Pediatric Dentistry

The care and maintenance of children's teeth


By Sarah Leavitt, Medical Research EditorLast modified: October 12, 2011



Pediatric Dentistry

Protecting children's teeth starts before the first milk tooth appears. Children's gums should be cleaned using a soft cloth after every feed to prevent bacterial build-up. When the child advances to solid food, they should brush their teeth twice daily using a pea sized amount of toothpaste on a soft bristled brush. Parents should avoid giving children sugary drinks or fruit juices while being bottle fed to avoid baby-bottle-tooth-decay.  


Teething Babies

When a babies teeth start to erupt through the jaw the baby will be irritable. Teething usually occurs between the ages of 6-24months. Below are tips recommended by pediatric dentists to ease the pain of teething:

  • Rub gums with an antibacterial teething ointment
  • Allow the baby to suck on a cold teething ring or wet towel
  • Massage the gums around the tooth  
  • Parent's are advised to discourage thumb sucking in children which can lead to crooked teeth and prevent the gums developing correctly.

Orthodontics For Kids

Children often require orthodontic treatment as their gums develop. Common orthodontic problems in children are mis-positioning of teeth that causes problems with the child's' bite; especially common is the top set of teeth not aligning correctly with the bottom teeth or the jaw being too crowded.

As children's' baby teeth fall out (usually between the ages of 5-10), adult teeth are waiting underneath to replace them.  Many children will require tooth extraction to make more room in the gum as the adult teeth grow into the gum. Pediatric dentists often recommend braces for children to train teeth into correct alignment as the adult teeth settle into position.

It is not uncommon for babies to be born with teeth. These teeth are known as neonatal teeth and are not harmful to the future dental health of a child, however it is recommended that dentists remove these teeth to prevent children swallowing them if they come loose.  

Cavities In Children's Teeth

Children often require dental filings for tooth cavities. A child dental filling is identical to a dental filling in an adult. If the filling is in the milk tooth, the adult tooth underneath will be undamaged. If the tooth cavity is advanced, a root canal filling may be recommended to prevent damage to the root and nerve of the baby tooth which could harm the replacement adult tooth growing in the gum underneath.

Children's Dental Exams

Pediatric dentists recommend children have their first dental check at the age of one year, around the time milk teeth start appearing in the gum. Children's dental appointments include x-rays to ensure teeth are growing properly underneath the gum and there no underlying problems, soft cleaning to remove any plaque and bacteria build up, and checks for signs of early tooth cavities.












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