A pediatric dentist is a dentist who has received advanced specialty training in meeting the dental needs of children from infancy to adolescence. Pediatric dentists, during the course of their post graduate training extensively study child development and psychology, behavior management, caring for children with special needs, methods of handling oral/facial trauma, anesthesia and sedation methods, as well as develop a comprehensive understanding of facial growth and dental development. In addition to all of this, pediatric dentists acquire the hands-on clinical skills to successfully treat the dental needs of every child at every stage of development. Pediatric dentists truly enjoy working with children and strive to make each of their dental care experiences a positive one.
Even before your child is born, their first set of teeth is already forming. In fact, before they are a year old their new teeth will start to appear in their mouth. This is why maintaining their oral health becomes such an important consideration at such an early point in their lives. According to the American Dental Association parents are advised to have their baby see the dentist around the time of their first birthday.
Your baby’s first teeth will start to appear in the 6 to 12 month range. While this is an extraordinary milestone, you need to be aware that your baby may find the experience a little bit uncomfortable. Teething can make them feel irritable. They may be fussy, have trouble sleeping, not want to eat, and be drooling quite a bit. While you are powerless to speed up the process of teething, there are a few things that you can do to soothe your baby as their new teeth are erupting into place. Common approaches to helping your baby feel more comfortable while getting their new teeth include teething rings or a cold spoon or moist gauze rubbed over their gums. Even for these few new teeth, it is important to establish an oral healthcare regimen for your baby. For information on when your baby’s first set of teeth will erupt into place, consult this time line from the American Dental Association.
Some children persist in sucking their thumbs or fingers beyond their preschool years. For these children the activity continues to be a source of comfort, relaxation, and security. It may even help them fall asleep at night. However, it is important as parents to be aware that if your child’s thumb or finger sucking habit is still present when their permanent teeth come in, there is a greater chance of developing a bad bite. This means that if the activity has not ceased by the age of five or six years, you need to constructively and gently help your child stop the habit. It is also a good idea to have a comprehensive evaluation at this time. Your pediatric dentist can assess if there are any habit related alterations to the alignment of your child’s teeth or jaws, or if it is affecting their speech or swallowing patterns. They can also discuss habit control strategies with you, as well as follow your child’s bite and facial development as they grow. If there are recommendations that interceptive appliances or corrective orthodontic care is required, the pediatric dentist will discuss these with you.