What is Pediatric Dentistry?
Pediatric dentistry refers to the branch that exclusively deals with examining children and managing their dental health.
Even in adulthood, dental procedures can seem intimidating, or even painful, and that's only more true in children who have never been to a dentist before. However, it's very important for children to regularly check their teeth so that tooth decay and cavities can be caught early.
Pediatric dentists generally have three years of specialty training and usually limits their practice so they only treat children because they've trained so much for it. They are both primary and specialty oral care providers for patients all through adolescence, including children who have special needs. Some common conditions that are treated at our family dentistry include:
Doctors will consult pediatric dentists if an infant is experiencing a delay in teething. It's important for jaw and tooth development to be correct so the child can wean onto solid foods appropriately. Equally important is the timing of tooth eruption so that the child appropriately develops speech as he or she grows.
Malocclusion or misaligned teeth
Malocclusion refers to a condition where the teeth of the lower and upper jaws don't line up when the jaw is shut. Not only can this misalignment cause problems when speaking or eating, but it can also result in biting pain and injuries to the tongue, gum, and inside the mouth. Pediatric dentists use braces to treat misalignment.
Dental cavities and tooth decay
Although baby teeth eventually come out and are replaced by adult teeth, it is still the parents' responsibility to maintain good dental hygiene for their children. In fact, kids are more likely to experience tooth decay, meaning cavities are more likely to cause toothaches and expose the pulpy tooth interior to bacteria.
Because all children are different, pediatric dentists employ a wide range of techniques to help them get through the appointment as comfortably as possible. At our East Los Angeles dentist office, we will make recommendations on how to work with your child based on their special care needs, dental health needs, health history, intellectual and emotional development, type of treatment needed, the consequences of not getting treatment, and your preferences.
How Important is Dental Care for Children?
As far as your child's dental health is concerned, now is always the best time to get started. Our East Los Angeles children dentist will work with you to ensure that your child keeps his or her teeth healthy and free of dental diseases like tooth decay.
Good Oral Hygiene for Kids
Practicing good oral hygiene should begin as early as infancy. Whether you're bottle feeding or nursing, now is the best time to start a dental hygiene routine. If no teeth have erupted yet, use a soft, wet washcloth or a gauze to gently wipe down the gums. Once teeth begin to erupt, then simply keep them clean. You'll need the right tools, of course; for instance, you need a very small toothbrush that is specifically made for babies that will fit in their small mouths.
Make sure your child has his or her first appointment with our dental office by the time he or she turns two years old, though earlier is good too. Our dentists will remove any food debris and plaque build-up to help keep your child's teeth healthy. This is especially important to do at all stages of life because food bits help breed bacteria, which can lead to gum tissue inflammation, tooth decay, and other dental diseases.
Professional Care Tips
Our family dentistry professionals will offer expert guidance on the best way to care for your child's dental hygiene from the comfort of your home. In most cases, this information includes how to thoroughly brush their teeth, how to floss, and any other information related to a condition they may have.
We will also discuss eating habits and ways that parents can further protect their child's gums and teeth. One example precaution is to outright avoid sugar, and to restrict starch. Furthermore, children should never sleep with milk or juice in the bottom, or while nursing.
During these early stages, your child's teeth are still developing, so any changes at this point can greatly affect his or her future dental health. Therefore, it's very important that you take your child for regular dental visits, or as recommended by our specialists.
Why is Pediatric Dentistry So Important?
The earlier you can bring your child in for regular dentist appointments, the cleaner and healthier their mouths will be for the rest of their lives. Early checkups are critical for preventing tooth decay and cavities, both of which can result in pain, difficulty concentrating, and a host of worse dental conditions. Children with healthy mouths smile with confidence, chew without difficulty, and can speak coherently.
Working with a pediatric dentist early on helps parents learn best practices for their children. For example, most dentists discourage nighttime breastfeeding on demand once the first tooth erupts.
Of all chronic tooth diseases, children in America suffer the most from tooth decay. According to the CDC, over 40 percent of children experience tooth decay by kindergarten age, and the story is no less grim in Los Angeles. These facts alone should truly be indicative of how important it is to have a regular pediatric dentist.
Why Gage Dental Care is Best for Children
In order to make your child's dental visit as calm and comfortable as possible, Gage Dental Care's East Los Angeles children dentist staff welcomes you with amenities that can be likened to a spa. The entire building is a safe space to receive comfort and care in equal amounts to dental hygiene. At Gage, you'll find an abundance of comfort features in our waiting room, such as:
- Newspapers and magazines
- Complimentary water, coffee, juice, and tea
- Lounge-like reception area
At Gage Dental Care, it is our belief that all patients should feel comfortable before, during, and after the procedures. We like to go the extra mile for our patients, offering a 3D VR glasses and several films to watch while sitting in the chair. We also offer safety sunglasses for protection if we must perform a dental treatment on site.
