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What Is A Pediatric Dentist?

What Is A Pediatric Dentist?

It’s those early years where development happens in the blink of an eye! One day you’re concerned with teething and the next you’re talking about braces. There is so much to know about your child’s early oral development, and a pediatric dentist dedicates their time to making sure everything is happening the way it should!

A pediatric dentist specializes in treating your youngest family members, ranging from infancy to adolescence. Pediatric dentists go through two or three years of focused training after dental school to learn the best ways to deal with an array of oral health issues associated with children.

At Baitner Pediatric Dentistry, we also pride ourselves on being able to guide your children to becoming healthy and happy, lifelong dental patients through understanding and age-appropriate education.

Why Are The Primary Teeth Important?

Because children lose their primary teeth, you may not see the significant role they play in future oral health! Also known as baby teeth, primary teeth allow your child to chew and eat properly, create space for permanent teeth, and encourage the development of strong jawbones and muscle.

When not taken care of properly, baby teeth can develop cavities and negatively impact the overall development of your child’s oral health. This can include speech development, severe decay, and more. So, it’s essential that you teach your child how to care for their teeth at home, as well as bring them in to see us at least twice a year!

Eruption Of Your Child’s Teeth

Did you know that your child’s teeth start forming before birth? And even as early as 4 months old, your baby’s first primary teeth can start coming in. These first eruptions are their lower central incisors. From there, the upper central incisors will erupt.

Over the next three years, your child is likely to develop all 20 primary teeth. However, not all children are the same, and in some cases, it may take longer. Between the ages of 6 and 21 is when your child’s permanent teeth will erupt, for a total of 28 teeth (32 including wisdom teeth).

Dental Emergencies

We all hope they never happen, but in the off chance they do, we need to be prepared. The way you react to a dental emergency can determine the future health of your child’s over oral health.

Toothache

Toothaches happen for a variety of reasons. Be sure to clean the area of the tooth in pain, rinse the mouth with warm water, and use floss to carefully dislodge any food that may be the source of discomfort. If swelling occurs, use a cold compress. And, if pain and swelling continue, call our dentist immediately.

Cut or Bitten Tongue, Lip, or Cheek

The first step to treating a cut or bitten tongue, lip, or cheek is to control swelling by applying ice. If there is bleeding, apply firm pressure with gauze or cloth. And, if bleeding does not stop, contact our dentist immediately.

Knocked Out Permanent Tooth

You can save a knocked out permanent tooth! Handle the tooth by the crown (the white) and not by the root. Rinse it gently with water only. Then, inspect the tooth for fractures. If it’s in good shape, put it back into place, being careful not to damage or swallow the tooth. If this isn’t possible, place it in a cup of the person’s saliva or milk. Time is of the essence. So, contact our dentist for immediate treatment.

Knocked Out Baby Tooth

When a baby tooth is lost, chances are it is not an emergency. So, if there is a cause for concern, contact our dentist during business hours.

Chipped or Fractured Tooth

A chip or a fracture in a permanent tooth can be detrimental to oral health, so you need to act quickly. Call our dentist immediately and only gently rinse the mouth with water and use a cold compress to reduce swelling. Attempt to locate any broken fragments, if possible. If this is a baby tooth, don’t panic, just call our dentist for guidance.

Severe Blow to the Head

Take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room. If necessary, a dentist will be able to take action later.

Possible Broken or Fractured Jaw

Take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room. After initial treatment, a dentist will be able to help.

Dental Radiographs (X-Rays)

Determining the state of your child’s oral health is based on a lot of visual assessment by our experienced dentist. But, advancements in dental technology, including dental radiographs – also known as X-rays – give our dentist a better look at what’s going on beyond what meets the eye. In turn, this makes it easier for our dentist to evaluate and diagnose any issues that could possible arise in a developing mouth.

Dental X-rays allow your dentist to isolate areas of the mouth and get a view below the gum line. When done every six months, our dentist can keep an eye on the development of oral health, including your child’s bite. And, with modern safeguards, we are able to limit the amount of radiation exposure to ensure your child is only getting the positive benefits of bi-annual X-rays.

What’s the Best Toothpaste for My Child?

Brushing daily is essential for maintaining great oral health! But, not all toothpastes are made equal. Some pastes may contain abrasive ingredients that can damage a young smile. So, be sure to purchase toothpaste recommended by the American Dental Association, as denoted on the packaging. Also, be sure to have your child spit out toothpaste to avoid ingesting too much fluoride! And, if you still have questions, do not hesitate to reach out to our office for more information.

