Pediatric Dentistry is a dental specialty that concentrates its attention on infants and children providing preventive and therapeutic oral health care. During the "growth" phase of a child, special approaches are needed to guide the dental growth and development in order to avoid future dental problems.

A common question that parents ask is “why spend on the maintenance of milk teeth when they are to be finally replaced by the permanent ones ?
       
Milk teeth are as important as the permanent ones because :
      
 
Baby teeth are important in proper feeding and nutrition.
Milk teeth serve as space maintainers for the proper spacing and alignment of the permanent teeth.
Healthy milk teeth are crucial in helping the baby learn how to speak properly.
Healthy looking teeth are important in building self-confidence at an early age. Small children because of immaturity are quick to tease peers about ugly looking or decayed teeth.        
       

Dental Guide for Children :

Child's first visit a dentist
Children should first start cleaning his/her teeth
Teething
Dental Problems
Prevention of tooth decay from nursing or a bottle
Bottle feeding be stopped
Good Diet = Healthy Teeth
Prevention of Cavities
Seal out Decay
Does your child grind his/her teeth at night ? (Bruxism)
Thumb Sucking
Best time of Orthodontic Treatment
Mouth Guards

 

Child's first visit a dentist

First visit by first birthday" sums it up.  Your child should visit a dentist when the first tooth comes in, usually between six and twelve months of age.  Early examination and preventive care will protect your child's smile now and in the future.


Children should first start cleaning his/her teeth

This is a good habit to start early!  The teeth must be cleaned as they erupt.  Use a damp wash cloth or a toothbrush.  If your health care provider agrees, use a tiny dab of fluoride toothpaste.  Tooth brushing is definitely a parent’s job in the preschool years. 

Children are usually able to brush their teeth well when they are 8 years old.  Be sure to check your child's teeth regularly for any chalky white or brown spots, which could be the beginning of tooth decay.


Teething

Sore gums from teething often occur for a few days at a time between six months to age three.  Babies often get relief from a clean teething ring, cool spoon, cold wet washcloth or toothbrush.  Chilled teething rings or rubbing a clean finger on the sore gum area often helps.


Dental Problems

Dental problems can begin early.  A big concern is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (BBTD), which is preventable.  BBTD can result from long periods of exposing baby teeth to liquids that contain sugar including formula, milk, breast milk, and juice.  A baby who has a habit of sleeping with a baby bottle filled with any sugary liquid or a breast in their mouth is at risk of getting BBTD.

Frequent snacking on sweet or sticky foods can also cause decay.  The earlier the first dental visit, the better chance of preventing dental problems. Children with healthy teeth can chew food well, speak clearly and share precious smiles.  Start your child on a lifetime of good dental of good dental habits now.


Prevention of tooth decay from nursing or a bottle

Taking your baby off of the breast when he/she falls asleep can prevent baby tooth decay.  Hold your baby while bottle-feeding.  Always take a bottle filled with milk or juice away from the sleeping child.  If your child requires a bottle at bedtime provide a bottle filled with water.  Instead of a bottle try comforting your child with a pacifier or a favorite toy or blanket. 

Check with your health care provider to make sure your child is getting the right amount of fluoride.  Brush your baby's teeth with a soft toothbrush daily.


Bottle feeding be stopped

Begin teaching your baby to use a cup by seven months.  It's a good idea to introduce juice in a cup.  Your baby can be off the bottle by 12 months.


Good Diet = Healthy Teeth

Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth. Like the rest of the body, the teeth, bones and the soft tissues of the mouth need a well-balanced diet.Children should eat a variety of foods from the five major food groups. Most snacks that children eat can lead to cavity formation.

The more frequently a child snacks, the greater the chance for tooth decay. How long food remains in the mouth also plays a role. For example, hard candy and breath mints stay in the mouth a long time, which cause longer acid attacks on tooth enamel. If your child must snack, choose nutritious foods such as which are healthier and better for children’s teeth.


Prevention of Cavities
Good oral hygiene removes bacteria and the left over food particles that combine to create cavities. For infants, use a wet gauze or clean washcloth to wipe the plaque from teeth and gums. Avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle filled with anything other than water. For older children, brush their teeth at least twice a day. Also, watch the number of snacks containing sugar that you give your children.
The Indian Dental Association recommends six-month visit to the dentist beginning at your child’s first birthday. Routine visits will start your child on a lifetime of good dental health.
Your dentist may also recommend protective sealants or home fluoride treatments for your child. Sealants can be applied to your child’s molars to prevent decay on hard to clean surfaces.

