There is a typical misconception that children and infants are immune to oral health problems, which is untrue. To ensure your child grows with a bright smile, you should begin teaching him/her healthy dental and oral health practices in the early years of his/her life. That is important because whatever we practice during our childhood and teenage years influences our adulthood life.
Pediatric dentistry is a solution to several oral and dental health issues infants and children experience as they grow up. Pediatric dentists at Washington Dental understand that children are not young adults and require specialized care to maintain proper oral and dental health as they grow up.
We have a wealth of experience and a solid reputation in Lomita, California, and the surrounding regions because we provide children with a wide range of oral health care services.
Understanding Pediatric Dentistry
Pediatric dentistry is a special branch of dentistry that focuses on children and infants' overall oral and dental health. According to the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, it is upon every parent to ensure the utmost dental and oral health for his/her children.
For parents with a newborn baby, it is advisable to schedule your first appointment with a pediatric dentist before his/her first birthday or before the eruption of his/her first tooth. Typically, most babies' first pair of teeth begin to erupt at the age of six months, although it is not uncommon for some babies to be born with one or two baby teeth, also known as primary teeth.
Whether these primary teeth are present or not, you should visit a pediatric dentist to examine the general oral health of the child to ensure there are no infections or possible complications that can interfere with his/her future teeth eruption process.
Even with regular cleaning and brushing of your child's teeth, making frequent visits to a pediatric dentist is vital to enable him/her to cultivate excellent oral healthcare knowledge and skills from a tender age.
Unlike regular dentists, a pediatric dentist will undergo extra training to learn and acquire skills to deal with children and infants because they require special care and attention to dental and oral healthcare needs. A pediatric dentist can take care of your child's oral and dental health needs throughout his/her teenage years before you transfer him/her to a regular dentist of your choice.
There are several benefits of introducing your children to pediatric dentistry at a young age, which you will learn as you continue reading this article.
How to Prepare Your Child for Pediatric Dentistry
Early appointment with a pediatric dentist is crucial for your child's oral and general health. However, you have to start making him/her ready and familiar with what to expect in a dental office to alleviate any fears. Dental fear is an issue that affects even adults, and it all starts from a young age.
If you are unsure how to prepare your child for his/her first pediatric dentistry appointment, you should seek advice from his/her prospective pediatric dentist. A skilled pediatric dentist will know the best strategies to help your child overcome any dental fear or anxiety during his/her first oral check-up appointment.
Generally, the following tips can help you alleviate your child's fear of the unknown and make him/her comfortable during his/her first dental and oral appointment with a pediatric dentist for the best services:
Your dental fears can indeed make your child develop a dreadful attitude towards dental visits. Therefore, if dental visits make you nervous and restless, you should be vigilant to avoid portraying these fears in front of your child. By all means, you should avoid talking with your child about any bad experiences you have had with your dentist.
When you discuss dental visits with your child, you should do so in a positive manner. Avoid using negative or suspicious terms like "it will not hurt" or "don't be afraid" because they can make the child more anxious about the unknown. During your visit to a pediatric clinic, you should try to wear a happy face and use words like "fun chair" or "healthy teeth" to make your child eager for this crucial appointment.
Read Magazines or Watch Videos Relating to Dental Appointments
To support or reinforce your idea that a dental visit is fun and a worthwhile experience, you may want to read a book or magazine about dental visits to your child. You can even make your stories enjoyable and tell him/her about a dentist who loves to play with children and count their teeth.
Also, several videos on YouTube about visiting a dentist can help make your child mentally ready for his/her first oral exam/check-up. Use your laptop or phone to watch these videos with your child and encourage him/her to love the characters.
Your child will be more eager and willing to meet the pediatric dentist if he/she sees his/her favorite characters in these YouTube videos visiting a dentist to protect their oral health. Using this strategy can be helpful to prepare your child for his/her first dental visit because it gives him/her an overview of what to anticipate.
Schedule His/her First Visit to a Pediatric Dentist Wisely
Although wisely scheduling your child's visit to a pediatric dentist will not prepare him/her for the dental visit, it can make him/her cooperative and willing to visit a dentist during the actual appointment date or time.
It is advisable to schedule your child's appointment with a pediatric dentist when he/she is typically in a joyful mood. The preferable ideal time to schedule his/her dental visit could come after a meal or nap.
Remember, if your child is tired or hungry for whichever reason, he/she is likely to be uncooperative during his/her visit to a pediatric dentist. Therefore, it is wise to schedule your child's first appointment with a pediatric dentist wisely while paying attention to his/her overall mood and attitude.
Play Some Related Games with Him/her
Playing games related to a dentist and how these experts help people protect their dental and oral hygiene can help your child understand what to expect during his/her appointment. For instance, you can play a game where you are a dentist, and he/she is the patient. While playing this role, you should encourage him/her to practice healthy dental habits to avoid dental infection and a "bad" smile.
