What is a paediatric dentist?

A pediatric dentist is a specialized oral healthcare professional who has undergone three additional years of training focused on treating children. Their expertise lies in providing comprehensive dental care to infants, children, and adolescents throughout their teenage years.

When's the best time to bring my child for their first visit?

The ideal time for your child to visit a pediatric dentist is at around 12-15 months old or as soon as their front teeth start to erupt. During this visit, the dentist will conduct an examination to ensure the healthy development of the teeth and supporting soft tissues. They will also provide advice on preventive measures. This is also an opportunity for parents to discuss topics such as feeding practices, teething, and habits like pacifier use or thumb-sucking.

Early intervention by a pediatric dentist can help prevent the need for more complex procedures in the future. If your child has a medical condition that increases the risk of dental problems, it may be beneficial to see a pediatric dentist early on.

Additionally, dental trauma is common among children between the ages of 2 and 4, as they start walking and may be unsteady on their feet. If your child is familiar with the dental environment through regular visits, they are more likely to remain calm and less anxious if they ever require emergency dental care.

How often should my child go?

The general recommendation is for children to visit the dentist every 6 months, taking into account their changing diet, habits, and growth. However, your dentist may customize the frequency of your child’s visits based on their specific needs and risks.

Do young people get tooth decay?

Dental issues can arise at a young age, and the prevalence of dental decay is a concerning global trend. A recent publication by the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry revealed that 40% of 5-year-olds in the UK have experienced dental decay, primarily due to the abundance of refined and hidden sugars in our diets. Similarly, in the US, one in four children have tooth decay by the age of 4, and one in ten children experience tooth decay before the age of two.

In very young children, frequent bottle usage or on-demand breastfeeding is a common cause of dental decay. However, an early dental visit can help identify these issues and potentially prevent the need for future dental interventions.

Furthermore, certain illnesses or systemic disturbances can affect the development of primary teeth, leading to poor enamel formation and an increased susceptibility to decay. Therefore, an early dental examination, around the age of one, can help identify these problems and provide guidance on avoiding future dental complications.


Several factors determine whether your child needs a dental x-ray, such as the proximity of their teeth, presence of dental decay or existing fillings, which categorizes them as high-risk.

Fortunately, with the use of digital radiology, the radiation dose your child receives is minimal. We prioritize minimizing the number of x-rays taken. However, it is generally recommended that your child has two small x-rays for caries detection when there is no spacing between the back teeth. These x-rays are typically done at approximately one-year intervals, taking individual circumstances into account.

Is fluoride bad for my child?

Certainly not, as long as it is administered in the appropriate dosage. Giving fluoride to children in the correct amount is safe and beneficial for their dental health. However, it is not recommended to provide fluoride to children under the age of 6 months, as their kidneys are still developing. Once their teeth have erupted, typically after 6 months, it is recommended to use fluoridated toothpaste. Fluoride is essential in preventing tooth decay and plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy smile throughout your child’s lifetime. Your dentist can assist you in determining the correct amount of fluoride to use for your child.

My child has a cavity

Primary, or “baby,” teeth serve several important purposes. They contribute to clear speech and proper chewing function, as well as maintain the necessary space for the eruption of permanent teeth. While children begin losing their baby teeth around the age of 6, the primary molars typically remain until 10-12 years of age. If a cavity is left untreated, it can result in pain, gum and jaw infections, negative effects on overall health, and premature loss of teeth. This premature loss can lead to space loss and potential orthodontic issues in the future.

Neglecting to restore decayed teeth allows the bacteria responsible for tooth decay to multiply within the decayed areas, potentially spreading to other teeth and even affecting the permanent teeth as they emerge.

What are stainless steel crowns?

Preformed stainless steel crowns are highly beneficial in several situations. They are particularly effective for restoring severely damaged teeth, primary molars that have undergone pulp therapy, and primary or permanent molars with enamel of poor quality due to developmental issues. These crowns have a significantly longer lifespan compared to other restorative options for primary posterior teeth in such cases. They align closely with the ideal scenario of not requiring replacement before the natural shedding of the primary tooth.

What are fissure sealants?

Sealants are protective coatings made of clear or colored plastic that are applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, which are prone to decay. The most commonly sealed teeth are the permanent molars, which typically erupt around the age of 6. Despite regular tooth brushing, the grooves on the biting surfaces of these teeth can retain food and plaque, making them susceptible to decay. In fact, it has been observed that the first permanent molars are the most commonly decayed teeth in adults.

Sealants function by filling in the grooves and pits on the tooth surface, creating a smooth barrier that prevents food particles from becoming trapped and potentially causing cavities. The application process is quick and comfortable, and sealants can effectively protect the teeth for many years. They provide an additional layer of defense against decay in hard-to-clean areas, ensuring the long-term oral health of the sealed teeth.

My child sucks their thumb, what should i do?

Non-nutritive sucking habits, such as thumb or pacifier sucking, are common in children, with prevalence rates ranging from 40% to 95% below the age of 12 months and gradually decreasing with age. Most children naturally stop these habits by the age of 6.

However, there can be complications associated with prolonged sucking habits. Dental malocclusions, such as narrowing of the upper jaw and anterior open bite (a gap between the top and bottom front teeth), can occur. Callus formation on the thumb or fingers, irritant eczema, and paronychia (infection at the nail-skin junction) may also arise. Additionally, increased overjet (protrusion of the upper front teeth) can make the front teeth more susceptible to accidents and potential damage.

It’s important to note that anterior open bites and increased overjets resulting from sucking habits usually self-correct if the habit is discontinued before the age of 6.

Another consideration is the social impact of thumb-sucking. Experimental studies with children aged 7 or older have shown that thumb-suckers may be perceived as less intelligent, happy, attractive, likable, and desirable as playmates by their peers.

Thumb-sucking is considered a normal phenomenon during the first two years of life, and parents need not be overly concerned. At this stage, the habit should not be actively discouraged, but parents should ensure that their child is receiving adequate nursing and feeding.

If thumb-sucking persists between 3-4 years of age, it may be indicative of underlying emotional stress, such as boredom, tiredness, frustration, or unhappiness. In such cases, parents should focus on minimizing stress, providing a warm and caring environment, and offering sufficient stimulation to prevent boredom. Threats or punishment for thumb-sucking are not helpful. If you find your child sucking their thumb while asleep, gently remove the thumb, but expect that it will likely find its way back into the mouth. It’s important to remain relaxed and accepting of the situation.

For children aged 6 and older, behavior modification techniques can be effective in reducing or stopping thumb-sucking. Instead of criticizing the act of sucking, which may be interpreted as punishment, reward periods of not sucking with a hug, a treat, or the opportunity to watch a favorite TV program. Verbal explanations accompanying the rewards enhance their effectiveness. The duration of non-sucking periods should gradually increase before the reward is given to encourage true progress.

Another successful approach is to interrupt the habit while reading to the child at bedtime or allowing them to watch a favorite TV program. As soon as the thumb-sucking starts, temporarily stop the reading or turn off the TV, only to resume when the thumb is removed from the mouth. Again, verbal explanations are important for reinforcing the message. These approaches have shown greater efficacy compared to using bitter-tasting substances on the thumb.

For older children who are unable to stop thumb-sucking on their own, orthodontic thumb guards can be fitted to help break the habit. These devices provide physical barriers and aid in the cessation of sucking.

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