As a pediatric dentist, we face many of the same problems as our colleagues who only treat adult patients. The human mouth is fundamentally the same, and it stands to reason that a pediatric dentist and a regular dentist would deal with many of the same challenges on a daily basis. The size of our patients’ mouths and teeth and the fact that they are still growing actually change the landscape quite a bit, which is why specialization is required. Working with children also poses a unique problem when it comes to communication. Adults, for the most part, are able to tell you where the problem is, what kind of discomfort they are having, and a rough estimation of when the issue began. This in turn allows us to quickly diagnose them. Children tend to be more vague and unsure about things, or otherwise provide an element of communication difficulty. This makes it more challenging to provide a diagnosis. Most children are also incredibly intimidated by the tools, chair, and white uniforms, and this challenge can be quite difficult to overcome without proper experience. We have learned how to communicate with our young patients in a way that allows them to relax, hence why they are our specialty.
As a pediatric dentist, we see many issues that are more common among children than adults. Children tend to have more fragile teeth and different eating habits. A common sighting is decay. Parents know this as a simple cavity, which is caused by bacteria. Bacteria exist naturally in the mouth and have a tendency to colonize on the teeth in the form of a thin film known as plaque. When you eat foods high in sugar or starch, the bacteria use them as food and secrete acid in the process. This acid is highly toxic for your teeth, causing the decay that eventually leads to a small hole, or cavity, in your tooth. The good news is that cavities are among the easiest things to clean and fill. For prevention, they can be easily avoided by providing your children with foods that are not high in sugar and starch. You can also help by teaching your kids great oral hygiene habits.
Among the other things we see as a pediatric dentist, are canker sores though these are easily treated with antimicrobial mouthwashes. Children are also prone to having sensitive teeth, just like adults. When the enamel is worn down, the tooth becomes highly sensitive to cold and hot, causing the child discomfort and irritation. Over time, if sensitive teeth are ignored, the root cause can lead to cracks in the enamel, receding of the teeth, exposure of the tooth interior, and significant gum diseases. It is always advisable to seek out a pediatric dentist if your child is complaining of sensitive teeth.