Pedodontics (Pediatric Dentistry)
Since the formation of milk teeth is enabled by the calcium in the mother's body during pregnancy, the mother should pay attention to getting enough calcium, phosphorus and other minerals during pregnancy. If the mother does not get enough calcium during pregnancy, the calcium needed by the baby is met from the bones in the mother's body. In this period, the mother's avoidance of harmful drugs as well as a balanced diet is directly proportional to the dental health of the baby, because the baby's teeth begin to form in the 3rd month. Although the first teeth differ from baby to baby, they are usually seen as two teeth in the middle of the lower jaw when they are 6 months old. Teeth that erupt late are more robust/resistant than teeth that erupt early as they continue to use the fluoride in the body. Central teeth (central incisors) are smaller, whiter and more spaced compared to other teeth.
Are milk teeth important?
20 milk teeth, which start to erupt during infancy and help the child’s digestion with processes such as biting, chewing and crushing until the age of 6-7, affect the development of the face and jaw. It preserves the place of permanent teeth and prepares the necessary foundation for them before they come. Premature loss of any milk tooth causes neighboring teeth to slide towards this cavity and leads to crowding in the mouth.
Teeth Cleaning in Childhood
It is not possible to expect successful dental and oral cleaning from children in the early period. Parents have a very serious duty here. Cleaning should strart after the first teeth begin to appear in the baby’s mouth (6-8 months). After each feeding, the teeth are wiped with a clean cloth or gauze bandage. It is necessary to clean babies’ teeth with a small-headed toothbrush consisting of flat, soft and nylon bristles starting from the age of 1-1.5. A small amount of toothpaste can be used on the brush after the age of 2.5. However, it should never be swallowed.
Children’s bad habits negatively affect the teeth structure
Nail biting is a habit that is observed generally from the age of 2 years. This habit can cause lateral shifting of the teeth in the front of the mouth and wear on tooth in the direction of bite.
The sucking function is very strong in newborn babies. Generally the finger sucking habit should disappear at 2 years of age. However, if the child is over the age of 2 and the habit of sucking fingers or pacifiers continues, neither the jaw or the teeth structure develop. If the child does not give up these habits until the age of 4-5, a dentist must be consulted.
Teeth grinding (bruxism):
Although the reason why children grind their teeth during sleep and throughout the day is not known for sure, it is thought that it is because the child is trying to make the milk teeth touch each other. External grinding may cause mild wear on deciduous canines and incisors. If teeth grinding is at a very advanced level, pain may be experienced in the facial muscles, head, neck, ear and jaw joints.
Baby Bottle Caries
In babies, sometimes with the eruption of milk teeth, brown and small stains can be seen, especially on the teeth in the anterior region of the upper jaw. In fact, these stains are dental caries and the teeth break due to this decay. Feeding sugar, honey or biscuit-added milk with a bottle and keeping the bottle in the child’s mouth overnight causes widespread decay. Bottle caries is a type of decay that progresses very rapidly and if not intervened, it causes decay of the lower incisors.
To avoid baby bottle caries
- Do not leave a bottle in your sleeping baby’s mouth.
- Do not add sweet things such as honey, sugar, biscuits to the milk you give in a bottle.
- Take care of your baby’s teeth from the very first teeth. Wipe their teeth with the help of a wet cloth after each feeding.
If bottle caries is not treated, it can lead to pain and inflammation, causing the baby to become restless and can also upset the diet. It also causes the permanent teeth that will erupt from below to be deformed. If these teeth have to be extracted, the child may experience speech problems.
Protective Measures and Methods for Children’s Teeth
There are grooves called pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of molars. Fissure sealants are plastic-based materials that fill these grooves to protect teeth from decaying. It is liquid and white in color. It is a painless treatment that does not wear the teeth while applying, does not require anesthesia and can be done in only 5 minutes. Fissure sealants are always applied to the recently erupted first and second molars of children.
Fluoride Applications: Fluorine is an element that increases the resistance of teeth to decay with its chemical bond with tooth enamel. It is also found in many toothpastes as a result of this quality. Recent studies have shown that oral fluoride tablets given as a preventive treatment during pregnancy or infancy are not sufficient to prevent the development of dental caries. It has been scientifically proven that topical application of fluoride to tooth surfaces is a highly effective method in gaining resistance to caries. For this reason, applying topical fluoride gels every 3-6 months will provide significant protection against caries in the future.
Fluoride strengthens the enamel layer of the tooth, making the teeth resistant to decay. It can be taken by drinking fluoride water, swallowing fluoride supplements, using a fluoride toothpaste, mouthwash or local applications such as fluoride gels applied by the dentist. Fluoride is applied to the mouth in a few minutes by filling a special mold with a solution and gel by the dentist. This process should be repeated every 6 months. It is important that the drinking water used contains fluoride. In cases where this is not sufficient, fluoride supplements can be taken by determining the appropriate dose. If your child gets too much fluoride, they may have white, irregular spots on the front surfaces of permanent teeth.
In cases which a milk tooth is lost prematurely due to caries, trauma or other similar reasons, it may be necessary to make a temporary placeholder until the permanent tooth emerges. Space maintainers can be fixed or removable. If the necessary space maintainer is not applied, the teeth on both sides start to shift towards the empty spaces. Teeth in the opposite jaw begin to lengthen. Orthodontic treatment becomes mandatory in this case.
Milk teeth problems that can cause issues in permanent teeth
Impact on the front milk teeth may cause infections, causing irregularities in the shape, size and color of permanent teeth. If milk teeth are extracted instead of being held in place by treatment, space maintainers may be needed to protect the space. It is very important that the first and second molars are in place during the eruption of the 6-year tooth. So that the 6-year teeth will erupt in its normal place.
Treating dental problems in children
The decayed part of the tooth is cleaned and filled with permanent or temporary filling material. If the decay is very advanced, root canal treatment can be applied to the living tissues of the tooth.
Sometimes, in the event of a fall or injury, a tooth may be dislocated or broken. If a tooth fracture occurs as a result of an accident, it is necessary to wipe the tooth with warm water, keep it clean and go to the dentist without wasting time.
In some cases, the decay progresses to the living tissues of the tooth and can cause a painful and inflammatory condition that extends from the roots of the tooth to the jawbone. If the problematic tooth is a milk tooth and the eruption time of the permanent tooth coming from under is very close, an extraction may be in place. If the eruption time of the permanent tooth is not close, space maintainer should be applied instead of an extraction.
To protect your children’s oral health
- Teach your children to brush their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste that prevents tooth decay.
- Avoid starchy and sugary foods.
- Make sure that the water your children drink is fluoridated.
- Take your child to the dentist for regular dental check-ups.
What is Preventive Dentistry?
- Creating the habit of brushing teeth
- Creating the habit of using dental floss
- Tracking tooth eruption (eruption guidance)
- Detecting and preventing oral habits (such as finger or pacifier sucking)
- Protective and preventive orthodontic treatments (space maintainer appliance)
- Gaining the habit of following a balanced diet that does not cause decays
- Fissure sealant applications
- Fluoride applications
- Mouth guard applications to prevent sports injuries
- Collaborating with parents for these protective practices