Did you know that tooth decay is up to four times more common than asthma among adolescents between the ages of 14 and 17? Going to a family dentist on a routine basis (about twice a year) can vastly reduce the odds of tooth decay and gum disease, which is the most common cause of tooth loss among adults.
However, in order to instill the best possible oral hygiene habits in your kids, it would be best to find a dentist for children. Around 80 percent of dentists are general practitioners, while the other 20 percent are dental specialists who limit their practices, such as a pediatric dentist.
What do pediatric dentists do? A dentist for children is dedicated to specifically working with your child from infancy through their teenage years. They perform general dentistry services such as teeth cleaning, making sure your child’s gums are healthy, and teaching them how to keep their mouth healthy.
Why see a pediatric dentist? Your child will begin to get their baby teeth by the time they are around six months old. By age six or seven, they will start to lose these teeth, which are replaced by permanent adult teeth.
Without general family dentistry services performed by a pediatric dentist, children are more at risk for tooth decay and other diseases which can be expensive to fix down the road.
Qualifications: Any dentist for children should have four years of dental school under their belt as well as two years of residency training specifically focused on infants, children, and teens. Your pediatric dentist will also be familiar with childhood psychology, which helps them to better interact with their patients. If you find a dentist that does not have these qualifications, it would be best to continue your dentist search.
- Oral health exams on a yearly basis
- Preventative care, such as fluoride treatments and offering a diet and nutrition plan
- Discussing with you on how to break your child’s bad oral habits (not brushing regularly, sucking their thumb, etc.)
- Assessing the need for future orthodontic care
- Fixing dental injuries, repairing teeth or gums
Finding a pediatric dentist: Your area will most likely have a pediatric dentist, though they may be located within a private practice. Other places to check would be dental schools (which will often offer less expensive services) and medical centers. Your child’s pediatrician can always recommend pediatric dentists in the area.
Final note: A dentist for children is generally the best person to see if your child is often impatient and uncooperative — they specialize in dealing with all types of personalities. A pediatric dentist will also be able to offer sleep dentistry to your child in order to keep them calm and relaxed during routine procedures.