Pediatric Dentistry or pedodontics is a branch of dentistry that deals with the treatment of children from infancy to adolescence. Little patients are the most difficult ones to deal with, which require patience, compassion and a friendly behaviour to convince them for treatment and relieve the fear of dentistry.
Children need dental treatments for regular upkeep of oral health as well as to prevent problems in early stage. As a normal notion, people believe that early loss of milk teeth have no harm as they will eventually be replaced by permanent teeth. Here comes the crucial role of preventive dentistry in early childhood.
Why are baby teeth important?
Primary teeth also called baby teeth or deciduous teeth, appear in the oral cavity 6 months to 1 year after birth. They are total 20 in number 10 in upper and 10 in lower jaw.
It’s a common myth about primary teeth that they are of no relevance to the child for future oral health.
They are important because:
They help in early learning of speech and phonetics
Chewing and nutrition
They hold a space for the developing permanent teeth. They act as a guide for permanent teeth below to erupt in proper position. Premature loss of baby teeth may cause misalignment, impaction and drifting of remaining teeth in the empty space.
What dental problems may children have?
Teething: Pain or discomfort during eruption of teeth.
Natal or Neonatal Teeth: Teeth present at the time of birth or during 1st month of life.
Dental caries or tooth decay
Early loss of milk (deciduous) teeth
Retained milk teeth
Delayed eruption of permanent teeth
Malposition or crooked teeth
Habits like thumb sucking, mouth breathing, tongue thrusting, nail biting etc.
Trauma and factures
Common dental treatments for children include:
Preventive treatments : Deep pits and fissures which are most susceptible of dental caries are prevented from decay by applying pit and fissure sealant and creating a barrier between teeth and oral environment. Early detection of malocclusion or crooked teeth in time facilitates the process of orthodontic treatment and makes correction faster and easier. Fluoride treatment also helps in preventing tooth decay.
Pulpectomy / Pulpotomy: Infected or carious deciduous teeth are treated by pulpectomy or pulpotomy. Some may require pulp capping. It is done to prevent early loss of deciduous teeth due to caries and infection.
Space Maintainers : When a milk tooth is lost prematurely, maintaining the empty space becomes crucial. If not, the coming permanent teeth may deviate from their normal positions and may cause crooked teeth or crowding. Space maintainers are provided in such cases to do the needful.
Habit Breakers: Does your child have thumb sucking or mouth breathing habits? They may lead to dental problems in a later stage. Habit breaking appliances do great help in such patients.
Extraction : Retained milk teeth or decayed teeth sometimes need to be pulled.
All the treatment procedures become challenging in children because they don’t easily cooperate to doctors treating them. Fear of dentistry, doctors, injections or even the atmosphere of a dental clinic or hospital make them apprehensive towards treatments. Thus, kids’ friendly ambience and compassionate behaviour of treating dentist and staff help building trust with little patients which is crucial for treating them.