FAQs – Paedodontics & Preventive Dentistry

Q.1 What is tooth decay/Dental caries?

A: Dental caries is an infectious disease process, usually bacterial in origin that causes tooth decay or “cavities.” Certain types of bacteria are present in our mouths. When these bacteria come into contact with sugary foods, acids are produced. These acids attack the enamel on the exterior of the teeth, eventually demineralizing the enamel, dentin and cementum. This results in the formation of holes or cavities. If untreated, caries can lead to severe pain, local infection, tooth loss, and even serious systemic infections.

Q.2 When should a child be first brought to a dental clinic for check  up?

A: First dental visit is recommended as soon as the first tooth erupts into the mouth; to allow the dentist to examine the child, provide dietary and preventive information.

Q.3 How is a pediatric dentist different from other dentists?

A: Pediatric Dentists have specialized training in treating children. They have several years of additional training and have gained extensive experience in treating infants, children, and adolescents. Pediatric dentists enjoy working with children and the dental office environment is also according to the liking of children. Office is decorated with child friendly posters and pictures and activities, which are of interest.

Q.4 Is it important to care for child’s baby teeth since they are replaced by permanent teeth anyway?

A: Many parents overlook the importance of their child’s teeth, especially their baby teeth (also called primary teeth). Primary teeth apart from helping in chewing, biting, speech development, development of jaw bones, are also instrumental in enhancing the health of permanent teeth. The primary teeth guide the permanent teeth into position and allow normal development of the jaw bone and muscles. Because primary teeth hold space for their successors, early loss or damage can severely affect the position of the permanent teeth. Moreover they also let the child to smile with confidence.

Q.5 Which is the best toothpaste for children and how much should it be used?

A: While choosing toothpaste, one must ensure Indian Dental Association (IDA) seal of acceptance to ensure its safety and effectiveness. Use a small amount of toothpaste – about the size of a green pea. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.

Q.6 What is bottle feeding decay and how can we prevent it?

A: Bottle feeding decay is a unique pattern of dental decay in very young children (till 5 years) due to prolonged and improper feeding habits. Various causes of decay are: prolonged bottle feeding, use of sweet syrups, sweetened pacifiers, chocolate and sweet.

Prevention and management:

i. Infants should not be put to sleep with the bottle.
ii. Parents should be encouraged to have infants drink from a cup; infants should be weaned from the bottle at 12-24 months of age.
iii. Oral hygiene measures should be implemented by the time of eruption of first primary tooth.
iv. An oral health consultation visit within 6 months of the eruption of first primary tooth is recommended.

Q.7 How can dental injuries be prevented during sporting events?

A: Soft plastic mouthguards, helmets and face masks can be used to protect teeth, lips, cheek and gums from sport related injuries. But if the injury occurs, immediately consult a pediatric dentist.

Q.8 Are dental X-rays safe?

A: Dental X-rays are much more safer these days as pediatric dentists try to limit the amount of radiation exposure to children wit the meticulous use of lead aprons, thyroid collars, high-speed film and efficient X-ray machines.

Q.9 Is thumbsucking habit harmful for child’s dentition?

A: Yes thumbsucking along with tounge thrusting, mouth breathing, lip biting are harmful habits for a developing dentition. Most children stop thumbsucking on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers past the age of three, pediatric dentist should be consulted.

Q.10 How can dental decay be prevented beforehand?

A: Maintaining proper oral hygiene and limiting the servings of sugars are the most important preventive measures. Other clinical measures such as the use of fluoride treatment and dental sealants are also beneficiary. Dental sealants act by blocking the fissures on the chewing surfaces of teeth, thereby making them self-cleansing. This prevents the food from sticking onto the tooth surface. Fluoride treatment provided by pediatric dentists helps by re-mineralizing the tooth surface.

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