Parents usually have a number of questions and concerns when it comes to their child’s health, and oral health is no exception. Here are the three most common question parents have asked about caring for their young children’s teeth:
“I have to see a dentist every six months, but who should see my child?
Ideally, a board-certified pediatric dentist should be evaluating, examining, and treating your child. Children are not just small adults, and caring for their dental health has its own unique challenges, which is why pediatric dentists go through extra years of vigorous training specializing in the complexities of treating children and the problems that can present in childhood.
Board-certified pediatric dentists have been extensively evaluated by a nationally recognized group of senior and experienced peers and have received a stamp of approval on their skills, knowledge, and quality of care. This goes beyond just looking for “holes” in teeth and treatment of cavities. Pediatric dentists evaluate things such as growth, the relationships of the jaws, health of the tissues inside of the mouth, and airway development. Early diagnosis of any conditions will lead to early intervention while the child is still growing and may reduce complications in adulthood.
“My child has a few teeth, when should I take them to a pediatric dentist?”
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that all children visit a dentist no later than six months after the eruption of the first tooth or prior to turning 1 year of age.
The first visits will allow for the child to get acclimated and show the child that dental visits can be very fun and do not involve any sort of discomfort. These visits also provide an excellent chance for the pediatric dentist to talk to parents and guardians about the best at-home practices to help the child grow up cavity-free. Parents will also be provided with information on what changes are expected to occur in the child’s oral cavity until their next dental check up.
“I know my child has cavities but don’t baby teeth just fall out?”
Although baby teeth, also known as primary teeth, are usually replaced by adult or permanent teeth, they still must function pain free in the meantime. Cavities that grow beyond a certain point can result in pain and discomfort affecting a child’s ability to eat, concentrate in school, and leave him unable to get a peaceful night’s rest. In addition, it is important to understand that primary teeth are “place holders” for the permanent teeth, and any premature loss or breakdown of the primary teeth may result in a more severe overlap or crowding of the permanent dentition. Lack of teeth can also result in less esteem when smiling and interacting with other children, and unfortunately may lead to loss of confidence.
Keep in mind, prevention or early intervention will be the least invasive path in achieving optimal oral health for both you, and your child!
Sara Shahi, DDS is one of the pediatric dental specialists at Upper East Pediatric Dentistry. A dental graduate from both NYU and Columbia University, she is passionate about the field of dentistry and spends much time in its study, having received board certifications from the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry, Integrative Biological Dental Medicine, and Naturopathic Medicine.