Why your child should see a paediatric dentist
As parents, we all know that oral hygiene is important. We know our children should brush their teeth twice a day, floss regularly, eat as little sugar as possible and drink water rather than fizzy drinks or juices. And we also know they should see a dentist regularly.
But why should they see a specialist paediatric dentist?
What is paediatric dentistry?
Paediatric dentistry is a specialist field of dentistry which provides comprehensive oral health care for children from newborns to adolescents.
A paediatric dentist focuses on the growth, development and treatment/decay prevention in a child’s baby teeth and emerging adult teeth.
How is a paediatric dentist different to a regular dentist?
Both paediatric dentists and general dentists deal with teeth. They both provide oral care, and improve oral health. Both can treat cavities and provide fluoride treatments to keep teeth strong, but at Smile Solutions, we recognise that children’s dental needs are different to the needs of adults, so our paediatric dentists are an important and special part of our team.
In Australia, to qualify as a registered specialist paediatric dentist you must first acquire your general dentistry degree, before completing a further three to four years study to obtain a masters degree or an equivalent degree in children’s dentistry.
They are trained to work with children to make trips to the dentist more fun and ease the nerves of anxious children through techniques such as Teddy Bear Therapy.
Working alongside dental hygienists, Smile Solutions paediatric dentists educate about how to brush teeth correctly and about healthy foods for teeth. Importantly, they help children to break bad habits like pacifier/dummy use or thumb sucking, which can harm growing teeth if not treated.
At Smile Solutions, our paediatric dentists work closely with our general dentists, dental hygienists and other specialist practitioners, ensuring your child receives a holistic approach to dental care. So, if your child does require early orthodontic treatment or eventually, braces, getting a referral to the Smile Solutions orthodontic team is simple.
Why should my child see a paediatric dentist?
While there is certainly a role to be played by general dentists and hygiene therapists for routine checkups, cleans, fissure sealants and small cavities, there are several other circumstances where you may consider taking your child to a specialist paediatric dentist (or paedodontist).
At Smile Solutions we recommend that your child see a paediatric specialist if they suffer from:
- an injury to the mouth or teeth;
- severe overcrowding of their teeth;
- problems with taking care of their own dental hygiene at home;
- visible decay at a very young age (2-4 years old);
- more than one serious cavity;
- severe tooth ache;
- swelling of the gums or cheeks;
- if they have a fear of the dentist;
- or any other special needs in the behavioural arena.
Why is paediatric dentistry so important?
Our specific training and qualifications focus on the growth, development and treatment of children’s teeth. It’s also important for preventing decay rather than treating it after it happens.
Healthy children’s teeth are the healthy adult teeth of the future. That’s what gives us such a big responsibility as paediatric dentists.
A child’s age, cognitive development and personality type need to be taken into consideration when they’re being introduced to the dental environment.
Familiarising kids with the dental environment from a young age is crucial to forming their belief about seeing the dentist. It enables us to introduce them to the ‘wonderful’ world of dentistry in a fun and friendly manner when their minds are still open. If kids are comfortable and even excited about their routine dental visit, we can have a preventative focus, aiming to reduce the chance of your child developing a hole in their tooth, or, if a hole does develop, to detect it early on, before pain can start. In Australia, currently half of all healthy children have cavities between their teeth at 6 years of age.
Some people are of the opinion that baby teeth don’t matter – they fall out anyway. However when children develop pain before the tooth is ready to fall out, they become scared. Children today should not have to suffer the burden of dental pain when eating and should not have to go to school with black front teeth.
The other aim of seeing children early is to prevent them from developing orthodontic problems with their teeth. If a toddler has sore baby teeth, they will have to suffer dental pain until their back teeth fall out, which is around ages 9 to 12 years. Also, baby molars play a role in guiding the eruption of adult teeth, so it is best not to lose them too early. When lost early, space for eruption of adult teeth in the upper and/or lower jaw is sacrificed, posing problems in teenage years.
For all of the above reasons, it’s important that your child sees a dentist for children – in other words, a practitioner who, with the support of their hygienist, will tailor various procedures – such as teaching a child to clean their own teeth, then teaching them how to cope with a dentist cleaning their teeth – to best suit your child.
In the case of children have complex medical needs, extreme anxiety, have had dental trauma. or have dental developmental problems, we refer to one of our paediatric dentists.
The team at Smile Solutions is here to help keep your child’s mouth as healthy as possible, so they have happy smiles for life. Your child does not need a referral to visit a Smile Solutions paediatric dentist. Simply call the friendly team at Smile Solutions reception to arrange an appointment.
Why does my child need to see a dentist so early?
The Australian Dental Association recommends children should have their first dental check up with their first tooth, or by the age of 12 months old.
Through the early years of your child’s life, their dental professional is creating a lifelong dental relationship. This first starts with a child’s parent or carer creating positive dental and health behaviors and routines at home and introducing them to the importance of dental care early on. Then as the child grows, the focus is on developing a familiar and fun – regular – lifelong dental relationship.
As often said, prevention is better than cure. Early identification of any issues is critical in this age group, especially when it comes to cavities and enamel developmental defects.
Baby teeth used to be perceived as not something to worry about, as they fall out anyway. However some parents don’t realise that the baby molars don’t naturally fall out until 10 and 12 years on average. Early loss of these teeth through dental decay can cause orthodontic issues, as this space can be lost, leaving not enough room for the un-erupted adult tooth to come through.
Currently in Australia 50% of 6 year old children have cavities in their teeth. These decay areas can be very hard to spot to a parent’s eye, and it’s often not until they are very large and close to or involving the nerve of the tooth that parents notice the decayed tooth/area.
Early identification and creating a health dental relationship is key for our next generation.
If you want more information about looking after your children’s teeth or want to book in their dental appointment, give our team a call on 13 13 96.