What is paediatric dentistry?
This is the branch of odontology responsible for preventing, diagnosing and treating oral problems in children aged between 6 months (when their milk teeth are starting to grow) and 12-14 years (when they have all of their permanent teeth). However, these ages are approximate since no two children are the same.
The main problems dealt with by paediatric dentistry are:
- Tooth decay: This can occur at any age, even during a child’s first year. It is more common in children with temporary and young permanent teeth. Preventing tooth decay is very important. Children must take good care of their teeth and receive appropriate amounts of fluoride (in Gipuzkoa the water is fluoridated). It is important not to give them food with high sugar content, not to put juice or fruit in their feeding bottles, and not to coat their dummies in sugar or honey.
- Traumatism: Children from the ages of 7 to 11 often suffer dental traumatism. If the teeth are still their baby teeth they are often dislocated, and if they are permanent they generally fracture (usually the front two incisors are those affected most). If a whole permanent tooth is lost, it can sometimes be re-implanted. You must therefore put the tooth into milk and head straight to your dentist with the child.
- Grinding: This is normal in children. However, they should be taken to the dentist if they complain of sore muscles or teeth.
Oral hygiene in children
Children must clean their teeth from a very young age. When they only have one tooth, use a little piece of gauze with no toothpaste.
A toothbrush can be used when more teeth start to grow in.
You must use special toothpaste for children, which has less fluoride. This is because most children don’t rinse their mouths properly and tend to swallow toothpaste.
Ideally, children should brush their teeth two or three times a day. At first, however, they will be unable to correctly brush their teeth and it is therefore up to the parents to help them do it properly (brushing up and down, in front and behind the teeth, with circular movements on the surface of the molars).
Children must visit the dentist at least once a year.