Friendly Dental Care for Your Child in Rockville, MD
Pediatric dentists (or pedodontists) are qualified to meet the dental needs of infants, toddlers, school-age children, and adolescents. Pediatric dentists are required to undertake an additional two or three years of child-specific training after fulfilling dental school requirements.
In addition to dental training, pediatric dentists specifically study child psychology. Pediatric dentists are trained to create a friendly, fun, social atmosphere for visiting children, and always avoid threatening words like “drill,” “needle,” and “injection.” Dental phobias beginning in childhood often continue into adulthood, so it is of paramount importance that children have positive experiences and find their “dental home” as early as possible.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children see a pediatric dentist before the age of one (or approximately six months after the emergence of the first primary tooth). Though this might seem early, biannual preventative dental appointments are imperative for excellent oral health.
Parents should take children to see a pediatric dentist for the following reasons:
- To ask questions about new or ongoing issues.
- To discover how to begin a “no tears” oral care program in the home.
- To find out how to implement oral injury prevention strategies in the home.
- To find out whether the child is at risk for developing caries (cavities).
- To receive information about extinguishing unwanted oral habits (e.g., finger-sucking, etc.).
- To receive preventative treatments (fluorides and sealants).
- To receive reports about how the child’s teeth and jaws are growing and developing.
What Does a Pediatric Dentist Do?
Pediatric dentists fulfill many important functions pertaining to the child’s overall oral health and hygiene. They place particular emphasis on the proper maintenance and care of deciduous (baby) teeth, which are instrumental in facilitating good chewing habits, proper speech production, and also hold space for permanent teeth.
Other important functions include:
Education – Pediatric dentists educate the child using models, computer technology, and child-friendly terminology, thus emphasizing the importance of keeping teeth strong and healthy. In addition, they advise parents on disease prevention, trauma prevention, good eating habits, and other aspects of the home hygiene routine.
Monitoring growth – By continuously tracking growth and development, pediatric dentists are able to anticipate dental issues and quickly intervene before they worsen. Also, working towards earlier corrective treatment preserves the child’s self-esteem and fosters a more positive self-image.
Prevention – Helping parents and children establish sound eating and oral care habits reduces the chances of later tooth decay. In addition to providing check ups and dental cleanings, pediatric dentists are also able to apply dental sealants and topical fluoride to young teeth, advise parents on thumb- sucking/pacifier/smoking cessation, and provide good demonstrations of brushing and flossing.
Intervention – In some cases, pediatric dentists may discuss the possibility of early oral treatments with parents. In the case of oral injury, malocclusion (bad bite), or bruxism (grinding), space maintainers may be fitted, a nighttime mouth guard may be recommended, or reconstructive surgery may be scheduled.
If you have questions or concerns about pediatric dentistry, please contact our Rockville dental office.