is important for kids as it impacts their general well being. Regular brushing and flossing eliminate excess bacteria from the mouth, which in turn prevents disease in other parts of the body. Pediatric dentists provide education to parents and children about proper oral health and encourage kids to develop good habits at an early age.

Pediatric dentists need a bachelor’s degree in dental science to become qualified for their career. They spend an additional two to three years in training to learn about the primary dentition, mixed dentition (kids with baby teeth and adult teeth), child development, behavior management, pharmacology, special needs patients, and pediatric sedation. Moreover, they are more familiar with the unique dental problems of children and are skilled in preventing them. They are also experts in treating children’s tooth decay, infections, injuries, and emergencies.