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WHAT IS A PEDIATRIC DENTIST?
The pediatric dentist has an extra two to three years of specialized training after dental school and is dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through the teenage years. The very young, pre-teens, and teenagers all need different approaches in dealing with their behavior, guiding their dental growth and development, and helping them avoid future dental problems. The pediatric dentist is best qualified to meet these needs.
WHY ARE PRIMARY TEETH IMPORTANT
It is very important to maintain the health of the primary teeth. Neglected cavities can and frequently do lead to problems that affect the development of permanent teeth. Primary teeth or baby teeth are important for (1) proper chewing and eating, (2) providing space for the permanent teeth and guiding them into the correct position, and (3) permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. Primary teeth also affect the development of speech and add to an attractive appearance. While the front 4 teeth last until 6-7 years of age, the back teeth (cuspids and molars) aren't replaced until age 10-13.
ERUPTION OF BABY TEETH
Children's teeth begin forming before birth. As early as 4 months, the first primary (or baby) teeth to erupt through the gums are the lower central incisors, followed closely by the upper central incisors. Although all 20 primary teeth usually appear by age 3, the pace and order of their eruption may vary.
- Permanent teeth begin appearing around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until approximately age 21.
- Adults have 28 permanent teeth or up to 32 including the third molars (or wisdom teeth).
WHAT IS THE BEST TOOTHPASTE?
Teeth brushing is one of the most important tasks for good oral health. Many kinds of toothpaste, and/or tooth polishes, however, can damage young smiles. They contain harsh abrasives, which can wear away young tooth enamel. When looking for toothpaste for your child, make sure to pick one that is recommended by the American Dental Association as shown on the box and tube. These kinds of toothpaste have undergone testing to ensure they are safe to use.
Remember, children should spit out toothpaste after brushing to avoid getting too much fluoride. If too much fluoride is ingested, a condition known as fluorosis can occur. If your child is too young or unable to spit out toothpaste, consider providing them with fluoride-free toothpaste, using no toothpaste, or using only a "pea-size" amount of toothpaste.
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME FOR ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT?
Developing malocclusions, or bad bites can be recognized as early as 2-3 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, and 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 and 6-year molars. Treatment concerns deal with jaw mal-relationships and dental realignment problems. This is an excellent stage to start treatment when indicated, as your child's hard and soft tissues are usually very responsive to orthodontic or orthopedic forces.
Stage III - Adolescent Dentition: This stage deals with the permanent teeth and the development of the final bite relationship.
ADULT TEETH COMING IN BEHIND BABY TEETH
This is a very common occurrence with children, usually, the result of a lower, primary (baby) tooth not falling out when the permanent tooth is coming in. In most cases, if the child starts wiggling the baby tooth, it will usually fall out on its own within two months. If it doesn't, then contact your pediatric dentist, who can easily remove the tooth. The permanent tooth should then slide into the proper place.