Dental Exams and What to Expect
Pedodontics deals with the treatment of children's teeth, and starting dental care early for your child means that his primary teeth will be protected. These primary teeth are also called baby teeth and are used for chewing and eating, guiding permanent teeth into the right position and allowing jaw bones and muscles to grow normally. Your child's teeth may begin to erupt from the gums as early as 4 months. All 20 primary teeth usually appear by age 3. Permanent teeth begin appearing around age 6.
The dentist does not have to be a scary place for your child. The pediatric dental specialists at East Tennessee Children's Hospital are trained to work just with children, so they know how to talk to your child about his teeth and the procedures to be done. Before you come to the dentist, don't use words like needle, shot or hurt.
These words may cause fear that will make your child more nervous. You can be an example by taking care of your own teeth and not being afraid to visit the dentist.
Parents can go with their child during the first dental exam. If your child is old enough, he can choose to go by himself at later visits. The staff hopes to build positive, lasting relationships with the patients.
There are bright lights in the dentist's office, so children are provided sunglasses to wear during treatment.
Beyond regular check-ups, pediatric dentists and their staff take radiographs, or X-rays, or your child's mouth at least once a year. On the X-ray, they can see cavities, bone diseases or plan for braces or retainers. These X-rays take place in the office and are not dangerous to your child.
The dentist can help if your child is grinding his teeth at night, sucking his thumb or has cavities. These problems often have simple solutions that do not require much intervention from the dentist. The staff will teach children and parents how to decrease cavities and damage to teeth. This advice includes simple tips like drinking water instead of juice and decreasing candy intake.
Early Treatment: Orthodontia
Your dentist may begin talking to you about orthodontia when your child is as young as 2 years old. Early treatment can be done to strengthen dental arches and combat damaging habits like thumb sucking. These treatments can eliminate the need for future orthodontic treatment for your child. If your child is having issues later in his life, the dentist can guide you through orthodontia in the teenage years. This process will be done when all of the permanent teeth are in and the molars are established.
Sometimes, you'll need more urgent care for your child's teeth. These situations include:
- Severe toothaches
- Knocked-out permanent tooth
- Chipped or fractured permanent tooth
- Severe blow to the head
- Possible broken or fractured jaw
These issues need immediate attention in the emergency room. Pediatric dentists can help you to save knocked-out or chipped teeth, but you must get to the emergency room quickly.
If your child needs a pediatric dentist, find a specialist on the Children's Hospital dental staff and schedule an appointment today. In addition to routine visits, your child's dentist will perform any dental surgeries your child may need at East Tennessee Children's Hospital.