What is Paediatric Dentistry and Where Can I Find a Child’s Dentist in Indooroopilly?
Baby teeth begin to appear in your child’s mouth usually when they are around 4-7 months old. That said, it is not uncommon for them to emerge a little earlier than this, from as early as 3 months of age, or a little later, when your child is closer to one year old. You may also sometimes hear baby teeth referred to as milk teeth, deciduous teeth, or primary teeth.
Usually, it is the bottom teeth at the centre that emerge first, with all baby teeth emerging by the time they are three years of age. It is often the molars at the back of the mouth that take the longest to come through. In total there are 20 baby teeth.
What is teething?
Teething can occur from when the teeth first emerge, so when your child is as young as 3 months of age. Teething refers to the process of the baby teeth emerging through your child’s gums, and it can be associated with a number of symptoms that are unpleasant for your child.
These symptoms may include drooling, excessive mouthing of objects, a bad mood, or your child rubbing their own gums. It is often teething that induces parents to arrange a child’s first dental visit to their Indooroopilly dentist.
This is in line with the advice of most dentists, which is that your child’s first dental visit at your dentist should typically be when their first teeth emerge or at 12 months of age. If it takes longer than 12 months for your child’s first baby teeth to begin appearing it is generally advised by your dentist that you arrange a dental visit.
Many parents do leave it later than this, but this may allow development problems to advance, or for common issues like tooth decay to set in.
Your dentist will be able to provide specialised advice on teething. This may include how to make your child comfortable, for example, through chilled teething rings, pacifiers/dummies, or pain relief. They will also advise on which treatments to avoid, as some may pose a risk to your baby or toddler.
They will also provide advice on teeth cleaning, advice on what will happen next, advice on dummy use, advice on avoiding tooth decay, and other helpful instructions that will give you confidence you are doing the right thing as a parent.
Managing tooth decay
A major risk to your child’s oral health is tooth decay. Tooth decay is a process that can damage the teeth and cause pain, but fortunately it is well understood and there are many things you can do to minimise its risk.
Firstly, it is important to understand how tooth decay occurs. The bacteria that exist inside your child’s mouth (and yours) use the sugar we consume in our diet to generate acid which can then damage the surface of the teeth and result in decay, discolouration and cavities. This results in weaker teeth and pain for your child.
Baby teeth are particularly prone to decay because they are less strong than adult teeth, and because children are not yet able to look after their teeth and nor is it always easy to do so as a parent – though you should always do your best on the advice of your dentist.
Your dentist will be able to provide advice on the causes of your child’s tooth decay, which may include a bad brushing and flossing routine and regular snacking or sugar consumption. They will also advise on methods to preserve the teeth, including establishing a technically correct oral hygiene routine and following a diet that helps to protect the teeth.
However, the main role of the dentist though is to prevent your child from experiencing tooth decay – and not just through advice. Your dentist can offer both preventative and restorative treatment to reduce the impact of tooth decay and restore your child’s natural teeth. They may recommend a filling to fill a cavity, fissure sealants to reduce the risk of decay in deep fissures in the back molars, fluoride treatment, and undertake cleaning to remove plaque from the teeth.
This is important because addressing tooth decay with the support of your dentist will reduce your child’s pain, and safeguard the healthy development of their teeth, as children’s baby teeth play an important role in the development of adult teeth.
Other risks to be aware of for younger children
By regularly attending the dentist, you take the necessary measures to protect your child’s oral health. If they are seeing a dentist as required, any health issues your child may have can then be detected by your dentist and receive timely treatment. There are some other risks to be aware of as a parent for your young child.
These include thumb sucking, cleft lips and palates, and dental trauma due to a fall or impact injury. They may also include oral thrush, mouth ulcers, tooth abscesses, cysts, chalky teeth, shark teeth, and other common and rare conditions. Your dentist will be able to recognise and treat these conditions or make a referral to a suitable specialist. As they grow older your child may also need a mouth guard for sports or a night guard to protect their teeth if they grind their teeth at night.
