When someone thinks of going to the dentist, their earliest memories are typically from their childhood. Maybe they saw a general dentist, but it is most likely that their first encounters in the chair were with a pediatric dentist who specialized in ensuring they maintained optimal oral health and wellness as they grew.
The field of pediatric dentistry, also called children’s dentistry, is a specialty or separate area of study from regular dentistry. While professionals still learn the basic tools of the trade like how to perform exams and cleanings, members of the specialty also learn the ins and outs of how human mouths develop through the different stages of childhood.
Numerous associations like the American Dental Association (ADA), American Board of Pediatric Dentistry (ABPD), and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) all recommend that a child see their first dentist after either developing their first tooth or reaching one year of age. At this early stage, a kid’s dentist can identify potential problem areas soon enough that treatment can begin to ensure the patient grows up with teeth that are healthy, well-aligned, and able to bite properly.
Sometimes, children can even start to see the dentist as young as six months, depending on how the parent or guardian believes the mouth will develop. If one or both parents struggled with poor oral health or hygiene, then it is a good idea to start children early.
One of the biggest questions specialists in pediatric dentistry receive is, “What do you do?” or, more accurately, “What does your job entail?”
There is a misconception among the general population that young children don’t need to see a dentist because they haven’t developed tooth decay or gum disease. Some parents even refuse to bring their child to an office until the baby teeth have been lost and the adult teeth come in. However, this is a terrible practice.
Tooth decay and gum disease can strike at any age. A pediatric dentist offers regular exams and cleanings, but also works to identify potential problems like oral malocclusions, palates that are too large or too small, and overcrowding. They can then start a child down the path of treatment early, saving time, money, and often suffering on the part of the kid.
Besides these basics, the goal of the dentist is to ensure children associate visiting the dentist with positive memories. Many adults avoid going to the dentist because of fear or anxiety. If they had more positive experiences as kids, much of this anxiety could have been reduced through pleasant reinforcement.
Finally, a children’s dentist teaches both the kid and their parents proper oral hygiene. Many children struggle to brush properly and might avoid it altogether, leaving it the responsibility of the parents to brush teeth on a regular basis. The goal of education is to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, which can lead to future problems as a child develops.
The benefits of seeking a specialized dentist for children are obvious. First and foremost, the child receives tailor made care that suits their current level of oral health and development. Second, treatment works to fix problems early to save time, money, and potential pain in the long run. Third, it reinforces the idea that visiting the dentist or doctor is not a scary experience. Fourth and finally, it also reinforces good oral hygiene and teaches habits and nutrition that will preserve the teeth as the patient ages.
Locating a pediatric dentist near you doesn’t have to be difficult, even when seeking a children’s emergency dentist. Most offices will list on their website or similar materials if they specialize in the treatment of kids and whether or not emergency services are available. When looking for a pediatric dentist in New Britain, CT, consider contacting Family Dentistry of Central Connecticut. The office works with individuals of all ages, including children, and can provide lasting, long term care.