A perfect smile: All you need to know about paediatric dentistry
From cavities to gingivitis, Dr Premila Naidu, founder and director, Small Bites, lists the common dental problems that children suffer from and the treatments they can avail. Small Bites is an exclusive dental care clinic for kids in Bengaluru with child-themed consultation rooms, toys and play area.
What are the common dental problems in children?
A: Typically, most children suffer from:
- Cavities: Tooth decay, more commonly called cavities, are caused by bacteria in foods such as milk, soda, raisins, candies, sweets etc. The bacteria reacts with the acid in the mouth to cause a substance called plaque, which deposits on the teeth. If not brushed properly, the plaque leads to tooth decay or cavities.
- Tooth Sensitivity: Tooth sensitivity in children occurs due to several factors such as newly erupted teeth, acid erosion, teeth grinding or bruxism etc. It is essential to seek medical help in case of tooth sensitivity. It can be uncomfortable and distracting for a child and can affect their focus and routine.
- Paediatric gingivitis and gum disease: This disease is quite common among children and occurs due to poor oral hygiene. Gingivitis is a precursor to gum disease and involves pain in gums, gum recession and swelling.
- Crooked teeth: Permanent teeth rarely erupt properly and in the correct orientation among children. This can result in crooked teeth, leading to a variety of problems like gum disease as crooked teeth lead to overcrowding of teeth in the mouth that can prevent proper brushing. Crooked teeth can also arise due to excessive thumb sucking beyond a certain age.
- Dental emergencies: Children, while playing sports, rough-housing with siblings, or falling while riding a bicycle, tend to lead dental-related accidents. These can be teeth chipping, breaking or cracking.
How young are your patients?
A: We treat infants, toddlers and young adults up to the age of 14 years. The youngest patient we have treated is a newborn with a natal tooth. This tooth had to be removed as it was causing problems with feeding.
We offer treatments from general check-ups to complex treatments.
General check-ups include early diagnosis and risk assessment related to oral health. We offer advice on prevention of cavities, always better than restoration, which is also provided here. We offer consultation on pulpectomy, crowns, trauma prevention and management, braces and extraction. Apart from that, we also offer tooth extraction services and provide advice on how to maintain space in the mouth during the eruption of permanent teeth, cosmetic treatments and habit-breaking appliance.
How early can children go for corrective treatments like braces?
A: Although there is no exact age when a child should get braces, it is recommended that children visit an orthodontist for the first time no later than age seven. Corrective treatment like braces is one way of ensuring proper alignment and straightening of permanent teeth when they start erupting. However, the time when permanent teeth start erupting is when it is considered ideal to be going in for corrective treatment like braces. If one is considering braces for their children, it is best to go in for advice from an orthodontist as early as possible and do the necessary checks and detect any abnormalities.
Some habit-breaking braces are given as young as four years to help the jaw grow better.
Are there any specific products that the children should be using?
A: The products that can be specifically used by children are:
- Fluoride-free paste for babies and once they can spit out, a mild fluoride paste is advised.
- A small head brush with soft bristles is good. An electrical brush is a better option.
Is paediatric dental care and treatment tougher than adult dental care?
A: Yes, paediatric dentistry is difficult compared to adult dental care. This is because of the inability of the child to explain the problem they are facing and understand the severity of the situation. Hence, children need to be imbibed with the notion of appropriate dental care from their childhood.