Benefits of a Children’s Dentist
Teeth are important to a child’s early development. They help your child chew and speak properly and save space for the adult teeth to come. By age three, when most children have a full set of primary teeth, they are also developing self-image and self-esteem. By beginning dental care at an early age, you are setting your child up for a lifetime of better oral hygiene habits and helping them get comfortable with the process of going to the dentist. First-time parents and new caregivers also benefit from bringing their children to pediatric dentists, who advise you on how to help take care of your child’s teeth in between visits, including the correct ways to brush and floss.
Why should children see a children’s dentist?
Since children have changing dentistry needs as they grow, they require specialized dental care. In addition to offering all the same services as other dentists, a children’s dentist receives an additional 2-3 years of training after dental school in order to focus specifically on these pediatric dental needs, including different methods of child behavior guidance approaches so we can help your child feel relaxed and confident when it’s time for a dental visit, or when we need to help adjust bottle or pacifier use or thumb-sucking habits.
We use smaller tools for smaller mouths, and familiarize your children with these tools and processes so they know what they can expect, and we speak in ways your children can relate to, even if they’re having a difficult time. Having good rapport with your child makes it much easier to teach them proper oral hygiene skills, which makes your job a little easier, too. According to the CDC, cavities are the most chronic disease between children aged 6-19, even more common than asthma! We look out for signs of cavities, gingivitis and other oral problems, so that they can be addressed right away.
Both children and caregivers are surprised when the first walk in – our office is bright, modern, welcoming and fun. Our waiting room and reception area looks like a magical playland with a play pavilion and toys to keep them busy while they wait. Our offices have fun and colorful murals on the walls. We want them to want to come to the dentist!
What do pediatric dentists do?
Dental health is one of the important steps to your child’s overall physical health. We provide your child with comprehensive and specialty dental care, beginning with education and advice on proper dental care so that parents can monitor bottle and pacifier use, thumb-sucking, diet and other concerns that affect oral development. We also give dietary advice and can suggest foods that will help maintain your child’s dental health.
Children are much more vulnerable to tooth decay than adults, as their tooth enamel is more sensitive to erosion, and if they’re eating a lot of sweets and carbs, this can make their problems worse. As your child’s teeth come in, we begin preventative care, more frequent comprehensive exams, and if necessary, protective dental sealants. We treat cavities and gum disease, crown cracked teeth and offer emergency care for dental injuries.
Many children grind their teeth, too. Teeth-grinding, known as bruxism, can crack or wear down their molars, erode enamel, and can also cause loss of sleep and jaw pain, so it’s important to address this as soon as we can. Pediatric dentists will look for any damage caused by teeth grinding, and may suggest a mouth guard. By starting their oral care early, we’re also able to diagnose and treat issues when they’re easier to fix, potentially lowering the need for more invasive, expensive treatment later on.
Mouth guards are also important if your child is an athlete. Most children’s dental injuries come from playing sports. We can make custom mouth guards to protect your child’s teeth and to keep injuries from getting worse. If your child is an athlete and you would like to know more about custom athletic mouth guards, click here.
As part of our education as pediatric dentists, we also study children’s growth and development. As children get older and their adult teeth start to come in, we also keep an eye on new changes, watching for delayed loss of baby teeth, teeth grinding, jaw alignment and wisdom teeth, and potentially referring your child for orthodontic treatment.
The specialized behavioral training we receive as pediatric dentists allows us to work with children and teens with special needs. For children with sensory processing challenges, especially, many parents find that a children’s dentist can provide an environment that makes their child feel much more comfortable and at ease.
Pediatric dentistry is also focused on minimizing pain and fear for common procedures like cavity fillings. Normalizing these procedures and making sure your child’s first memories around these procedures are as positive as they can be can help them develop good overall feelings about going to the dentist.
When necessary, we provide safe sedation for children receiving more intensive dental work.
When should my child start seeing a pediatric dentist?
We believe that your child should start seeing a dentist around six months after they receive their first tooth, or around their first year. These early visits help children get familiar with our office and what happens during dental visits, and ensures that we can begin following their oral development right away. We suggest twice-yearly visits, especially once they have more teeth so we can start establishing good habits, remove any plaque build-up and check for cavities. We may also take x-rays, which can show us any concerns we don’t notice from observation alone. For more information about what to expect at your children’s first dental visit, click here.