What’s the difference between adult and pediatric dentistry? Are they the same thing? The answer is yes and no. Both have to do with keeping your teeth healthy, but we approach pediatric dentistry and adult dentistry differently. At Hardy Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, we specialize in providing dental services for children because we know the importance of starting life with healthy teeth. Pediatric dentists are specialists that are dedicated to the oral health of infants, children, adolescents and patients with special needs. You may know a lot about adult dentistry (or maybe not). If you don’t, we can help you to know the difference between adult and pediatric dental care and why starting out early with good oral hygiene is a must.
Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. Dr. Nam specializes in pediatric dentistry. She actually had to study child psychology, growth and development in her training, coupled with exposure to specific dental and emotional needs of growing children. Dentistry for children is different than for adults. Most babies begin teething and receive their “primary teeth” at 6 months of age. Primary teeth are known as the baby teeth. There are usually 10 in the upper jaw and 10 in the lower jaw. These are spaced out to make room for adult teeth that will grow in. Even though these baby teeth will eventually fall out, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry still recommends that children be seen for exams as early as one year of age or within 6 months of the first baby tooth erupting.
For an infant exam, we allow the infant to stay in the comfort of your arms or security of your lap. The child will be positioned facing their parent, with their legs wrapped around the parent’s waist. Dr. Nam will sit knee-to-knee with the parent and the child will be lowered back onto the dentist’s lap. The parent keeps contact with their child the entire appointment. We have found that the best way to keep children calm is to have the parent with the child for each examination. Dr. Nam will examine their mouth using a mirror and soft toothbrush.
The ADA recommends that infants and children receive a check-up every 6 months for their teeth. For children who are not quite teens, the jaw and mouth are still growing before the age of 10. We recommend that orthodontic care be taken early-on If we find the presence of a bite problem (overbite, underbite, crossbite, openbite).
Adults are also recommended to have comprehensive exams and cleanings every 6 months to monitor the health of the teeth. By the time you are receiving general dental care, you should have lost all your baby teeth. You should also have most (if not all) of your adult teeth (32). You should have 28 adult teeth if your wisdom teeth have been taken out (and you had 4 wisdom teeth).
Gum disease and tooth decay are more prevalent in teens and adults. People with a higher risk of these conditions need to see their dentist more often than 2 times a year. Adult teeth generally consist of 8 incisors (the small front teeth) and 12 molars (the large teeth towards the back of the mouth). They will also have 4 canines (the pointy teeth) and 8 premolars. Their sizes and shapes will vary and the teeth will be much larger than baby teeth were. We take extensive care with dental treatments, as adult teeth are what people will generally have for the rest of their lives. Adult dentistry usually involves procedures such as root canals, cavity fillings, sealants, dental extractions, oral cancer screenings, periodontal and cosmetic treatments and more.
Pediatric dentistry is very important for overall oral health and wellness. Major problems (such as bite problems) are discovered and dealt with at an early age to prevent difficulty in later years. Seeing your child when they’re young is always smart. We can monitor how much space is in the mouth for adult teeth to come in correctly. As always, no matter the age, it is vitally important to take amazing care of your teeth. Practice proper oral hygiene habits, even with infants. To learn more about pediatric dentistry and our services for families and adults, call our Hardy Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics office at (720) 887-6003!