Starting children early with proper dental care is important to help prevent problems with decay later in life. As a parent, you may be preparing for your child’s first dental visit and find yourself feeling a little bit overwhelmed. Don’t let the uncertainty overcome you. Here are some things to know about what you can expect when it comes to dental procedures for your child.
If you want your child to have the best start with dental care, start those dental visits early. When your baby’s first tooth erupts, make an appointment for a pediatric dental assessment. Starting in the earliest stages ensures that your child grows up feeling comfortable at the dentist’s office.
This can help you mitigate dental anxiety, which is a growing problem for children, especially if they don’t see the dentist on a regular basis. Routine dental visits starting as early as possible will give your child the best chance to learn proper brushing techniques and avoid cavities.
As you prepare for your child’s first visit to the pediatric dentist, it’s helpful to know what types of procedures are the most common.
Dental cleanings are the most common treatment that your child will need. Typically, cleanings should happen twice a year. Cleanings are important because the process removes any built-up tartar or plaque on your child’s teeth which may cause cavities and tooth decay. In addition, routine cleanings also help to reveal potential problems in their earliest stages to prevent long-term or more serious issues. Dental cleanings include flushing away any plaque on your child’s teeth, scraping away tartar buildup, and then polishing those clean teeth afterward.
Once a year, your child should also have dental X-rays updated. X-rays are important because they provide the dentist with insight into tooth and jawbone health, the condition and position of your child’s adult teeth, and even the placement of your child’s wisdom teeth. X-rays are a routine dental procedure, but they are critical to your child’s dental health. Your child will have panoramic X-rays as well as bitewings to give a clear, detailed picture of the molars and wisdom teeth.
Another common treatment in a pediatric dental office is sealant application. Sealant is beneficial, especially for young children, because it creates a protective barrier over hard-to-reach molars that kids often don’t brush well enough. Sealant is usually applied following a dental cleaning to ensure that the tooth surface is clean. Once the cleaning is complete, the sealant is applied directly to the surface of the molars to fill the crevices and deeper surface areas. This provides protection against decay, which will reduce the risk of cavities in those treated molars.
Another routine part of pediatric dental care, fluoride treatments protect teeth against decay and enamel deterioration due to acid, sugar, bacteria, and plaque. Fluoride treatments are available in a few different forms. Mouthwash products containing extra fluoride can be used at home, as can prescription high-concentration toothpaste products. In addition, there are dental procedures that include gel or foam application with dental trays as well as varnish products that are painted directly onto the tooth surface. Since fluoride is sometimes added to municipal water supplies, your pediatric dentist is an important resource to determine if your child needs additional fluoride treatments.
Sometimes even the best efforts can’t completely prevent cavities. Fillings are one of the most routine treatments available in a dentist’s office, including pediatric dentists. Unfortunately, children are prone to cavities in both their primary and secondary teeth. If your child’s dental X-rays or exam reveal the presence of a cavity, you should have it filled and treated right away. Left untreated, cavities will continue to progress, ultimately needing a root canal or extraction.
Children often need orthodontic dental procedures to correct the placement and position of teeth for a healthy bite and to ensure adequate room for their teeth. Braces, retainers, and even invisible dental aligners are all popular treatments for adjusting your child’s bite. Whether you’re dealing with crooked teeth, excessive gaps between the teeth, or even an under or overbite, your pediatric dentist will advise when your child might need orthodontic intervention.
Proactive dental care can drastically reduce the likelihood that your child will need dental extractions, but there are some situations when it is unavoidable. For example, if your child’s wisdom teeth are impacted and need to be extracted, or if a tooth must be extracted to allow for bite adjustment with orthodontia, the procedure is unavoidable. Many parents assume that children won’t ever need a dental extraction, but sometimes even primary teeth must be extracted if they don’t loosen to allow secondary teeth to come in.
Children’s dental procedures are recommended at the same intervals as adults in terms of routine care. That means you should take your child to the dentist every six months for routine cleaning. Any X-rays that are needed will be taken during one of those cleaning appointments. You may find that you have to visit the dentist more frequently with your child if he or she needs fillings, orthodontic treatment or any other dental intervention. For children who actively play sports, it’s helpful to work with a dentist for proper mouth guard selection to ensure proper protection on the field.
Children who visit the dentist regularly have better dental habits and ongoing dental health. Routine dental visits reduce the risk of significant tooth decay, root canals, and extractions due to this type of deterioration. As a parent, it’s important to know what you can expect from your child’s experience and what types of dental procedures may be performed. That way, you can prepare your child and ease any potential dental anxieties before the visit. Contact us today for more information about our pediatric dentistry options.
Contact Pediatric Dental Group in Honolulu or Lihue, Hawaii at Honolulu: (808) 593-8828 or Lihue: (808) 245-2131 to schedule an appointment for pediatric dental care.