Facts about pediatric dentistry

It’s important to teach children the proper way to take care of their teeth, but it’s just as important that they learn that going to the dentist can be FUN!

What is a pediatric dentist?

In the same way that a pediatrician is trained to meet a child’s medical needs, a pediatric dental specialist is uniquely qualified to protect your child’s oral health, using the most advanced techniques in our delightfully friendly treatment areas.

In addition to four years of dental school and four years of college study, pediatric dentists have two years of training in child psychology and comprehensive dental care for infants and children of all ages — including those with physical and mental disabilities.

They learn to deal with the behavioral aspects of children, how to make them feel comfortable, and to make the experience pleasant.

Pediatric dentists help children, teens, young adults, and those with special needs. They also follow the growth and development of your child’s mouth in terms of alignment of the teeth, and refer your child to the orthodontist at the appropriate time to manage concerns or problems early.

Why are baby teeth so important?

Primary (baby) teeth are important because they help with proper chewing and eating, help in speech development, and add to an attractive appearance — adding to the child’s self esteem. A child who can chew easily, speak clearly, and smile confidently is a happier child.

Healthy primary teeth allow normal development of the jawbones and muscles, as well as save space for the permanent (adult) teeth to come into place. If a baby tooth is lost too soon, permanent teeth can come in crooked. Decayed baby teeth can cause pain, abscesses and infections that can spread to the permanent teeth. Also, your child’s general health can be affected if diseased baby teeth are not treated. Remember, some primary molars are not replaced until ages 10 to 14, so they must last for years.

When should my child visit the dentist?

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a child’s first dental visit should be as soon as the first tooth erupts, or at least by the first birthday, whichever comes first.

A pediatric dentist is a specially trained dentist who has the experience and expertise to examine and treat children with all their needs in mind. It is recommended that children have routine well exams to check on developmental milestones for their teeth and gums, similar to well checks at the pediatrician’s office.

Lisa Lazzara is a board-certified pediatric dentist at Kids Dental of Staten Island [1839 North Railroad Ave. in Oakwood, (718) 667-5437].

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