What is a Pediatric Dentist?
Pediatric dentists are dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through the teen years. They have the experience and qualifications to care for a child’s teeth, gums, and mouth throughout the various stages of childhood.
Children begin to get their baby teeth during the first 6 months of life. By age 6 or 7 years, they start to lose their first set of teeth, which eventually are replaced by secondary, permanent teeth.
Without proper dental care, children face possible oral decay and disease that can cause a lifetime of pain and complications. Early childhood dental caries—an infectious disease—is 5 times more common in children than asthma and 7 times more common than hay fever. About 1 of 5 (20%) children aged 5 to 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
What types of treatments do pediatric dentists provide?
Pediatric dentists provide comprehensive oral health care that includes the following:
- Infant oral health exams, which include risk assessment for caries in mother and child
- Preventive dental care including cleaning and fluoride treatments, as well as nutrition and diet recommendations
- Habit counseling (for example, pacifier use and thumb sucking)
- Early assessment and treatment for straightening teeth and correcting an improper bite (orthodontics)
- Repair of tooth cavities or defects
- Diagnosis of oral conditions associated with diseases such as diabetes, congenital heart defect, asthma, hay fever and attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Management of gum diseases and conditions including ulcers, short frenulae, mucoceles and pediatric periodontal disease
Care for dental injuries (for example, fractured, displaced or knocked-out teeth)
Who can get tooth decay?
Everyone, even babies, can get tooth decay. Some things put children are at more risk, such as living in poverty, being in an ethnic or racial minority group, or having special health care needs. There are other reasons a child could be high risk.
The child’s mother or main caregiver had tooth decay in the past 12 months or does not have a regular source of dental care.
There are white spots on the child’s teeth. These spots are a sign that the tooth is losing calcium and minerals that keep it strong.
There are tan, brown or black spots or you see holes (pits) on the teeth. This is a sign that the tooth is decaying.