Paediatric dentistry

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Paediatric dentistry
Child Dental Medicine

Area of dental medicine that treats children and teenagers up to 15 years of age.

Treatments for children vary depending on the phase of growth; it is important to teach both them and their parents about oral hygiene and the use of preventive measures: crack sealants and topical fluoride applications.

Crack sealants act like a varnish that make the tooth surface smooth and without spots where bacteria normally start to form cavities.

Topical fluoride applications remineralise the start of cavities and make teeth stronger.

Paediatric dentistry

 


The aim of preventive measures is to prevent cavities from appearing. The future set of teeth of children depends on controlling cavities and bacterial flora.

Baby teeth - Paediatric dentistry
Baby teeth - Guidance for parents

Health promotion, until very recently thought of as a health service, is now recognised as a social activity synonymous with quality of life, which must not only be encouraged and facilitated by the activities of health professionals, but also be strategies of government institutions and by activities run by the community and individuals (WHO, 1997).



Paediatric dentistry - boys

 Paediatric dentistry - girls

As is the case with all health sciences, dentistry currently focuses on education, promotion and prevention; this philosophy is of fundamental importance, particularly when children are at stake.

Cavities and gum disease are the most common dental problems. They frequently put in an appearance during childhood and their consequences can be physically, emotionally and socially devastating. While serious, these conditions can be easily prevented by adopting suitable eating and oral hygiene habits, but the success of these activities depends on the active participation of parents, children and health professionals.

It should be kept in mind that health promotion depends on the participation of a well informed population. Due to the fact that most parents are unaware that very young children can also develop severe oral problems, my intention in this essay is to offer readers some necessary guidance for staying healthy and preventing these sorts of conditions in children.

Deciduous teeth, also known as baby teeth, start to form around the sixth week of pregnancy. Tooth eruption begins from the age of six months onwards and the first teeth to emerge are generally the lower incisors.

The deciduous teeth eruption process is general complete by approximately thirty months old, and children have 20 teeth in their mouth - that is eight incisors, four canines and eight molars.

As the teeth formation and eruption process is complex and starts during pregnancy, preventive measures must be taken even before the baby is born. During pregnancy, parents must receive instruction and be included in a preventive dentistry programme that places emphasis on the importance of acquiring good eating and oral hygiene habits, and how these habits will favour the oral health of their children.

During breastfeeding, parents are recommended to clean the baby’s mouth cavity as soon as the first tooth appears, during special finger covers, toothbrushes for babies, or even a damp gauze. In many children, the eruption of deciduous teeth is preceded by an increase in salivation and irritability during the day. During this period, thumb sucking or gum rubbing habits may intensify, or children may lose their appetite or suffer changes in their gums.

During breastfeeding, parents are recommended to clean the baby’s mouth cavity as soon as the first tooth appears, during special finger covers, toothbrushes for babies, or even a damp gauze. In many children, the eruption of deciduous teeth is preceded by an increase in salivation and irritability during the day. During this period, thumb sucking or gum rubbing habits may intensify, or children may lose their appetite or suffer changes in their gums.



Paediatric dentistry - boys


Toothpastes for babies and children up to 7 years old are not the same as those used by adults. They should have a milder flavour with pleasant aromas and an appropriate amount of fluoride; toothpastes for children under 2 should have no more than 250 ppm (parts per million) of fluoride. Always check on the back of the package, as children swallow the toothpaste and excess fluoride harms tooth development; between 2 and 7 years old, toothpaste should contain less than 500 ppm of fluoride; fluoride content may be as much as 1500 ppm between 7 and 12 years old; this is generally the highest amount of fluoride in toothpastes sold by major retailers.


Paediatric dentistry - toothbrush

One of the ways to encourage children to brush their teeth is by brushing your teeth with the child on your lap. If they want to, you should let them pick up the brush and help you brush your teeth. This will make them want to imitate you and let you brush their teeth.

Until children have developed the motor skills necessary to use toothbrushes, it is essential for parents to supervise this activity and take responsibility for brushing their children’s teeth. As children acquire manual skills, this responsibility may be transferred to them, but the task must be carried out by an adult until a dentist has observed this skill.

Professionals should tell parents about teeth cleaning methods, about dental floss usage techniques and about the use of fluoride and bacterial plaque developing agents. As a result, when the child attempts to remove plaque, parents will be able to encourage learning through the use of developing substances, which show the child the areas where oral hygiene needs to be improved.



It is "...clearly in the hands of parents to prevent cavities in children: experience will show its usefulness, habits will become natural and parents will feel that all the work has been enormously rewarding"
(SANOUDOS; CHRISTEN, 1999).


However, the success of these prevention programmes is closely related to the attitude of dentistry team members, who should create a pleasant environment for both children and parents and show an interest in, and respect for the autonomy and individual nature of the family group.

Paediatric dentistry - laughing gas
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