Pediatric Dentistry (Pedodontics)

Pediatric Dentistry is extremely important for children of developmental age to maintain a healthier oral and dental structure for the future, prevent potential dental problems, and support development. The field of pediatric dentistry includes treatment procedures aimed at keeping the deciduous and permanent teeth of children aged 0-13 years healthy and eliminating dental problems.

What is pedodontics?

Pedodontics is a subspecialty of dentistry that deals with monitoring and treating children’s dental, oral, and maxillofacial health from infancy onwards, including preventive measures.

Many different treatment methods can be mentioned within the scope of pedodontics. It is extremely important to control the milk teeth in this process and protect them with preventive treatments. Pedodontic treatments are very important to prevent all possible problems related to children’s dental health.

What treatments are performed by the pediatric dentists?

Many different applications can be performed as part of pediatric dental treatments. Common treatment methods used as part of pediatric dentistry:

  • Oral and dental care and nutritional recommendations
  • Pediatric Dentures
  • Tooth extraction
  • Treatments for dental traumas
  • Endodontic Treatments
  • Restorative treatments of deciduous and permanent teeth
  • Preventive measures against caries (fissure sealing, fluoride gel, etc.)
  • Prevention of oral habits (finger sucking, nail-biting, etc.)
  • Placeholders
  • The most important applications in pedodontics are those that serve to protect and prevent caries.

At what age does pediatric dentistry  treat patients?

The field of pediatric dentistry includes treatment procedures aimed at keeping the deciduous and permanent teeth of children aged 0-13 years healthy and eliminating dental problems.

What are the preventive applications applied to children teeth?

The main goal of pediatric dentistry treatments is to prevent dental problems from developing. Preventive dentistry starts with making children and their families aware of their eating habits and oral and dental care.

Fissure sealant is one of the best-known caries prevention measures. On the other hand, the application of fluoride can be counted among the specific treatments that can prevent caries.

What do fissure sealants and fluorine applications do?

Fissure sealant is used to close the cavities on the surface of permanent teeth susceptible to caries, thus preventing bacteria from settling in this area. Fissure sealant can maintain dental health for longer, as caries cannot penetrate the area covered with a liquid filling material. Children treated with fissure sealants require check-ups at least every six months.

Fluorine application, a preventive dental treatment method similar to fissure sealant, is based on strengthening the tooth structure. Fluoride strengthens the enamel and protects the tooth from acid attacks. In this way, the formation of caries is largely prevented. These methods, applied only by a specialist dentist, have gained an important place within the scope of pedodontics.

When should children have their first dental examination?

The first dental examination in children is recommended between 6 months and one year of age when the teeth erupt. This early examination aims to create awareness of oral and dental health in families and children and to prevent tooth decay with proper care and protection.

When do children’s teeth erupt?

Baby teeth start erupting around six months of age. The eruption of baby teeth is complete by about three years of age, and children have 20 baby teeth in their mouths. Milk teeth are more susceptible to wear and decay due to their structural characteristics. Beginning at age 6, children’s permanent teeth erupt. During this time, the existing decay in the primary teeth negatively affects the health of the newly erupted permanent teeth. The permanent teeth do not reach the number of adult teeth until the age of 12-13.

How should you care for your baby’s teeth? What is baby bottle tooth decay?

  • Do not put your baby to sleep by breastfeeding.
  • Never put your baby to sleep with a bottle.
  • Do not put the bottle in your mouth to check its temperature.
  • Food containing sugar can cause tooth decay if given frequently.
  • Stop using baby bottles after age one and get your child used to drinking liquid from a glass.
  • Brush your child’s teeth only with a toothbrush. Help your child with oral care until all milk teeth have erupted (2.5-3 years old).

How common is tooth decay in children, and what are the causes?

The incidence of caries in children is between 80-90%. The main reasons for the development of caries are bad eating habits and lack of attention to oral hygiene. Caries usually develops when foods containing carbohydrates (sugar, honey, etc.) remain on the tooth surface for a long time. The bacteria in the mouth feed on these food residues, and acid is produced with the help of these microorganisms. This acidic environment leads to the destruction of the tooth structure and the development of caries.

What should be done to reduce caries in children?

  • Ensure that children’s teeth are brushed in the morning and before bedtime.
  • Limiting the use of bottles and pacifiers.
  • Preventing bacterial transmission from mother to child.
  • Early visit to the pediatrician and application of fissure sealant.
  • Fluoride should be given to children, but it should be remembered that excess fluoride is harmful, and the dentist’s recommendations should be followed.
  • Avoiding frequent consumption of carbohydrate foods (sugar, honey, etc.).

Why are milk teeth important?

