Pediatric dentists care for children of all ages. From the first tooth to adolescence, they help your child develop a healthy smile until they are ready to move on to a general dentist. Pediatric dentists have had 2-3 years of special training to care for young children and adolescents.
Research has shown that mothers with poor oral health may be at a greater risk of passing cavity-causing bacteria to their children, and periodontal disease can increase the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that all pregnant women continue to visit the dentist for checkups during pregnancy.
To decrease the risk of spreading the bacteria, mothers should visit their dentist regularly, brush and floss daily, and maintain a healthy diet full of natural fiber, and reduce sugary foods. Additionally, increasing water intake and using fluoridated toothpaste helps prevent cavities and improves oral health.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends taking your child to their first dental appointment and establishing a dental home by the age of one or shortly after the first tooth erupts.
Your child’s first tooth will typically erupt between 6 and 12 months, although it is common to occur earlier. Usually, the two bottom front teeth – the central incisors – erupt first, followed by four upper front teeth – called the central and lateral incisors. Your child should have their first full set of teeth by their third birthday.
Permanent teeth start to appear around age 6, beginning with the first molars and lower central incisors. At the age of 8, is generally when the bottom 4 primary teeth (the lower central and lateral incisors) and the top 4 primary teeth (the upper central and lateral incisors) begin to fall out and permanent teeth take their place. The rest of the permanent teeth will start to come in around age 10. Permanent teeth can continue to erupt until approximately age 21. Adults have 32 permanent
teeth including the third molars (called wisdom teeth).
Baby teeth are temporary; however, if a baby tooth is lost too soon it can lead to other teeth crowding the vacant spot. This can cause alignment issues when the permanent tooth begins to emerge and could cause crooked teeth and biting problems. Baby teeth are important to help with chewing and eating leading to proper nutrition.
One of the most common forms of early childhood caries is “baby bottle tooth decay,” which is caused by the continuous exposure of a baby’s teeth to sugary drinks. Baby bottle tooth decay primarily affects the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also be affected.
Early symptoms of baby bottle tooth decay are white spots on the surface of teeth or the gum line and tooth sensitivity. More severe symptoms can appear in advanced stages of baby bottle tooth decay and include: brown or black spots on teeth, bleeding or swollen gums, fever, and bad breath. If your child shows any of these symptoms, you need to see your pediatric dentist immediately to prevent further, more complicated problems from occurring.
1 – Don’t send your child to bed with a bottle of anything EXCEPT water.
2 – Clean your baby’s gums after each meal.
3 – Gently brush your child’s first tooth.
4 – Limit sugary drinks and food.
An orthodontist receives special training to fix misaligned teeth. An orthodontist must first complete regular dental training and then has an extra four years of specialty training in orthodontics. If you have misalignment in your teeth and/or jaw, a dentist will refer you to an orthodontist.
As permanent teeth begin to replace baby (or primary) teeth, we recommend an orthodontic evaluation. This typically takes place by 7 years of age and the American Association of Orthodontists suggests that children receive an examination by an orthodontist no later than this age.
The orthodontist will look at your child’s teeth, face and jaws to determine proper growth and development. X-rays may be given if recent ones aren’t available or don’t provide the proper angels necessary for evaluation. We are specifically looking at tooth placement, bite and jaw alignment, and the overall development of the mouth and face. If a problem exists, or if one is developing, the orthodontist will advise you on treatment options.
Three common malocclusions (bite problems) are crossbite, crowding and impacted teeth.
Crossbite – A crossbite exists where the top teeth and bottom teeth do not come together or bite in the correct position. Instead, the upper teeth fit inside the lower teeth when the mouth is closed. If the back teeth are affected, the upper teeth sit inside of bottom teeth and this is referred to as a posterior crossbite. In an anterior crossbite, one or more top teeth sit behind the bottom teeth. This should not be confused with an underbite, where all of the top teeth are located behind the bottom teeth and the bottom jaw is pushed strongly forward.
Crowding – Overcrowding of teeth is when there is not enough space in your mouth for your permanent teeth to grow in straight. This can cause misalignment of your bite and teeth.
Impacted Teeth – An impacted tooth is a tooth that does not fully erupt above the gums. This is typically caused by overcrowding, your jaw is too small for all of your teeth or the tooth is erupting in the wrong direction. Not all impacted teeth require oral surgery.