Pediatric Dental Care
What is a Pediatric Dentist?A pediatric dentist has an extra two years of specialized training & is dedicated to the oral health of children, from their infancy through their teenage years. The very young, pre-teens & teenagers all need different approaches in dealing with their behavior, guiding their dental growth & development, & helping them avoid future dental problems. The pediatric dentist is best qualified to meet these needs.
Your Child's First Dental VisitThe American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends an oral health consultation visit by age 1. Over half of children ages 5 through 9 already have at least one cavity. That is why we offer a FREE infant exam. We realize that visiting the dentist for the first time can be very scary, so we are happy to treat your child while he or she sits on your lap. Our goal is to develop a caring relationship with your child & encourage proper oral hygiene for a lifetime. It is best if you refrain from using words around your child that might cause unnecessary fear, such as “needle,” “pull,” “drill” or “hurt”. Pediatric dental offices purposely use words that convey the same message but are pleasant & non-frightening to the child.
Care of Your Child's TeethBegin daily brushing as soon as the child's first tooth erupts. A pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste can be used after the child is old enough not to swallow it. By age 4 or 5, children should be able to brush their own teeth twice a day, with supervision until about age 7 to make sure they are doing a thorough job. However, each child's progress will be different. Proper brushing removes plaque from the inner, outer & chewing surfaces. When teaching children to brush, place toothbrush at a 45-degree angle. Start along the gum line with a soft bristle brush in a gentle circular motion. Brush the outer surfaces of each— tooth, upper & lower. Repeat the same method on the inside surfaces & chewing surfaces of all the teeth. Finish by brushing the tongue to help freshen breath & remove bacteria.
Flossing removes plaque between the teeth where a toothbrush can't reach. Flossing should begin when any two teeth touch. You may wish to floss the child's teeth until he or she can do it alone. Use about 18 inches of floss, winding most of it around the middle fingers of both hands. Hold the floss lightly between the thumbs & forefingers. Use a gentle, back-and-forth motion to guide the floss between the teeth. Curve the floss into a C-shape & slide it into the space between the gum & tooth until you feel resistance. Gently scrape the floss against the side of the tooth. Repeat this procedure on each tooth. Don't forget behind the four teeth in the back.
What is the Best Time for Orthodontic Treatment?Malocclusions, or bad bites, can be recognized as early as 2 to 3 years of age. Often, early steps can be taken to reduce the need for major orthodontic treatment at a later age.
Stage I — Early Treatment: This period of treatment encompasses ages 2 to 6 years. At this young age, we are concerned with underdeveloped dental arches, the premature loss of primary teeth, & harmful habits such as finger or thumb-sucking. Treatment initiated in this stage of development is often very successful and, many times though not always, can eliminate the need for future orthodontic/orthopedic treatment.
Stage II — Mixed Dentition: This period covers the ages of 6 to 12 years, with the eruption of the permanent incisor (front) teeth & 6-year molars. Treatment concerns deal with jaw malrelationships & dental realignment problems. This is an excellent stage to start treatment, when indicated, as your child's hard & soft tissues are usually very responsive to orthodontic or orthopedic forces.
Stage III — Adolescent Dentition: This stage deals with the permanent teeth & the development of the final bite relationship.
Thumb, Finger & Pacifier UseSucking is one of a baby's natural reflexes. It makes them feel secure, happy & helps them learn about their world. But prolonged thumb-&-finger sucking can lead to problems. Around age 6, when the permanent front teeth start to appear, sucking may affect proper growth & teeth alignment. It can also cause changes in the roof of the mouth.
While pacifiers can affect the teeth the same way, it's often an easier habit to break. Just be sure to always use a clean pacifier & never dip it in sugar or honey before giving it to your child. If a child doesn't stop on his or her own, the habit should be discouraged after age 4.
If you have any questions about thumb-sucking, please don't hesitate to contact our staff. As always, we are happy to help you.
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Falls Church, VA 22046
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