Why Should I Take My Child To A Pediatric Dentist?
A pediatric dentist has additional training — after completing dental school — focused on growth and development of the mouth and teeth. When we make a diagnosis, it’s with an eye toward the growth we know is coming. We’re also trained in child behavior, which helps us make dentistry kid friendly. We carry licensing in advanced pediatric life support, which enables us to respond to pediatric dental emergencies.
When Should I Bring My Child To The Dentist?
Your child should be seen by a pediatric dentist before their first birthday. This first appointment is a time to introduce them to the dental environment and educate parents about the dos and don’ts of oral hygiene and habits. Our goal in pediatric dentistry is to focus on preventative care and empower parents with the information they need to prevent cavities before they occur. Visiting the dentist at a young age can help shape their dental experiences in positive ways and help develop habits that will prevent cavities for a lifetime.
When Should My Child Be Evaluated For Orthodontics?
Pediatric dentists begin counseling parents of three and four-year-olds who are still sucking their thumb or a pacifier, encouraging them to wean the child off these non-nutritive habits before their jaw development is affected. For everyone else, evaluation for possible orthodontics should happen around age seven. At that age, your pediatric dentist can help guide the growth of your child’s mouth to prevent the need for extracting teeth later. Pediatric dentists have the advantage of understanding the growth and development so well that we can often help the child avoid orthodontic treatment all together.
When Should I Break My Child’s Thumb-Sucking Or Pacifier Habit?
Thumb-sucking and pacifier usage should be weaned by age one or it can affect the shape of the upper and lower arches of the mouth. Long-term usage can affect permanent teeth. Parents can take the pacifier away cold turkey or cut the tip little by little, so it loses its suction effect and the child loses interest. For thumb-sucking, parents can apply a band-aid over the thumb or mittens over the hand.
Why Should Baby Teeth Be Treated If They’re Just Going To Fall Out?
Baby teeth are present for speech, function, eating, development of adult teeth, and aesthetics. It’s important to keep baby teeth cavity free or bacteria can affect the adult teeth, resulting in cavities on permanent teeth. Furthermore, when cavities aren’t treated in a timely manner, the only option may be to extract baby teeth which are placeholders for adult teeth. If baby teeth are extracted prematurely, the space for adult teeth won’t be available, resulting in the need for braces in the future. Untreated baby teeth can lead to pain, infection, and swelling. Since baby teeth are smaller, cavities can travel to the nerve faster, so it’s essential to treat cavities before they’re too big to restore. The earlier the cavities are detected, the more conservative the treatment can be.
About The Expert
Shilpa Chandiwal, DDS
Healthy Teeth Pediatric Dentistry
Dr. Shilpa Chandiwal is a board certified pediatric dentist and an honors graduate of Columbia University where she received her DDS degree and certificate for Excellence in Pediatric Dentistry. She undertook post-doctoral training at the prestigious New York Presbyterian Hospital, where she received specialized training in all areas of children’s dentistry.