Paediatric dentistry is a branch of dentistry that that is committed to providing dental care for children. Paediatric dentists take care of the dental care needs of the children while they are growing up. It includes preventive dental care and intervene when necessary to stop dental problems develop into big worries.
The first visit to the dental clinic
The local dental care clinic in your area where you are registered usually advises you to bring your baby to the clinic even if only one or two teeth have erupted and there are no visible dental problems yet. The reason is to get your child familiarised with the dental clinic atmosphere and the dentist.
At the first visit, the dentist will make friends with the child and generally make her feel safe and secure with the dentist’s chair in this new environment. They will also check for early signs of any dental problems and discuss them with parents.
Another important goal of the early visit to the dentist is to inculcate good dental care habits which will help in preventing dental diseases later in life. The dentist will also discuss important issues like cavities or dental caries. The visit is a good chance to learn how dental caries occur and how to prevent it with proper dental hygiene and correct diet.
The dentist will also inquire about fluoride content in your drinking water. An early dental visit with your child is important to help get a headstart in your child’s dental health and overall wellbeing.
Fluoride is an important mineral for the health of strong teeth. Some waterbodies have natural fluoride content in them. Usually, the municipality of the area takes care of it with a fluoride treatment whereby fluoride is added to the drinking water supply.
If the water in your area does not have sufficient fluoride content, then it might lead to soft or weak teeth. If this is the case, the dentist will give recommend fluoride treatment to fortify the enamel your child’s teeth. This will help prevent the weakening of enamel and dental cavities.
Your dentist will advise you to use products that are fortified with fluoride like special toothpastes, mouth gel and specific foods. Too much fluoride is not good either, because it may interfere with the developing teeth of the child leading to fluorosis.
When you visit your paediatric dentist regularly, one of the procedures they will follow is examine the mouth and the teeth of the child. They will ask questions about the general health of the child.
After reviewing the medical history and current condition, the dentist will clean the teeth to remove any plaque or calculus. This is important even for children because plaque can accumulate even at a young age. Regular dental cleaning helps prevent bacteria from working on the teeth and creating cavities.
The dentist will also advise on the right brushing techniques and prescribe fortified toothpaste if needed.
Dental caries may begin quite early in children. Our mouth is home to many bacteria which thrive on sugar left over from our meals. These bacteria react with sugar and create acid as a by-product that slowly corrodes the enamel, the protective covering on the teeth. When left neglected, it damages the gum tissue.
The damage done to the teeth results in cavities in the tooth which makes the tooth vulnerable, at the same time creating deep pain. The dentist will clean the cavity and removes dead nerves and debris after cleaning it. This hole in the tooth makes the tooth very prone to injury, and may cause nerve damage. When regular visits are scheduled, the cavity is treated in time and filled the cavity with appropriate filling.
At your regular visit to the dentist if the paediatric dentist finds and treats cavities, the hole created by the decay has to be filled. The material used to fill the hole is called dental filling, or just filling. There are many kinds of fillings available, and the child’s dentist will advise you to choose an appropriate material to fill the cavity with. It is a simple and painless procedure which will stop further decay and make the tooth more durable.
When the tooth decay has caused cavities in the teeth, it has to be filled with dental fillings. To keep these fillings in place, the teeth especially the molars or the back teeth have to be protected from breaking or falling out. To protect these back teeth the paediatric dentist will order stainless steel crowns to top the damaged teeth. These crowns are silver coloured and custom made to fit the damaged tooth. It is cemented onto the tooth that has been cleaned and filled with a dental filling. This will keep the primary tooth in place till it falls naturally to make place for the permanent tooth to erupt.
Usually, children need x rays more than grownups because their bodies, including the mouth are growing fast and their make-up of the mouth keeps changing. X-rays are used to point out the weak structures in the teeth, like demineralization, or crooked teeth in the jaw, or misaligned and crowded teeth going to erupt. For children susceptible for tooth decay, it is advisable to get x rays done at 6 months interval. Now digital radiography is used instead of x rays which is more convenient and helps more in identifying problems.
Early intervention can save a child from getting crooked and crowded teeth by identifying the problem before they erupt. X rays show the position of the teeth in the jaw, and the dentist will provide enough space for the erupting tooth by removing the teeth which is preventing the new tooth to erupt properly. This will save the child a lot more trouble, and save the parents a lot more expenses in later life.