Does Your Child Grind His Teeth at Night? (Bruxism)

There’s nothing worse the sound of teeth grinding at night. And, parents are right to be concerned if they hear their child grinding their teeth as they sleep. Bruxism can cause teeth to become shorter, have an increase in sensitivity, and can lead to jaw issues in the future.

You can detect bruxism simply by hearing your child grind their teeth, seeing the changes in their smile, or noticing their complaints about jaw pain. Children oftentimes grind their teeth because of environmental stresses. Maybe school is hard, or they’re dealing with divorce. No matter the reason, there are ways to minimize the damaging effects of teeth grinding, including mouthguards. And, between the ages of 9 and 12, most children grow out of the habit! However, do not ignore the signs, and reach out to our dentist for advice and guidance.

Thumb Sucking

Understanding why your child may suck their thumb is the first step in stopping the habit. Thumb sucking is a reflex that allows your child to self-sooth. Whether it’s their thumb, a pacifier, or another safe object, the sucking motion makes them feel secure and happy. That’s why it can be a tricky habit to break.

But, thumb sucking can lead to future dental health issues. Thumb sucking can disrupt tooth eruption, tooth alignment, and create issues with the proper growth of the mouth. So, try correcting the cause for anxiety, reward your child when they refrain from sucking during stressful times, and always feel free to contact us if you have questions or are in need of guidance.

What is Pulp Therapy?

A lot of children are no strangers to cavities and dental caries. But, these forms of decay don’t just affect the crown. The pulp of the tooth is the inside part of the tooth, containing nerves, tissues, reparative cells, and blood vessels. Pulp therapy, sometimes referred to as “nerve treatment,” “children’s root canal,” “pulpectomy,” or “pulpotomy,” all help to restore the affected tooth back to its healthiest form.

A pulpotomy involves removing diseased pulp and placing an agent over the crown to prevent bacterial growth and calm the nerve tissue. A crown is then necessary. A pulpectomy is necessary when all of the pulp needs to be removed. The root canals are cleansed and disinfected, and the proper form of restoration is placed on top.

What is the Best Time for Orthodontic Treatment?

Many may not realize just how beneficial orthodontic treatment can be for oral health. Braces and other forms of treatment are not just to improve appearance but can fix bad bites that can start developing as early as the age of 2.

Stage I
Early Treatment

Early treatment encompasses ages 2 to 6 years. At this age, our priority is to treat underdeveloped dental arches, premature loss of baby teeth, and harmful habits, including thumb sucking. This type of treatment is oftentimes very successful and can even prevent the need for later orthodontic treatment.

Stage II
Mixed Dentition

This covers ages 6 to 12 years. Permanent incisors and 6-year molars have erupted, and treatment works to align the jaws. At this age, hard and soft tissues are very receptive to change, showing great final results.

Stage III
Adolescent Dentition

At this point, we are treating only permanent teeth. The focus is to shift the mouth in order to perfect the development of the final bite relationship for great overall oral health.

Adult Teeth Coming in Behind Baby Teeth

Adult teeth coming in behind baby teeth is actually very common. Sometimes a baby tooth will not fall out when the permanent tooth makes its way down. While the tooth does tend to fall out on its own, if it does not do so within a couple months, contact us to schedule an appointment for removal. This then gives the permanent tooth the proper space it needs.


Early Infant Oral Care

Even before your baby’s teeth start to come in, their oral health is super important! How you care for their mouth at this stage can determine their dental health for years to come.

Early Infant Oral Care

Perinatal & Infant Oral Health

Yes, soon-to-be-mom. Even your oral health is important for your unborn child. Research has shown that periodontal disease can increase the risk of premature birth and low birth weight. Plus, with poor oral health, you’re more likely to pass on bacteria to your young children.

So, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, expectant mothers should receive regular oral healthcare checkups and counseling during pregnancy. You should also be sure to brush and floss at home, using fluoridated toothpaste, and consider chewing xylitol gum.

Your Child’s First Dental Visit—Establishing a “Dental Home”

Establishing a great relationship with the dentist starts by creating a welcoming environment. A “Dental Home” is a place where parents and their children can go and feel comfortable discussing and receiving oral healthcare. With age-appropriate language, talk to your child about the important role of a dentist, and steer clear of words that might make them shy away from seeing our dentist. We aim to create a comfortable environment for your child and understand that not all dental visits are easy. So, remember to stay calm and be patient!

