By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Pediatric dentistry is a branch of dentistry that deals with the examination and management of dental health in children.
Dental procedures are generally perceived as intimidating and painful experiences that most would like to avoid, especially among children. However, it is vital that children have their milk teeth checked regularly by pediatric dentists for evidence of caries and tooth decay.
Some of the conditions most likely to be seen by pediatric dentists include:
Pediatric dentists are consulted if teething is delayed in an infant. The development of the teeth and jaws needs to be appropriate to allow the infant to be suitably weaned onto solid foods. Good and timely teeth eruption is also important in the development of appropriate speech.
Malocclusion or misaligned teeth
A malocclusion describes when the teeth of the upper and lower jaws do not meet when the jaws are closed together. This can create problems with eating or speaking. The malocclusion may cause may pain on biting or injuries to the insides of the mouth, gums and tongue. Pediatric dentists are responsible for addressing the problem of poorly aligned teeth using braces.
Dental caries and tooth decay
Despite the fact that milk teeth are eventually shed to be replaced by permanent teeth, it is still important that these teeth are well maintained. Children have an increased likelihood of developing tooth decay and therefore cavities that can expose the inner dental pulp to bacteria and cause toothaches. Children tend to be more susceptible to dental plaque and tooth decay because they are more likely to eat sugary, sticky foods and not maintain their dental hygiene as well as older people might. Therefore, pediatric dentists commonly encounter tooth decay.
Gingivitis and dental abscesses are just as likely to occur in children as in adults.
Regular dental health checkups along with the maintenance of good oral hygiene through daily brushing and flossing of the teeth should help children maintain a healthy set of teeth for life.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc
Last Updated: Oct 24, 2013