February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Establishing good oral healthcare habits from a young age is an important factor in maintaining healthy habits as children grow older. Daily brushing and flossing coupled with routine preventative examinations and cleanings are very effective means to ensuring strong, disease-free teeth and gums. Pediatric dentistry focuses on the unique needs of a child and the accompanying changes in their teeth and gums as they grow. Optimally, children should begin visiting a dentist for routine cleanings and fluoride treatments beginning at age 3 or younger if concerns about oral development or tooth decay are present.
A child’s primary teeth are essential in preparation for permanent teeth and a pediatric dentist possesses comprehensive knowledge in regards to the development of children, special considerations and changing dentistry needs at different stages of child and adolescent development. Choosing to utilize the services of a pediatric dentist for a child in place of a dentist experienced in treating adults is beneficial to the child and their parents. Pediatric dentists recognize the anxiety some patients may feel on their first or subsequent visits and their knowledge of developmental stages and concerns is essential to understanding how to relate to the child and make them feel more comfortable. To treat children resistant to a cleaning or emergency procedure a pediatric dentist may opt to utilize sedation techniques and make the experience for the child more tolerable.
The additional training and experience a pediatric dentist possesses allows them to advise parents on proper dental hygiene, handling thumb sucking and pacifier use in addition to guiding them on foods to avoid and what to include in the child’s diet that will promote dental health. Establishing a routine when children are young and more receptive to a parent’s suggestions helps them to maintain appropriate habits as they mature and become more independent.