When Will My Baby Start Getting Teeth?

Every baby is different and so are their dental journeys. Your baby is most likely going to get their first teeth between the age of 6 and 8 months. However, you may see them come a little earlier or a little later.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (Early Childhood Caries)

Bottle feeding can be a huge part of your child’s overall wellbeing and development. However, you should be aware of the potential risk of decay that comes along with bottle usage. Baby bottle tooth decay occurs when your child has frequent and long exposure to sugary liquids. These can include formula, juice, and milk – including breast milk.

When you put your baby to bed with a bottle of something other than water, the liquid can pool around the teeth. This makes it all too easy for bacteria to grow and eventually weaken the enamel. So, start giving your child only water at nap or bedtime. You can also start them slow by diluting their usual drink with water over time. You should also be sure to wash your baby’s gum and teeth with a damp washcloth to ensure that no sweet liquid is left.

Sippy Cups

Sippy cups are a great training tool when your child has graduated from a bottle. However, minimize the amount of sugary drinks you give them. These sugars can cause bacteria to build up as they are sipped throughout the day. And, by the first birthday, discontinue use and try moving on to a cup.


Prevention

Prevention

Good Diet = Healthy Teeth

They say beauty comes from the inside! And when it comes to your child’s smile, it couldn’t be truer. Eating mouth healthy foods allows your children to develop strong teeth and an overall healthy mouth. This starts with making sure your child is eating from all main food groups for a balanced diet. Proteins and calcium play a huge role in oral health development! And, while it’s okay to treat yourself every once in a while, be sure to limit the sugary snacks that can increase the risk of decay! Instead, opt for mouth healthy snacks, including veggies and low-fat dairy items!

How Do I Prevent Cavities?

We do our best to teach our children mouth healthy habits. But, it’s not uncommon for them to get cavities. In fact, young children are the most at risk for dental caries! But, they’re also very easy to prevent. Daily oral health habits – including brushing twice a day and flossing – get rid of plaque and bacteria buildups for older children. As for your littlest ones, a wet gauze or washcloth can be used to gently wipe plaque away.

You can also prevent cavities by establishing other healthy habits. Limit sugary snacks and never put your baby to bed with a bottle filled with anything but water (see “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay”). Also, coming to see our dentist twice a year, or every six months, after their first birthday allows us to keep an eye on their dental hygiene and make sure they’re on the right track!

Seal Out Decay

Some children get cavities more than others. So, our dentist may suggest taking another step to seal out decay. This is called a sealant. A sealant is a thin, protective coating that our dentist paints over the chewing surfaces of your child’s molars. Harsh acids, foods, and plaque are literally sealed out to keep baby and permanent teeth as healthy and safe as possible.

Fluoride

Sometimes we need a little help from our friends. And fluoride is most definitely a friend for growing children! Fluoride is a naturally occurring element that helps create healthy teeth. When children receive the proper amount, fluoride can strengthen teeth to ward off cavities and other forms of sensitivity. However, there is such a thing as too much fluoride.

When not administered at the proper level, excessive fluoride can be detrimental to oral health. Fluoride is found in foods, including powered concentrate infant formula, soy-based infant formula, white grape juices, water, and more. Plus, most toothpastes are made with fluoride in them. The overuse or ingestion of fluoride can lead to fluorosis. This can create a chalky white to brown discoloration on teeth.

Parents can take steps to prevent fluorosis though. Talk to our dentist about recommended toothpastes, only use a pea size amount of paste when brushing, avoid fluoride-containing supplements with infants under 6 months old, and be sure to see our dentist on a regular basis.

Mouth Guards

You can’t let your little one live in a bubble! Sports are a great way to get them up and moving with children their own age. But, don’t let that make you forget about their teeth! Mouthguards can be custom-fit to your child’s smile and can prevent broken teeth, as well as injuries to the lips, tongue, cheeks, and surrounding areas. If your child is involved in recreational activities, give our dentist a call for a mouth guard recommendation.

Xylitol – Reducing Cavities

Have you ever heard of xylitol? While it’s not as well known, as fluoride, for dental benefits, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recognizes that xylitol can be beneficial for those with special health care needs. In fact, when mothers use xylitol gum three months after delivery and until their child was 2 years of age, up to 70% of cavities were reduced by the time the child reached the age of 5.

