Pediatric Dentistry – Why are “baby teeth” important?

Why are “baby teeth” important?

Primary teeth have been labeled “baby teeth.” However, the first tooth is usually lost around age six and some primary molars remain in place until 12 or 13 years of age. Primary teeth are necessary for proper chewing, speech, development of the jaws and esthetics. Care of the primary teeth is important not only for proper function, but also to avoid a number of unpleasant conditions, such as pain or infection, that may result from their neglect.

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Child patient at the dentist – close up

Is it okay for my child to use a zippy cup?

Zippy cup or nursing bottle mouth (early childhood caries) is caused by frequent and prolonged exposure to liquids containing sugars (milk, formula, fruit juice, sports drinks, soda pop) and can rapidly destroy your child’s teeth if not caught in time. Never put your child to sleep with a bottle or zippy cup. Encourage your child to drink from an open cup as early as his/her first birthday.
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What if my child uses a pacifier or sucks a thumb?

This type of sucking is completely normal for infants and very young children as it provides a sense of security and relaxation. Most children naturally stop sucking their thumb or pacifier between two and four years of age with little to no harm to their teeth or jaws. However, prolonged pacifier use or thumb-sucking can push your child’s teeth forward and cause an open bite or may cause the teeth to not come in properly. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children should cease these habits by the age of three. Ask the dentist for ideas to help your child quit his or her habit.

Why is early orthodontic care important?

Early orthodontics can enhance your child’s smile, but the benefits far surpass appearance. Pediatric orthodontics can straighten crooked teeth, guide erupting teeth into position, correct bite problems, and even prevent the need for tooth extractions. In addition, straight teeth are easier to keep clean and less susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease.

What are space maintainers?

A space maintainer is used to hold space in the jaw for a permanent tooth when a baby tooth has been prematurely lost. If space is not maintained, teeth on either side of the missing tooth can drift into the space and prevent the permanent tooth from erupting. Space maintainers are usually made of metal and are custom made for your child’s mouth.

What are dental sealants?

Sealants are adhesive coatings that are applied to the chewing surfaces of teeth and can be very effective in preventing tooth decay. Even if your child brushes and flosses carefully, it is difficult—sometimes impossible—to clean the tiny grooves and pits on certain teeth. Food and bacteria build up in these crevices, placing your child in danger of tooth decay. Sealants seal out food and plaque, thus reducing the risk of decay.

Closeup of kid or child mouth at dentist. Dental mirror and teeth reflection
Closeup of kid or child mouth at dentist. Dental mirror and teeth reflection

Should my child wear an athletic mouth guard?

Athletic mouth guards are soft plastic mouth guards made specifically for your child’s teeth. They protect the teeth, lips, cheeks and tongue. They can help protect children from such serious head and neck injuries as concussions and jaw fractures. Increasingly, organized sports are requiring mouth guards to prevent injury to their athletes. Current research suggests that most oral injuries occur when athletes are not wearing mouth protection.

What is nitrous oxide?
Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is a safe and effective way to calm a mildly anxious child during the restorative visit. Your child remains fully conscious and alert while breathing the laughing gas. At the end of treatment, it is eliminated after a short period of breathing oxygen and has no lingering effects.

What is conscious sedation?
Sedation is a technique to guide a child’s behavior during dental treatment. Medications are used to help increase cooperation and to reduce anxiety during dental procedures. Sedative medications cause most children to become relaxed and drowsy. Sedation may be indicated for children who have a level of anxiety that prevents good coping skills, those who are very young and do not understand how to cope in a cooperative fashion, or those requiring extensive dental treatment. Sedation can be used safely and effectively when administered by a pediatric dentist with a conscious sedation permit.

What is general anesthesia?
General anesthesia is a controlled state of unconsciousness that eliminates awareness, movement and discomfort during dental treatment. General anesthesia provides a way of effectively completing dental care in a hospital setting while a child is unconscious. It is generally reserved for children with severe anxiety, extensive tooth decay, young age, special needs or compromised health. Visit this website