Pure Pediatric Dentistry: Dental Care for Children
In and around San Luis Obispo County, pediatric dentists are becoming more important than ever.
There are two key concerns when it comes to the dental health of school-age children (ages three to eleven). Our pediatric dentists, assistants, and staff understand the importance of proper dental care for pre-school, kindergarten, and elementary and middle school children. We provide age-specific care for school-age children throughout San Luis Obispo County, including Atascadero, Paso Robles, and Templeton.
First, get regular dental checkups for your child. Even children with apparently clean teeth who don’t seem to eat much sugar often develop small cavities. Since the “nerve” in baby teeth is only millimeters from the outside surface, the decay can often reach this critical area before anyone can visually see the cavity. Regular check ups keep dental work simple for children and less expensive for parents.
The second important thing to remember is that the six-year molars are permanent teeth. This fact is often overlooked because no baby teeth are lost when the six-year molars come through the gums. They are the first permanent teeth to erupt, the largest, and the most important of all the permanent teeth.
Regular dental visits
By the age of three, your child should be visiting a pediatric dentist regularly to evaluate and improve your preventive program. Six-month check ups are the best for most children. However, is cost is a concern, less frequent check ups with increased parent home care can reduce your cost without sacrificing your child’s dental health. In fact, such a program can actually improve your child’s dental health.
Coming to the dentist at an early age also helps familiarize your child coming to the dentist. Sometimes very small crevices are found in apparently healthy teeth, which can predispose teeth to cavities. Preventive measures can then be recommended. When children are 30 months or younger we usually do their exams in the parent’s lap. We sit in a knee-to-knee position so that the child can be leaned back onto the dentist’s knees. This keeps the child connected to the parent for reassurance.
Persistent thumb sucking
At three years of age most children have already given up their pacifiers, but thumb and finger habits can continue longer. The first step is to evaluate whether the habit is causing a significant problem. If the change in tooth position or in the “bite” is small, there is no need to give much attention to the habit. But if there is cross bite, anterior open bite, or protruding incisors, we should consider a strategy to end the habit. The most effective strategies are individually designed by the pediatric dentist-parent team.
Brushing and flossing
Use a small, soft toothbrush of the appropriate size for your child's age and mouth size. Place the bristles squarely against the teeth at the gum line, and use just enough pressure to cause a slight whitening of the gums. Gently brush in a circular pattern. Follow the same path around the mouth each time to cover all the outside, inside and chewing surfaces. It should take 1 1/2 to 2 minutes to brush a child's teeth.
The fluoride levels in the water vary widely. Your pediatrician and your pediatric dentist will tell you if your toddler needs extra fluoride. You must be sure to tell the doctors if your child is substituting bottled water or if you are putting your tap water through a reserve osmosis (RO) filter.
These coatings are called pit and fissure sealants and they are very effective in preventing decay in the natural defects of the teeth, mostly on the chewing surfaces. Sealants are primarily recommended for the permanent molars.
Accidents and injuries
Since most children don’t get their permanent upper teeth until seven years of age, serious accidents prior to that time are rare. But accidents to baby teeth should be evaluated by a pediatric dentist if teeth are moved out of position or are broken severely enough to expose the nerve. If you are in doubt, please call us.
If you need more information about a kids' dentist in the San Luis Obispo area, give us a call today!