Xylitol is found in small amounts in fruits, berries, lettuce, mushrooms, and more, and it can be used a sugar substitute or dietary addition. Anywhere from 4 to 20 grams over 3 to 7 consumption periods can be beneficial. So, do some research, talk to our dentist, and find products containing 100% xylitol at your local health food store.

Beware of Sports Drinks

When it comes to sports drinks, we’re typically thinking of the positive effects of replenishing electrolytes. But, those same drinks contain high amounts of sugar and acids that have the potential to erode fluoride-rich enamel and great overall health. This can lead to cavities and other forms of decay. Replacing these sports drinks – or consuming in addition – with water can minimize the risk of these beverages.


Adolescent Dentistry

When your child enters their adolescence, it’s time to reevaluate how you approach their dental health. Peer pressure, curiosity, and changes in behavior in general can lead to some new oral health topics that parents can prepare themselves for!

Adolescent Dentistry

Tongue Piercing – Is it Really Cool?

Nowadays, piercings go way beyond the earlobe. So, a tongue, lip, or cheek piercing may be a topic of discussion at your dinner table. However, it’s important to know about the potential health risks oral piercings come with. Cracked teeth, infections, nerve disorders, receding gums, and scar tissues are just a handful.

Your mouth is a host to millions of bacteria which doesn’t make it a great environment for an open wound. You may notice pain, swelling, uncontrollable bleeding, and more symptoms, if an issue does occur. So, are oral piercings really cool? While you may like the look for a while, the long-term health risks simply are not worth it!

Tobacco – Bad News In Any Form

In this day in age, we know the health risks that tobacco poses. That doesn’t mean your child won’t be curious about it. That’s why it’s essential to iterate the significant damage that tobacco can cause just for oral health.

Smokeless tobacco, also known as spit, chew, or snuff, has to found to possibly be more addictive than cigarettes. This is because one use contains as much nicotine as 60 cigarettes. Within four months, you can see periodontal disease and pre-cancerous lesions, known as leukoplakia, develop.

However, if your child does try tobacco or is a tobacco user, keep an eye out for the early signs of oral cancer. This includes a chronic sore, white or red patches on the lips or tongue, pain or tenderness on the lips and mouth, and difficulty chewing, swallowing, or speaking.


Sedation

We understand the fear that surrounds coming to the dentist! Dental anxiety and fear are extremely common, and our staff is trained to meet you and your child with patience and understanding. But, if fear of the dentist is keeping you from bringing your child in for regular visits, it’s time to discuss sedation dentistry.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry is the practice of using medication to relax patients during a procedure. In most cases, the patient is awake but is put into a state of calm, depending on the level of sedation. This is great for anything from a general visit to more invasive procedures.

Sedation Dentistry

Is Sedation Dentistry Right for My Child?

To some parents, using medication to soothe your child at the dentist may seem worrisome. But, sedation dentistry is completely safe. Prior to treatment, you should notify us about any changes in your child’s health, their medical history, and current medication. If your child shows extreme fear or refusal to see a dentist, it is definitely worth giving us a call to ask questions about your options.

Forms of Sedation Dentistry

There are several different forms of sedation dentistry, varying in strength. It is best to let our staff know ahead of time that you’re interested in discussing sedation dentistry, and together you will decide the best course of action:

  • Nitrous Oxide

    Nitrous oxide is a form of minimal sedation – also known as “laughing gas – combining nitrous oxide and oxygen. A mask is placed over the child’s nose, so they can breathe in the medication without putting them to sleep.

  • Conscious Sedation

    Conscious sedation is a heavier sedation. It is highly recommended for apprehensive children and those with special needs. Your child will receive the appropriate dosage of medication to help them relax and to block pain and discomfort. Your child remains awake but most likely won’t be able to speak.

  • I.V. Sedation

    Intravenous sedation is a technique that involves an injection to place sedation directly into the bloodstream. While it will not put your child to sleep, it will relax them to a state of deep relaxation. Your child’s health is monitored closely throughout the entire duration of administration.

  • Outpatient General Anesthesia

    General anesthesia is the strongest form of sedation dentistry and will put your child to sleep. Prior to treatment, there are some guidelines to follow that our staff will inform you of. And, your child will be monitored throughout the duration of administration to ensure their comfort and health. There will be some recovery time involving drowsiness and silliness.