This is the branch of dentistry which treats children and takes care of their oral health from birth to adolescence. Nowadays early childhood dental caries an infectious disease is spreading like an epidemic. It is considered to be 5 times more common than asthma in children. According to the American Association of Paediatric Dentists every child should be taken to the dentist as soon as the first tooth erupts in the mouth or no later than the first birthday.
This serves two main purpose:It prevents any dental problems in the future as a thorough dental checkup is carried out by the dentist and it also gets the child used to the dental office or coming to the dentist. This reduces apprehension and fear in the child’s mind regarding the dentist and dental treatments.
Various treatments carried out under this category are:
- Oral health exam and caries risk assessment for the child.
- Preventive oral care regimen including scaling or cleaning and Fluoride therapy in patients with high caries risk.
- Interception of oral habits like thumb sucking, tongue thrust ect and providing habit breaking appliances.
- Early orthodontic assessment of teeth for children and providing removable appliances to enhance fixed orthodontic treatment.
- Sealing pits and grooves on milk and permanent teeth to prevent caries or dental decay.
- Removal of caries and using fluoride releasing materials.
- Root canal therapies for children known as pulpotomy or pulpectomy. This is very essential in order to prevent spread of infection especially in developing permanent teeth buds .
- Gum care and treatment of soft tissue conditions like mucocele, oral ulcers, hypertrophic gingival growth. Also care of periodontal health and treating periodontal conditions.
- Oral surgical treatments including all types of extractions, cyst enucleation ect
- Treatment of oral trauma and injuries.
Teaching and maintaining good oral hygiene at home from an early age is of utmost importance. children’s teeth should be brushed and cleaned immediately after eruption. A soft bristled toothbrush with a small head should be used. Also until the child learns to rinse out a non-fluoridated toothpaste should be used. Incorporating these basic oral hygiene habits in the child’s routine maintains the future oral health.
There are various filling materials available for children which are medicated fillings. These are fluoride releasing agents which protect the teeth and help in remineralisation. These materials also prevent further decay or caries in teeth. Also topical fluoride therapy in the form of gels, foam, varnish or coating is a very good preventive therapy in children.
Also children are highly prone to dental trauma and other soft tissue injury. After such an accident it is of utmost importance that the child is shown to a dentist to control and assess the injury. This also prevents further damage. If a child loses a tooth it should be immediately cleaned and stored in a suitable medium like saliva, milk or coconut water.