Pediatric dentistry is an age-defined specialty that provides both preventive and therapeutic dental care for infants, children and adolescents.
It is very important that primary teeth are kept in place until they are lost naturally. These teeth serve a number of critical functions. Primary teeth:
- Maintain good nutrition by permitting your child to chew properly any tartar that has built up
- Are involved in speech development
- Help the permanent teeth by saving space for them. A healthy smile can help children feel good about the way they look to others.
Baby teeth should be cleaned as soon as they erupt. Clean your baby’s teeth with a soft washcloth or gauze after every bottle or meal. Baby teeth should be brushed using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Use water without fluoride until approximately six months of age.
The first dental visit should occur shortly after the first tooth erupts and no later than the child’s first birthday. Beginning tooth and mouth examinations early may lead to detection of early stages of tooth decay that can be easily treated.
Children’s teeth should be brushed after they are given medicine. Acids contained in medicines may eat away at tooth enamel, which serves as a natural protective coating for the teeth. By age 4 or 5, children should be able to brush their own teeth twice a day with supervision until about age seven to make sure they are doing a thorough job. Flossing removes plaque between the teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing should begin when any two teeth touch. You should floss the child’s teeth until he or she can do it alone.
Good oral hygiene removes bacteria and the left over food particles that combine to create cavities. For infants, use a wet gauze or clean washcloth to wipe the plaque from teeth and gums. Avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle filled with anything other than water.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recognizes the benefits of xylitol on the oral health of infants, children, adolescents, and persons with special health care needs. The use of XYLITOL GUM by mothers (2-3 times per day) starting 3 months after delivery and until the child was 2 years old, has proven to reduce cavities up to 70% by the time the child was 5 years old.
Replace toothbrushes every two to three months.