If you've just welcomed your first child into the family, or you're planning on doing so in the near future, then it's time to tart looking for a family dental care practitioner who specializes in pediatric dentistry. These children's dental care specialists have additional years of training, education, and experience in dealing with the needs of little patients. When you contact these professionals, like those at Dentistry For Children & Adolescents, here are five questions you want answered to your satisfaction.
1. "When Should My Child Start Having Dental Appointments?"
Your pediatric dentist will want to start your child on the road to dental health as early as possible. That's not an attempt to get more money out of you -- it's a genuine necessity. The first visit should coincide with the appearance of the first tooth, with additional visits as prescribed by the dentist during the critical period when additional teeth are starting to grow in. You should receive information about how to make the right dietary, nutritional, and hygiene choices for your child's future dental health from the very first visit.
2. "What Should I Know About Baby Teeth?"
Your child will start teething at around 6 to 8 months of age, and if you're not expecting it, you may be in for a noisy, sleepless surprise. Your pediatric dentist will brief you on the proper ways to soothe teething pains. Most deciduous or "baby" teeth grow in without complications. Occasionally, however, a baby tooth will become discolored, which could be a sign that it's dying. Your pediatric dentist can examine the tooth and decide whether to extract it or allow the permanent tooth behind it to push it out normally.
Some baby teeth refuse to follow the standard "schedule" for growing in or falling out. This doesn't necessarily indicate a problem, but if your child reaches the one-year mark without any baby teeth, you'll want your pediatric dentist to take a look. Your pediatric dentist can also advise you as to whether the baby teeth are interfering with the eruption of the permanent teeth, in which they might need to be extracted a little early.
3. "Is Fluoride a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?"
In recent years a public debate has raged about the benefits of fluoride as a cavity preventative versus its potential for causing health problems or permanent tooth discoloration (fluorosis). Even some dentists seem to have lined up on the anti-fluoride side of the argument. If you're worried about this ubiquitous additive and its possible effects on your child's well being, you need to bring this question up with your pediatric dentist, if only for your own peace of mind.
The official position of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry is that the use of fluoride products is both safe for children and highly beneficial in helping their teeth resist decay. As for fluorosis, your pediatric dentist can counsel you on ways to prevent this condition in your kids while still giving them the anti-cavity protection they need. These measures may include monitoring the fluoride content in your drinking water and teaching your children not to swallow fluoridated toothpaste.
4. "How Can I Encourage Proper Dental Hygiene?"
Pediatric dentists can help children understand the need to brush, floss, and eat tooth-friendly foods. But these practitioners are just as invaluable at helping you help your kids in these areas. Ask your pediatric dentist about:
- The proper technique for brushing a young child's teeth
- When to start flossing, and how to teach your child to floss correctly
- How to make dental hygiene fun for kids by devising games and rewards around it
5. "How Do You Put Kids at Ease?"
One of the reasons pediatric dentists undergoing additional training is so they can develop the special skills necessary for interacting with small children. It's natural for your child to be afraid of the dentist's office initially, but a good pediatric dentist knows how to put little patients at ease. Ask your candidates about their methods for reassuring and bonding with young patients.
Some people (of all ages) experience a degree of "dental phobia" despite the dentist's best efforts to relax them. In these case, sedation dentistry remains an option. This is usually as simple as applying a bit of inhaled nitrous oxide to relieve anxiety. Since any kind of sedation requires careful monitoring -- especially in children -- make sure you've discussed the pros and cons of this option with your pediatric dentist before agreeing to it.
Ask the right questions of your pediatric dentist, and you'll feel much better equipped to provide your child with a lifetime of dental well being. You might even pick up a few useful tips for your own teeth along the way!