There is sometimes a false belief in society that baby teeth are unnecessary. The main reason for this misconception is that milk teeth fall out and are replaced by permanent teeth. Milk teeth perform many tasks while they are in the mouth. The milk teeth play an important role in nutrition during the child’s most active period of growth and development. During this time of learning to speak, it is also very important that they pronounce words correctly. Another task of the milk teeth is to hold the permanent teeth in place and ensure they erupt correctly. They have a natural placeholder function. This is also very important for preventing orthodontic problems that may occur in the future.

What are the symptoms of teething?

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Increase in the amount of saliva
  • Pain and fever
  • Increased instinct to bite things
  • Anorexia
  • How can problems seen during teething be reduced?
  • Finger massage can be applied to the gums.
  • Cold carrots, cold bananas or toys such as rubber teeth rings can be used to keep the baby busy.
  • Tooth gels can also be used after consultation with the doctor.
  • If these measures do not provide relief, you can consult your doctor and use a painkiller containing paracetamol.

Is the risk of cariessame for milk teeth and permanent teeth?

Milk teeth are more susceptible to wear and decay due to their structural characteristics. Because children’s consumption of sweet and carbohydrate foods, which carry a high risk of tooth decay, is higher than adults, caring for milk teeth is much more important.

My child’s permanent teeth have erupted in the back/front of the tooth before the milk teeth fall out. What should I do?

This condition is usually seen in incisors and canines. Milk teeth may need to be extracted. Especially in cases where the upper canines erupt from the front and top, placing the permanent tooth in the desired position may be necessary with orthodontic treatment.

What precautions should be taken if the deciduous tooth must be extracted prematurely? What is a Placeholder?

One of the most important functions of the milk teeth is to protect the permanent teeth to be erupted and ensure their correct position. Sometimes the milk tooth has to be extracted if it cannot be treated, for example, if it has an advanced infection. When the milk teeth are extracted, the surrounding teeth shift into this gap, and tooth alignment can be disturbed. To prevent tooth misalignment and avoid orthodontic problems, a placeholder is used. Depending on the position of the extracted tooth in the mouth and the number of extracted teeth, your pediatric dentist will place the appropriate placeholder for your child.

My child has gaps in the upper teeth. Does that mean he will have crowded permanent teeth in the future?

Milk teeth are structurally spaced apart. Due to the difference in size between the permanent and primary teeth, these gaps ensure that the permanent teeth have sufficient space during an eruption. However, this does not mean that there will be orthodontic problems.

In what situations do teeth need to be extracted in children?

If there is infection and loss of material that cannot be treated with a filling or root canal, extraction of the milk tooth may be necessary. If the infections are deep enough to damage the permanent tooth germ under the milk tooth, extraction of the milk tooth may be recommended.

Can root canal treatment be performed on children? Should root canal treatment be performed on milk teeth?

Milk teeth serve as guideposts to permanent teeth. To avoid causing orthodontic problems, the milk tooth must be kept in the mouth as long as it does not damage the permanent tooth erupting from below. If an infection has occurred or the tooth has been damaged by trauma, the milk teeth should be kept in the mouth with root canal treatment. Contrary to popular belief, milk teeth are rooted just like permanent teeth. Root canal treatment in children takes much less time and is easier than expected.

Will root canal treatment of milk teeth damage  the permanent teeth underneath?

Since milk teeth are independent of the underlying permanent teeth, their treatment can be performed independently of the underlying permanent teeth.

Do I have to give fluoride tablets to my child?

Today, we prefer to apply fluoride locally to children’s teeth rather than administering it systemically (to the whole body). Fluoride tablets are an application that should not be given to everyone but should be based on the individual’s caries risk. Your pediatric dentist should decide on this.

Will thumb sucking or long-term pacifier use affect my child’s teeth?

Thumb sucking can lead to malocclusions of the deciduous and permanent teeth, shifting of the upper teeth forward and the lower teeth backward, formation of a V-shaped dental arch, incompatibility of the lower upper jaw, the so-called “open bite,” formation of a deep palate, speech disorders and esthetic problems. Collaboration between the pediatrician, orthodontist, and educator may be necessary to prevent this habit, which can cause orthodontic and orthopedic problems. Long-term pacifier use can also cause permanent oral and dental disorders, speech and pronunciation disorders, and middle ear infections. Pacifier use should be discontinued no later than age 2.

When should I have the first orthodontic treatment to prevent crowding my child’s teeth?

The first orthodontic check-ups should be performed at age 7-8 when permanent teeth erupt. The fact that the child is examined during this period does not mean that treatment should be started immediately at this age. In this way, potential problems can be detected at an early stage. Early diagnosis increases the success of orthodontic treatment, as with any other treatment.