During your appointment, you can also enjoy:
- The ability to put on headphones and listen to music
- Moistening lip balm that will also whiten teeth
- Warm towels
- Paraffin wax for the hands
How to Prepare Your Child For Their First Trip to the Dentist
As a parent, you're certainly familiar with all the exciting firsts that come with having a child of your own--first words, first steps, first bites of solid food, and so on. Although it may not be quite as exciting of a first, it's just as important: the first trip to the dentist.
Most children arrive at the office insufficiently prepared for the appointment. Parents often feel they should keep the appointment a secret because they are afraid of the dentist themselves. Although infants may not be able to truly understand the experience, there are several ways you can prepare the two of you for this first appointment.
New parents should absolutely consider the East Los Angeles dentist that specializes in pediatric care specifically, such as Gage Dental Care. Going to your own regular dentist is a mistake, especially if they don't advertise as caring for children; they aren't going to be trained for it, and it will end up being a scary experience that makes future trips that much harder. A child's dentist must be compassionate, caring, trained, and experienced.
When they're very young, children are fascinated about what their bodies are capable of doing. By talking to them about teeth and dental hygiene, they'll be interested to learn more about their bodies while becoming more educated in the matter. Very young children just need to know where their teeth are and their tongue is, and that's the first step of awareness of dental hygiene.
It's also helpful to try fun children's activities to get them thinking even more about their teeth. For example, reading poems and books about teeth, smiling, singing songs, doing crafts, and working with our pediatric dentists are all excellent ways to prepare for the first appointment in an engaging and exciting way.
Finally, if your baby has older siblings, recruit them into the process. If you make brushing teeth a family activity, your youngest will witness and develop healthy habits that everyone in the family is also doing. Try adding music to make the experience even more fun, or try character-themed toothbrushes of colorful toothpaste. The goal is to make the experience seem as fun as possible so your child will want to brush their teeth on their own.
How to Care For Your Child's Dental Hygiene
Good dental hygiene should start at infancy. At the age of 1 or 2, start with a tiny toothbrush that is made for babies specifically. At first, you'll want to gently brush their teeth twice a day or more using just water. You may also elect to include a tiny dab of non-fluoride toothpaste; toothpaste without fluoride can be swallowed without worry. When your child can spit out his or her own toothpaste, then you can switch to fluoride.
Chances are good that your child will need help with brushing their teeth correctly until about the age of 8. When they are this age, then your child can use a bigger toothbrush, swapping them every 6 months or so, whenever the bristles seem to be worn down and too used. Children ought to brush their teeth for about 2 minutes at a time, and they should be able to floss at least once per day. Some flosses come on a handle to make this part easier.
Things to consider
Babies suck on pacifiers, their fingers, and their thumbs regularly; this is normal behavior that most children stop doing without intervention by the age of 4. However, some children continue to suck on thumbs, and doing so for too long can result in problems with tooth alignment.
If your child is older than 4 and still has a sucking habit, then you should talk with our pediatric dentists for advice. We will monitor your child for any problems with their teeth while they develop. Usually, there is nothing to worry about until the permanent teeth start to come in around age 6.
When to see the dentist
According to the American Dental Association, it is recommended to see a dentist by the time the child is 1 year old. This is the best time frame for our dentists to detect any early problems that may be developing in your child's mouth. Gage's pediatric dentists are trained to work with children and can teach you the best practices for infant oral care.
Call our dentists right away if:
- Your child has a mouth or tooth infection, or otherwise have tooth pain
- Your child has lost a permanent tooth; put it in milk and bring it to the dentist, as it may be possible to reattach the tooth
Because babies under the age of 2 are not able to expectorate--that is, they are unable to spit anything out on purpose--toothpaste is not advised at this stage of life. If you're concerned about merely using water for your infant's teeth, non-fluoride toothpastes exist that can safely be swallowed.
Dental fluorosis is a condition that occurs in children under the age of 8, and it is caused by excess fluoride on forming teeth before they erupt. Though it doesn't have any negative health effects, it is a cosmetic concern.
Less than 2 percent of affected people have worse than mild fluorosis, which manifests as small white lines or spots on the teeth. In order to minimize the risk of this condition appearing, make sure your child learns to spit and never swallows the toothpaste. It's also important to rinse after brushing teeth.
Another option is to stick with non-fluoride toothpaste and instead rely on fluoridated water; the amount of fluoride in the water is in much lower concentration than that found in toothpaste, making it a much safer option and an excellent choice of beverage for growing children--especially since even natural fruit juice can cause tooth decay in people of all ages.