Seal out Decay

Sealant is a clear or shaded plastic material that is applied to the chewing surfaces (grooves) of the back teeth (premolars and molars), where four out of five cavities in children are found. This sealant acts as a barrier to food, plaque and acid, thus protecting the decay-prone areas of the teeth.

Fluoride application:

A child’s teeth are more prone to decay due to lack of proper dexterity of brushing. Application of fluoride varnishes at regular intervals strengthens the tooth structure by incorporating fluoride ions into the structure making them more prone to acid dissolution. Not only do the permanent but also milk teeth benefit from fluoride treatment


Does your child grind his/her teeth at night ? (Bruxism)

Parents are often concerned about the nocturnal grinding of teeth (bruxism). Often, the first indication is the noise created by the child grinding on their teeth during sleep. Or, the parent may notice wear (teeth getting shorter) to the dentition. One theory as to the cause involves a psychological component. Stress due to a new environment, divorce, changes at school; etc. can influence a child to grind their teeth. Another theory relates to pressure in the inner ear at night. If there are pressure changes (like in an airplane during take-off and landing when people are chewing gum, etc. to equalize pressure) the child will grind by moving his jaw to relieve this pressure.

The majority of cases of pediatric bruxism do not require any treatment. If excessive wear of the teeth (attrition) is present, then a mouth guard (night guard) may be indicated. The negatives to a mouth guard are the possibility of choking if the appliance becomes dislodged during sleep and it may interfere with growth of the jaws. The positive is obvious by preventing wear to the primary dentition.

The good news is most children outgrow bruxism. The grinding gets less between the ages 6-9 and children tend to stop grinding between ages 9-12. If you suspect bruxism, discuss this with your pediatrician or dentist.

 

Thumb Sucking

Sucking is a natural reflex and infants and young children may use thumbs, fingers, pacifiers and other objects on which to suck. It may make them feel secure and happy or provide a sense of security at difficult periods. Since thumb sucking is relaxing, it may induce sleep.

Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of the permanent teeth can cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and tooth alignment. How intensely a child sucks on fingers or thumbs will determine whether or not dental problems may result. Children who rest their thumbs passively in their mouths are less likely to have difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs.

Children should cease thumb sucking by the time their permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Usually, children stop between the ages of two and four. Peer pressure causes many school-aged children to stop.  

Pacifiers are no substitute for thumb sucking. They can affect the teeth essentially the same way as sucking fingers and thumbs. However, use of the pacifier can be controlled and modified more easily than the thumb or finger habit. If you have concerns about thumb sucking or use of a pacifier, consult your dentist.

Best time of Orthodontic Treatment
Developing malocclusions, or bad bites, can be recognized as early as 2-3 years of age. Often, early steps can be taken to reduce the need for major orthodontic treatment at a later age.

Stage I – Early Treatment: This period of treatment encompasses ages 2 to 6 years. At this young age, we are concerned with underdeveloped dental arches, the premature loss of primary teeth, and harmful habits such as finger or thumb sucking. Treatment initiated in this stage of development is often very successful and many times, though not always, can eliminate the need for future orthodontic/orthopedic treatment.

Stage II – Mixed Dentition: This period covers the ages of 6 to 12 years, with the eruption of the permanent incisor (front) teeth and 6-year molars. Treatment concerns deal with jaw malrelationships and dental realignment problems. This is an excellent stage to start treatment, when indicated, as your child’s hard and soft tissues are usually very responsive to orthodontic or orthopedic forces.

Stage III – Adolescent Dentition: This stage deals with the permanent teeth and the development of the final bite relationship.

Space Maintainers
A space maintainer is a removable or fixed appliance designed to maintain an existing space.
Space maintainers are usually fitted in children when they have lost baby teeth early. The gap left from losing this tooth needs to be held open for the permanent tooth to erupt in the correct position.

Mouth Guards
When a child begins to participate in recreational activities and organized sports, injuries can occur. A properly fitted mouth guard, or mouth protector, is an important piece of athletic gears that can help protect your child’s smile, and should be used during any activity that could result in a blow to the face or mouth.
Mouth guards help prevent broken teeth, and injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw. A properly fitted mouth guard will stay in place while your child is wearing it, making it easy for them to talk and breathe.