Pediatric dentists complete additional training that focuses on the dental care needs of infants, children and teenagers. Besides treating teeth, they also teach good oral hygiene habits to young kids that can last a lifetime.
Although milk teeth eventually fall out to be replaced by adult teeth, it doesn’t mean cavities and tooth pain are any less common in kids than adults. Pediatric dentists are trained to handle these issues with ease and patience.
Pediatric Dentists Are Like Regular Dentists
A general dentist can handle the dental needs of adults and children, but pediatric dentistry is more specific in its approach. Pediatric dentists have a unique training that allows them to better care for kids and understand their specific oral health concerns. This makes them better equipped to help parents establish healthy eating and brushing habits for their kids from an early age that will continue into adulthood.
Pediatric dentists specialize in the prevention and treatment of oral disease, injuries and disorders of infants, children and adolescents. They are able to advise and counsel parents on preventive dental techniques such as fluoride applications, mouth guards and diet counseling. They are also able to provide topical anesthetics for toothaches and perform oral treatments like cavity fillings.
The offices of a pediatric dentist are designed to make children feel comfortable and welcome. They have bright, colorful decor with toys and distractions that can help keep kids entertained. The dentists themselves are also very accustomed to talking to kids in a manner that they will understand. This includes explaining procedures in kid-friendly language, using smaller tools and avoiding scary terms that might scare kids.
A pediatric dentist can help you schedule your child’s first dental visit. It’s important to take them as soon as their first tooth erupts. This will ensure that they develop good oral health habits from the beginning and protect them from cavities and other oral health issues later in life.
They Don’t X-Ray Baby Teeth
A pediatric dentist is a specialist who focuses on dental care for children from infancy through the teenage years, and also adults with special needs. The specialized training of a pediatric dentist allows him to treat young patients in a way that is more comfortable and safe than the techniques used by general dentists.
X-rays are an important diagnostic tool that can reveal many health issues, but it’s best to avoid them with children unless absolutely necessary. The risk of exposing infants and children to unnecessary radiation is far greater than the benefits they’ll receive by having the procedure done.
In addition to removing cavities from the teeth of children and adolescents, pediatric dentists will perform routine cleanings and provide fluoride treatments to help keep their patients’ teeth healthy. They’ll also give parents helpful nutrition information and recommend and apply dental sealants to protect their kids’ teeth from bacteria and food debris that can cause decay.
If a child requires extensive treatment that is difficult to manage under conscious sedation, a pediatric dentist can provide nitrous oxide. This is a safe, non-addictive gas that works quickly to eliminate anxiety and promote relaxation during treatment. In some cases, a dentist will use topical anesthetics to minimize pain from needle puncture before administering nitrous oxide. This is typically accomplished by applying a small amount of EMLA cream (eutectic mixture of 2.5% lidocaine and prilocaine) before inserting the needle.
They’re Dedicated to the Oral Health of Children
Pediatric dentists understand the importance of oral health in children, and they take extra care to ensure that their young patients have a positive experience. This will encourage them to develop strong dental habits that they can carry into adulthood, and it will help keep their teeth healthy throughout their lives.
In addition to routine oral health exams, pediatric dentists can apply dental sealants and fluoride treatments, treat tooth decay, appoint special care for children with behavioural problems, advise on thumb sucking, pacifier or teeth grinding, monitor growth and development, and provide restorative procedures. They also have the knowledge and training to diagnose and care for issues like malocclusion (bad bite) or bruxism (“grinding”).
Taking the time to find a pediatric dentist will help your child maintain excellent oral health. It will also make them more likely to stick with their dental routine in adulthood, and it will prevent many common oral health issues from developing.
In addition to caring for children’s teeth, pediatric dentists have specialized training in behavioural management, which makes them better equipped to deal with children who might be anxious or afraid of visiting the dentist. This can include helping to ease the fear associated with dental treatment, sedation techniques, and how to best interact with children who have autism or intellectual disabilities.
They’re Patient With Misbehaving Children
Practicing dentistry is challenging enough, but working with children takes extra patience and skill. Pediatric dentists are trained to handle young patients and have experience dealing with common childhood dental issues. They know how to put their younger patients at ease, and they use tried-and-true behavioral management techniques that help them establish communication, reduce fear and anxiety, and ensure the patient is willing to undergo dental treatment procedures.
The key to establishing good oral hygiene habits is early education. Pediatric dentists are skilled at teaching their younger patients how to brush, floss, and take care of their teeth properly. Those habits will stick with them throughout their lifetime. Developing good dental health rituals also helps to prevent tooth decay, which can spread from the mouth to other parts of the body.
Pediatric Dentists use language that kids can understand when discussing dental equipment and procedures. They’ve practically developed a second language of child-friendly vocabulary that replaces words like “drill” with words such as “buzzer” or “wiggling the tooth out.” The goal is to make the dental office a place that’s comfortable for kids, and they’ll stay much calmer if they don’t have to hear adults talk about scary equipment.
Finding a pediatric dentist is a lot easier today than it was years ago. With so many dentists specializing in pediatric dentistry, you’re sure to find one that fits your family.