Pediatric Dentistry Facts: What Parents Should Consider
As a parent, knowing some basic facts about pediatric dentistry can help you properly care for your child’s smile. Pediatric dentistry focuses on treating and preventing oral health conditions in children, from birth through adolescence. Many general dentists provide pediatric dentistry services,and there are also dentists who specialize in children’s dental care.
Dr. Stephen Dowell offers pediatric dentistry at his Minerva, Carrollton, and Dover, OH dental practices. He and our team have created a kid-friendly atmosphere and focus on teaching parents and patients how to lay the foundation for a lifetime of oral health success.
Want to know more about pediatric dentistry? Here are five interesting facts.
1. Cavities Are Common But Not Inevitable
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), 42% of children ages 2 to 11 have had cavities in their primary teeth. Your child doesn’t have to be part of that statistic.
Preventive treatments like dental sealants, fluoride varnish, and regular dental cleanings aim to prevent cavities from developing. Additionally, parents should work with their child’s dentist to create an effective at-home oral hygiene routine.
2. Pacifiers and Thumbs Can Affect Tooth Alignment
Sucking as an infant is a natural, healthy reflex. However, toddlers who suck their thumbs past age three are more likely to develop orthodontic issues. Prolonged sucking can create crooked teeth, bite problems, and jaw alignment issues.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends parents give their babies pacifiers rather than letting them suck their thumbs. It is easier for parents to wean their little ones off of pacifiers because they can be taken away. Thumbs can’t be.
3. Pediatric Dentistry Focuses on Prevention
Pediatric dentists want their patients to avoid cavities, gum disease, and other oral health issues. When a child begins visiting the dentist after their first tooth erupts, the dentist can guide the child and parent on the best oral hygiene practices.
During dental cleanings and exams, parents learn about the benefits of dental sealants (a clear plastic coating applied to the top of the back molars) and fluoride treatments (a varnish applied after a dental cleaning that protects teeth against decay).
4. Kids Can Have Candy and Soda, But Not Too Much or Too Often
People often state that candy, soda, and crackers cause cavities and should be avoided. The truth is, kids can have those food items in moderation. However, consuming too much candy, soda, and crackers can lead to cavities.
Children who eat crackers a few times a week are not destined to experience tooth decay. However, if your child doesn’t brush and floss their teeth regularly, cavities are bound to develop. Likewise, children who often drink soda or other sugary drinks before bed without brushing and flossing will likely develop cavities.
Parents should limit their children’s consumption of these foods and beverages and offer healthy alternatives like:
- Unsweetened tea
- Apple slices
- Cheese cubes
- Celery sticks with peanut butter
These options are affordable and beneficial for oral health and overall wellness.
5. Too Much Fluoride Can Have Negative Consequences
Children may ingest too much fluoride if they are taking a fluoride supplement along with drinking fluoridated water, using too much fluoride toothpaste, or swallowing the toothpaste after brushing. Too much fluoride can cause fluorosis, which is a condition that causes permanent small white spots or stripes on the teeth.
Discuss fluoride use with your child’s dentist to determine a proper daily dose.
Learn More About Pediatric Dentistry
The importance of early preventive dental care cannot be overstated. To schedule a dental cleaning and exam appointment for your little one, call Dr. Dowell at (330) 627-5005 or message us online.