What is a Pediatric Dentist?
A pediatric dentist specializes in children dentistry. Pediatric dentists have spent extra years at school in order to acquire further knowledge and expertise in what the different stages, growth and needs of the human dental structure are as we get older. There is a different approach that a specialist will take for every single patient, depending on the age and development of the bones/jaw structure, muscles, and teeth. Infants, children, pre-teens, and teens are all different. Kids Healthy Teeth has some of Katy’s top pediatric dentists, including Dr. Elizabeth Chen and Dr. Sheryl Hunter Griffith.
Your Child’s First Dental Visit
Your child should visit the dentist by his/her 1st birthday. You can make the first visit to the dentist enjoyable and positive. Your child should be informed of the visit and told that the dentist and their staff will explain all procedures and answer any questions. The less to-do concerning the visit, the better.
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 make a practice of using words that convey the same message, but are pleasant and non-frightening to the child.
Starting at Age 1
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) all recommend establishing a “Dental Home” for your child by one year of age. The Dental Home is intended to provide a place other than the Emergency Room for parents.
When the child is seen at one year, the first visit can be pleasant and uneventful, introducing the child and parents to the dental office. Emphasis is on the developmental assessment of the child’s oral health. Caries (tooth decay), prevention of tooth decay, and developmental disturbances can be managed early. Fluoride varnish may be applied for prevention of tooth decay or to counteract beginning decay on newly erupted teeth.
Five Steps for Baby’s First Dental Visit
Clinical Examination by
age 12 months
|• Complete medical history|
• Knee-to-knee exam with guardian
• Note clinical dental caries
• Soft tissue irregularities
• White-spot lesions, tongue anatomy
• Enamel decalcification, hypoplasia
• Dietary staining
Caries Risk Assessment
|• Bottle or breast fed at night on demand|
• Non-water in bedtime bottle
• Decalcification/caries present
• No oral home care
• Sugary foods, snacks
Diet Counseling for Infants
|• No juice or milk in bed|
• Sippy cups can encourage decay
• Avoid sugar drinks, sodas
• Encourage variety and a balanced diet
• Low-sugar snacks
• Fluorides – topical and systemic
Oral Home Care for Infants
|• Brush/massage teeth and gums 2x daily|
• Small, soft toothbrush
• Tiny amount of toothpaste, with Fluoride
• Guidance on thumb sucking, pacifier
• Response for home accidents, trauma
|• Based on Risk Assessment|
• At age one year
• Two years if delayed in development
Why Are The Primary Teeth So Important?
It is very important to maintain the health of the primary teeth. Neglected cavities can and frequently do lead to problems which affect developing 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 6-8 years of age, the back teeth (cuspids and molars) aren’t replaced until age 10-13.
Eruption Of Your Child’s Teeth
Children’s teeth begin forming before birth. Around 6 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 varies.
Permanent teeth begin appearing around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until approximately age 21 if the third molars (or wisdom teeth) are able and allowed to erupt.
Adults have 28 permanent teeth, or up to 32 including the third molars (or wisdom teeth).
Please see the timeline below to see the teeth erupt and to learn more.