What Is a Pediatric Dentist?
A pediatric dentist is a general dentist who has completed additional years of education and training, and has also completed a pediatric-focused residency in a hospital setting. Their training focuses on the unique needs of children and their developing mouths. They also receive training for working with children who have special medical needs. A pediatric dentist can help your child develop healthy oral habits which will help ensure a healthy mouth that will last a lifetime.
It's important to teach your child good oral hygiene habits early because cavities can start as soon as the first tooth grows in. Babies have 20 primary teeth that are already present in the jaws when they're born. Primary teeth start coming in around 6 months of age, and create a healthy foundation for adult teeth by maintaining space in the jaw.
Do Baby Teeth Really Matter?
If a primary (baby) tooth is lost too early, the other teeth can start to move into the empty space and make it difficult for the future permanent teeth to find room when they come in. This leads to crooked or crowded teeth. Starting your baby off with the best oral care can lead to a lifelong healthy smile. Remember, both the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association recommend that your child have their first visit no later than age one.
How Do Cavities Start?
Cavities form as the result of bacteria and sugars building up on your teeth and forming a sticky film called plaque. Over time, if plaque remains on your teeth, it release acids that destroy the minerals in your tooth enamel. Eating acidic or sugary foods and drinks can exacerbate this process. If the loss of enamel isn’t reversed by changes in your oral hygiene routine, then eventually, the enamel will be destroyed and a cavity will form. If left untreated, cavities can continue to develop into the dentin and eventually the pulp, (nerve) which can cause your child pain.
For a downloadable form from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry that talks more about early childhood cavities, click here.