Afterward, you can take the role of a patient and let him/her take the role of a dentist, which he/she will most likely enjoy. Practicing or rehearsing what to expect during a visit to a dental clinic can make your child more eager to experience these fun activities, which will make his/her dentist's work smooth and efficient.
Allow Your Child to Communicate With the Dentist Ahead of Time
Pediatric dentists have special training and skills to deal with children and might be able to make your baby eager and more optimistic about his/her first dental exam. Although it might be tempting to speak everything on behalf of your child during this dental appointment, it is wise to give him/her a chance to create a rapport with the dentist if he/she is three years or older.
Allowing your child to speak during his/her dental appointment can give his/her dentist hints of the possible dental or oral health issues he/she might be experiencing. A pediatric dentist's rapport with your child can be slow, but a keen dentist will understand and note helpful information to make a diagnosis of his/her overall oral health.
Leave the Dentist's Room
Although you might feel the urge to be there for your child to hold his/her hand throughout the session, it is advisable to leave the room once the dentist starts to examine his/her oral health. When you remain in the dentist's room, you will probably make the child want your attention during the examination and treatment processes, affecting the dentist's productivity to deliver the best results.
The tips mentioned above can prepare your child for a dental visit and make him/her feel more confident and positive to handle this new exciting experience. Also, as you prepare for your child's dental visit, you should remember to prepare yourself as a parent.
The crucial part of preparing yourself as the parent includes letting the prospective pediatric dentist know your child's medical history since birth to avoid any possible complications during the oral examination or treatment.
Common Pediatric Dentistry Services to Expect During Your Child’s Dental Visit
There are several services associated with pediatric dentistry, but the most common services you should expect during your child's dental visit include:
Oral Health Exam
Once you visit a pediatric dentist for the first time, he/she will want to examine the oral and dental health of your child. The purpose of this exam is to determine the current oral health of the child for proper oral and dental healthcare advice or treatment if there is any threatening infection or abnormality.
During your child's oral health exam, the pediatric dentist will also determine if he/she is at risk of dental infections like caries, which is life-threatening even for an adult. Your child's first oral health exam helps the pediatric dentist plan his/her future dental visits. That means the dentist can easily detect any possible changes in your child's oral and dental health during future appointments for appropriate treatment remedies.
You should start cleaning your child's baby teeth as soon as they erupt on the surface of his/her gums. Cleaning your child's teeth at home is a very crucial part of protecting his/her oral and dental health. However, it is advisable to visit a pediatric dentist often as your child grows up to teach him/her the importance of regular teeth cleaning and protect his/her oral health.
A pediatric dentist has the skills to clean the inside part of your child's mouth comfortably using special dentistry tools to remove any hidden food particles, which can create an excellent environment for bacteria to thrive.
As part of preventative oral healthcare, a child should visit a pediatric dentist after every six months for thorough mouth and teeth cleaning to remove any plaque or tartar, making him/her susceptible to dental infections and cavities.
Although it is not a mandatory service in pediatric dentistry, fluoride treatment might be necessary to prevent dental caries or cavities, which is not an uncommon dental issue with children. Fluoride is a major component in preventing dental cavities or caries because it changes the molecular structure of your child’s teeth, making them more resistant to decay or acid attack.
The pediatric dentist must be extra careful with this treatment procedure because too much fluoride on your child's teeth can lead to fluorosis, which is another problematic issue.
Teething Problems Treatment
If there are teething problems with an infant, for example, delayed teething, a pediatric dentist can offer a solution to this dental issue. As your child grows, the development of his/her jaws and teeth must be appropriate to enable him/her to consume solid foods.
During your child's teething process, you should let a pediatric dentist examine his/her mouth frequently to ensure healthy and timely teeth eruption. Healthy and timely teeth eruption is vital in developing the child's speech and ability to talk.
Dental Caries and Cavity Treatment
Dental caries or decay is the erosion of a tooth surface by acidic excretes coming from bacterial activities in the mouth. Children are more prone to dental caries and cavities than adults because their dental hygiene skills are not the same as those of adults. Also, children are more likely to eat sticky and sugary foods, which provides an excellent and conducive environment for bacteria to thrive.
For all these reasons, it is advisable to take your child to a pediatric dentist for routine check-ups to ensure he/she is not at risk of dental caries or decay. Although a child's baby teeth are not permanent, it is vital to protect them against caries or cavities because the underlying bacterial infection is persistent and can invade his/her health gums if it remains untreated.
Depending on the extent of caries or cavity, a pediatric dentist can treat this dental issue through any of the following dentistry procedures:
- Placement of a filling and dental crown/cap
- Fluoride treatment can restore the child's enamel if the cavity is not severe.
