What is a Pediatric Dentist?

Children are not just small adults. They are not always able to be patient and cooperative during a dental exam. Pediatric dentists know how to examine and treat children in ways that make them comfortable. In addition, pediatric dentists use specially designed equipment in offices that are arranged and decorated with children in mind.

A pediatric dentist offers a wide range of treatment options, as well as expertise and training to care for your child’s teeth, gums, and mouth. When your pediatrician suggests that your child receive a dental exam, you can be assured that a pediatric dentist will provide the best possible care.

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Pediatric Dental Services

Thumb, Finger, and Pacifier Habits

Babies begin to suck on their fingers or thumbs even before they are born for security. Sucking is completely normal for babies and young children, as it is a way for them to make contact with and learn about the world.

No harm is done to your child’s teeth or jaws by sucking, however, some children repeatedly suck on an object over extended periods of time. In that case, the upper front teeth may tip toward the lip or not grow in properly. Most children stop sucking on thumbs, pacifiers or other objects on their own between the age of two and four.

There is no reason to worry about a sucking habit until the permanent front teeth are ready to come in (This is typically around age 6-7) . Your dentist will carefully monitor the way your child’s teeth grow in and jaws develop, keeping the sucking habit in mind at all times.

We can encourage your child to stop their sucking habits by talking about what happens to the teeth if they do not stop. Some children need the help of their parents and their dentist, although most children stop their sucking habits on their own. If the advice from the dentist and parents does not work, your dentist may recommend a mouth appliance that blocks sucking habits.

Enamel Fluorosis

Dental fluorosis is a developmental disturbance of dental enamel caused by excessive exposure to high concentrations of fluoride during tooth development. The risk of fluoride overexposure occurs between the ages of 3 months and 8 years. In its mild forms (which are its most common), fluorosis often appears as unnoticeable, tiny white streaks or specks in the enamel of the tooth. In its most severe form, tooth appearance is marred by discoloration or brown markings. The enamel may be pitted, rough and hard to clean. The spots and stains left by fluorosis are permanent and may darken over time.

Preventive Dentistry

Preventive dentistry is the general term for dental care-related procedures or treatments that are meant to prevent oral health problems from rearing their ugly heads. A great example of a preventive dentistry procedure is sealants. A sealant is a layer of a protective, long-lasting special plastic. Your dentist can quickly and easily place this layer on your back teeth to prevent decay. These teeth are the ones that are most likely to decay, which is why they are targeted.

Dental X-Ray Use

Because many diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues cannot be seen when your dentist examines your mouth, an X-ray examination can help reveal:

small areas of decay between the teeth or below existing restorations (fillings);
infections in the bone;
periodontal (gum) disease;
abscesses or cysts;
developmental abnormalities;
some types of tumors.

Finding and treating dental problems at an early stage can save time, money and unnecessary discomfort. Radiographs can help your dentist detect problems in your mouth that otherwise would not be seen.

Regular Dental Visits

We all know that it’s important to brush, floss, and eat a balanced diet. But perhaps it’s been awhile since you last saw your dentist. Did you know that regular dental visits can help spot oral health problems early on when treatment is likely to be simpler and more affordable? Plus oral health is an important part of overall health. Regular
check-ups are important because some diseases or medical conditions have symptoms that can appear in the mouth.
Recent research suggests there may be an association between gum disease and serious health conditions such as heart
disease, stroke and diabetes.

Space Maintenance

If a baby tooth is lost prematurely, you may need a space maintainer to “save” the space. What does that mean? Baby teeth are there for a reason. One key reason is that they save space for the permanent tooth, which will erupt into its position when the baby tooth is lost normally.

If a primary tooth (baby or milk tooth), has to be removed early due to say, an abscess, or is knocked out in some kind of trauma, a space maintainer may be recommended to save the space. If the space is not preserved, the other teeth may drift causing difficult to treat crowding and orthodontic problems. If it is a front tooth then you don’t need a space maintainer. However, you can place a Pediatric Partial to replace the teeth for cosmetic reasons.

Now “Spacers” may be in there for a while, but they are not permanent. They are removed when the new tooth (usually a bicuspid) erupts or the abutment teeth get loose