Another issue that can develop is dental anxiety when your child feels unnecessarily anxious about visiting the dentist. As a parent you can play an important role in helping your child to feel comfortable about the dentist, by talking about the dentist in positive terms, not using it as a threat, and bringing your child to the dentist regularly enough that they establish a healthy attitude. It can also help to attend a paediatric dentist that offers children’s dental services and is capable of making children feel comfortable in the clinic.
Eruption of permanent teeth
One of the next major milestones in a child’s dental development is when they begin to lose baby teeth and these are replaced with their permanent adult teeth. This usually starts when your child is around six years of age, and it is typically the lower front teeth that become wobbly first. You may recall these are also often the first teeth to emerge.
The process can be unnerving for a parent, particularly for the first few teeth, and your dentist will be available to advise on what is normal and what is not, providing reassurance or treatment as necessary. There are certainly risks to be managed during this process, including impacted teeth and that wobbly teeth not be in place for too long, as this may impact your child’s ability to brush their teeth well.
Teeth straightening and orthodontic treatment
Orthodontics is the field of dentistry that deals with the alignment of the teeth and jaws. Your dentist will be monitoring the alignment of your child’s teeth throughout their life, and this becomes especially pertinent when your child is aged 7 to 10, as it is around this age that the permanent teeth come through and most orthodontic treatment is carried out after this has occurred. At this age the jaws and teeth are easier to shift into different positions. However, braces can be used at any age, even in adulthood.
When examining your child’s teeth, your dentist will be looking for crooked teeth, crowded teeth, problematic biting patterns, jaw or teeth misalignment, and the early signs or risks of these issues emerging or developing.
Many parents and children think of the appearance of their teeth when they consider the need for orthodontic treatment, but there are actually plenty of other reasons to be motivated for this treatment method offered by your dentist. These include the heightened risk of tooth decay and gum disease from crowded teeth; difficulty eating or swallowing or even speaking properly; heightened risk of injury due to protruding teeth; increased wear and tear due to the abnormal way the teeth meet together; and your child’s self-confidence.
Your dentist will be able to walk you through the process of getting braces for your child, the costs, the necessary care while wearing braces, and other considerations.
The building block of oral health – check up and clean
To maintain your child’s oral health, it is typically recommended by your dentist that they have an appointment every six months. This regularity allows you to help your child to stay on top of their oral health, which can help to prevent any issues before they emerge or before they have become serious, and to maintain the health and appearance of your child’s teeth and gums.
Dental care is highly important and there is no reason that it has to be unreasonably expensive. There are a few initiatives to be aware of that may help to reduce the cost of dental appointments for your children.
Those who receive a government benefit such as Family Tax Benefits or Youth Allowance may be able to participate in the Child Dental Benefits Schedule. This allows your children to access a set amount of dental treatment within a two-year period for certain dental treatments including examinations and fillings.
The teenage years
As a child becomes older and more independent, it is more important than ever that they continue to maintain good oral health habits that protect their teeth. At this age, decay can become an issue due to complacency and resistance to maintaining a good oral hygiene routine. As they become more independent, they may be introduced to a new world of sugary foods, energy drinks, sports drinks, and even bad habits such as alcohol, vaping or smoking. As a parent, you can help by encouraging your child to eat healthy and to drink enough water, by buying them appropriate toothbrushes and toothpaste, and by arranging routine 6 monthly dental check-ups..
In the late teenage years, your child’s wisdom teeth may emerge. This may occur around 16 or 17 years of age, and there may be signs that it is occurring such as swelling or pain right at the back of jaw Some may not experience any pain related to their wisdom teeth but it is important for regular dental check ups and perhaps an Xray which may help with assessing whether they will become an issue if/when they decide to come through. Wisdom teeth often cannot emerge successfully into the mouth due to a lack of room and can cause various issues (including pain, jaw pressure, gum swelling, and impaction), and therefore they often need to be surgically removed.
Booking in at a children’s dentist
In summary, your child’s oral health is highly important to their overall well-being, and the health and appearance of their teeth and smile as they age. By taking a proactive approach as a parent, you can help to improve and maintain your child’s oral health, establish healthy habits, reduce dental anxiety, and in short, set them up for life.