In the same way that pediatricians are trained to meet a child’s medical needs, pediatric dental specialists are uniquely qualified to protect your child’s oral health using the most advanced techniques. First, only the top 10% of dentists obtaining a four-year dental degree are accepted into the dental specialty programs. Second, pediatric dentists must train an additional two or three years at an accredited pediatric dental program in order to receive a graduate certificate in pediatric dentistry. Plus, pediatric dental offices include toys and are brightly colored to create a non-threatening environment. Some pediatric dentists practice general dentistry before specializing, giving them a unique perspective. They learn how to deal with the behavioral aspects of children, how to make them feel comfortable, and to make the experience pleasant. They also are trained and qualified to treat special needs patients.
Pediatric dentists care for children of all ages. From first tooth to adolescence, they help your child develop a healthy smile until they’re ready to move on to a general dentist. Pediatric dentists have had 2-3 years of special training to care for young children and adolescents.
Your child’s first tooth will typically erupt between 6 and 12 months, although it is common to occur earlier. Usually, the two bottom front teeth – the central incisors – erupt first, followed by four upper front teeth – called the central and lateral incisors. Your child should have their first full set of teeth by their third birthday.
Permanent teeth start to appear around age 6, beginning with the first molars and lower central incisors. The age of 8, is generally when the bottom 4 primary teeth (the lower central and lateral incisors) and the top 4 primary teeth (the upper central and lateral incisors) begin to fall out and permanent teeth take their place. The rest of the permanent teeth will start to come in around age 10. Permanent teeth can continue to erupt until approximately age 21. Adults have 32 permanent teeth including the third molars (called wisdom teeth).
Research has shown that mothers with poor oral health may be at a greater risk of passing cavity-causing bacteria to their children, and periodontal disease can increase the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that all pregnant women continue to visit the dentist for checkups. during pregnancy.
To decrease the risk of spreading the bacteria, mothers should visit their dentist regularly, brush and floss on a daily basis, and maintain a healthy diet full of natural fiber, and reduce sugary foods. Additionally, increasing water intake and using fluoridated toothpaste helps prevent cavities and improves oral health.
Baby teeth are temporary; however, if a baby tooth is lost too soon (either from an accident or decay), it can lead to other teeth crowding the vacant spot. This can cause alignment issues when the permanent tooth begins to emerge, and could cause crooked teeth and biting problems. Baby teeth are important to help with chewing and eating leading to proper nutrition. Finally, teeth play an important role in developing self-confidence and self esteem, even in young children.
Primary teeth are important because they help with proper chewing and eating, help in speech development, and add to an attractive appearance. A child who can chew easily, speak clearly, and smile confidently is a happier child. Healthy primary teeth allow normal development of the jaw bones and muscles, save space for the permanent teeth, and guide them into place. If a baby tooth is lost too soon, permanent teeth may come in crooked. Decayed baby teeth can cause pain, abscesses, infections, and can spread to the permanent teeth. Also, your child’s general health can be affected if diseased baby teeth aren’t treated. Remember, some primary molars are not replaced until age 10-14, so they must last for years.
One of the most common forms of early childhood caries is “baby bottle tooth decay,” which is caused by the continuous exposure of a baby’s teeth to sugary drinks. Baby bottle tooth decay primarily affects the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also be affected.
Early symptoms of baby bottle tooth decay are white spots on the surface of teeth or on the gum line, and tooth sensitivity. More severe symptoms can appear in advanced stages of baby bottle tooth decay, and include: brown or black spots on teeth, bleeding or swollen gums, fever, and bad breath. If your child shows any of these symptoms, you need to see your pediatric dentist immediately to prevent further, more complicated problems from occurring.
1 – Don’t send your child to bed with a bottle of anything EXCEPT water.
2 – Clean your baby’s gums after each meal.
3 – Gently brush your child’s first tooth.
4 – Limit sugary drinks and food
Only give breast milk, formula milk, or water to your baby. Avoid sugar filled drinks such as, fruit juice, flavored milk, and carbonated drinks. Provide your baby with a healthy, balanced diet. Make sure he or she is getting lots of vegetables, and don’t add sugar to food. If you give your baby prepared foods, check that they are sugar-free or do not contain added sugars. Sugars such as lactose, fructose, and glucose are just as harmful. Brush and floss your baby’s teeth twice a day, and make sure they are drinking plenty of water.
A few other recommendations include:
-Brushing and flossing your child’s teeth for them until at least age seven.
-Regular six-month pediatric dental check-ups.
-Remember, preventative care! Sealants around age six.
-Orthodontic treatment whenever indicted by your pediatric dentist.
These are just a few tips and recommendations to help keep your baby’s teeth strong and healthy. Make sure to visit your pediatric dentist for more tips on preventative care and keeping your child’s teeth healthy! You don’t want to disappoint the tooth fairy with unhealthy teeth!
The American Academy of Pediatric dentistry recommends parents take their child to see a pediatric dentist by the eruption of their first tooth at around 6 months or when the child reaches 1 year of age, whichever come first.
Your child’s teeth begin forming before birth and continue forming until late in the teenage years. The diagram below illustrates the AVERAGE months and/or years these teeth erupt.
Probably not as the expected eruption of teeth are in averages and not absolutes. The general rule of thumb is up to +/- 8 months from the expected average eruption time is not of concern.
We can’t wait to get started on your smile!