- Root canal
- Tooth extraction
Care or Treatment of Dental Injuries
A pediatric dentist can also offer care and treatment services for dental injuries, which are often unexpected. There are many causes of dental injuries, but for children, this dental health issue is commonly due to trauma on the face area after a fall while playing or walking. Majority of dental injuries that children experience include:
- Fractured tooth
- Chipped tooth
- Cracked tooth
Depending on the severity of the dental injury, a pediatric dentist can offer an appropriate remedy to solve this issue within just one appointment. However, follow-up treatment might be necessary to ensure the tooth is healing and functioning like other nearby natural teeth. Common treatment methods the pediatric dentist may apply to solve this dental injury issue with your child include:
- Composite filling
- Administration of anti-inflammatory drugs
- Root canal in case there is a risk of tooth pulp infection
- Extraction of the damaged tooth if the injury is severe or its roots are weak
Misaligned Teeth or Malocclusion Treatment
Malocclusion is a cosmetic dental issue that means having a "poor bite" due to abnormal alignment of the lower and upper teeth when they come together. Some of the causes of misaligned teeth in a child include:
- Continued poor oral habits, like thumb sucking
- Tumors in your child's mouth
- Impacted teeth
- Mouth breathing
- Prolonged or continued use of bottle-feeders
Apart from the negative impact on your child's smile appearance, malocclusion can cause worse dental health problems if it remains untreated, for example, a decay because it is challenging to maintain top-notch dental hygiene.
Routine visits to a pediatric dentist can help diagnose and treat teeth misalignment issues because it is not an overnight dental health issue. Mild malocclusion may not require treatment, but a moderate-severe malocclusion will necessitate the use of braces. Braces can reposition the child's teeth over time to avoid any discomfort/pain or future oral health complications.
Before the end of your child's pediatric dentistry appointment or session, the pediatric dentist will educate you on crucial tips to observe while at home to protect your child's oral health before the next appointment. Some of the crucial tips your child's pediatric dentist will discuss include:
- Why you need to limit the use of bottles when feeding the child or future children
- The importance of feeding your child a healthy diet and nutrition to prevent caries
- The importance of using fluoridated toothpaste/water to brush and clean his/her teeth
- The importance of making a regular dental appointment to examine the child's oral health
The above tips are crucial in building a strong and healthy dental foundation for your child as he/she grows to adulthood.
Factors You Should Consider When Selecting a Reliable Pediatric Dentist for Your Child Oral Healthcare
The key to achieving the best services in every pediatric dentistry appointment is to find a reliable pediatric dentist for your child's routine check-ups and oral exams. The following factors can help you make the right choice of a pediatric dentist for your child oral health needs:
The Pediatric Dentist's Accreditation and Membership in any Related Dentistry Organization
A reliable dentist will have accreditations from one or two related dentistry organizations to show his/her quality of services is top-notch and outstanding. Don't hesitate to ask your child's dentist if he/she is a member of related dentistry organizations like the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and whether he/she has accreditation to prove that or not.
Qualification and Experience of the Dentist
Look for a pediatric dentist with proper qualifications to work with children because not all dentists specialize in this particular field. A reliable and determined pediatric dentist will stay current on everything relating to his/her profession through continued education to gain the best skills and knowledge to deliver outstanding services to his/her clients.
Choose a pediatric dentist who is willing to provide you with qualifications and training credentials to prove his/her competence to handle your child's oral healthcare issues throughout his/her adolescence stage.
Apart from checking these vital qualification credentials, you may also want to know the pediatric dentist's experience in this specific dentistry field. A pediatric dentist with significant experience in this field will know how to deal with your child comfortably to ensure the best oral healthcare services in every appointment.
The Pediatric Dentist's Reputation
Positive or negative comments from the dentist's past clients can give you a clue of the quality of services to expect once you book your child's dental appointment with him/her. Take ample time to choose a pediatric dentist with a credible reputation after checking his/her social media platforms and website to see what his/her past clients are saying about his/her quality of services.
Teledentistry and Pediatric Dentistry
Teledentistry is a technology that allows dentists and patients to communicate virtually without having to go to a dental office. In pediatric dentistry, you can access the following common services through teledentistry to protect your child's oral health while at home:
- Pre-surgery screenings
- Oral examinations and medications
- Preventative oral and dental healthcare
- Home-based orthodontics and monitoring
- Emergency services
With teledentistry's numerous features, a pediatric dentist can now monitor your child's oral health without having to schedule office appointments. Teledentistry services are convenient and cost-effective, making it an attractive and reliable option for people with busy schedules.
Teledentistry features advance with time, and we expect more virtual services in the future to make the relationship between patients and dentists smoother and more effective.
Find a Pediatric Dentist Near Me
If you are looking for exceptional pediatric dentistry services for your child’s routine oral healthcare needs, friendly dentists at Washington Dental are here for you. Call us at 310-326-5183 if you are in Lomita, California, or its surrounding regions to schedule your first cost-free consultation with our skilled pediatric dentists.