Things to Know About Pediatric Dentistry
As a family dentist in the Spokane area, Spokane Dental offers top tier pediatric dental care. Since opening up in 2012, we’ve noticed a trend that pediatric dentistry gets overlooked by many. It’s not uncommon for us to see first time parents who think it’s not important to take their child to the dentist when their teeth are so ‘new’, or they only have a few. What could possibly go wrong with fresh baby teeth?
The reality is that pediatric dentistry is critical to not only a child’s oral health, but their overall health too. In fact, the odds of a child having cavities at their first dental appointment increases by a multiplicative factor of 2.1 for every year of increased age, as found by a recent study. To put that into perspective, this means if a child has their first dental visit at five years of age, they have about 20 times the odds of having cavities compared to that of a child who has their first dental visit at the age of one! (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, 2023). Let’s dive into some important things we think you should know about pediatric dentistry!
When Should a Child’s First Dental Appointment Be?
As recommended by both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, parents should take their child to their first dental appointment within their first year of life, or as soon as their first tooth comes through. We know, as we mentioned, many people hear this and believe it’s much too young, or that it’s too early for a trip to the dentist to actually make a difference, but the fact of the matter is that early dental visits help to reduce a child’s future dental risk, leading them to improved oral health, and in turn reduced oral health costs (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, 2023). After the first appointment, it is recommended to schedule additional visits every 3 to 6 months to not only keep an eye on the development and overall oral health, but to help the child become familiar and comfortable with the dentist.
What Does a Child’s First Dental Appointment Entail?
A child’s first trip to the dentist will often last somewhere between 30 to 45 minutes, and one of the most important aspects of the visit is the education and information parents receive from the dentist. Baby bottle tooth decay, infant feeding practices, mouth cleaning, teething, pacifier habits, and finger sucking habits are all important topics that have an impact on a child’s oral health are discussed during the first appointment.
What else is covered during the first appointment will vary depending on the age of the child, but we always do an examination to screen for potential developmental issues that could impact your child’s speech, diet, orofacial anatomy and overall health. This helps to reduce the risk of issues like premature tooth loss, tooth decay and abscessed teeth, alterations to developing young teeth, and dental emergencies. We also teach you how to properly care for your child’s teeth at home, how to keep them cavity free, warning signs to look out for, and of course, answer any questions or concerns you may have (Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, 2023).
How to Protect a Child’s Teeth at Home
It’s important to be very involved in your child’s oral health and dental care routine on a day-to-day basis to ensure they’re receiving proper care, and to instill good habits as they grow older. Here’s a list of some pediatric dental tips you may not know of!
- Before your child’s teeth even begin to come through, you should clean their gums with a clean, damp cloth.
- Avoid giving your child a bottle when being put down for bedtime or a nap in order to prevent baby bottle tooth decay.
- When your child’s first tooth comes through, use a small, soft bristled toothbrush to start brushing.
- For the first three years of age, use a small amount of toothpaste no larger than the size of a grain of rice.
- After the age of three, use a pea sized amount of toothpaste. This is around the age when a child is old enough to spit out the remaining toothpaste once the brushing is complete.
- Help your child with brushing their teeth until around the age of 7 or 8 to reduce missed spots and have them watch the way you brush so they can mimic the same brushing pattern.
Of course, the best way to become fully educated on pediatric dental care is to take your child to the dentist, ask questions, and take in the information given by your dentist (Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, 2023).
What are the Types of Dental Treatments Offered for Kids?
Protective Sealants: A sealant is a clear, smooth, plastic resin that is placed in the grooves and pits of the molars, making them easier to clean and help to block cavity causing germs. They can last several years, which is great for helping children through their cavity prone years!
Crown: When a baby tooth gets damaged, we are able to place a crown over it to help extend the length of time they stay in place, avoiding premature tooth loss.
Fillings: Small white fillings are used when a child has a cavity. The filling helps prevent the tooth decay from expanding deeper into the tooth, or even spreading to nearby teeth.
Extractions and Space Maintainers: There are times when a child’s tooth is severely decayed or simply non-restorable. This is when we would remove the tooth to halt the spread of infection and eradicate the pain. If that tooth that needs to be extracted is also still serving as a place holder for an adult tooth that is developing, we are able to place a space maintenance device to replace it.
Pediatric Dentistry in Spokane
At Spokane dental, our patients are our top priority and we are honored to be able to serve patients from infancy through adulthood, looking after their smile as they grow older. Don’t let your child’s oral health take a back seat, give us a call at 509-822-5614 or schedule an appointment today!