Paediatric dentists are dentists who only treat children. They are the Paediatricians of dentistry. The Paediatric dentist has extra and specialized training and is dedicated to the oral health of children. Children of all ages (including those with special health needs) need different approaches in dealing with their behaviour at the dentist. Paediatric dentists also guide children’s dental growth and development as well as help these children avoid future dental problems.
Primary teeth, or baby-teeth, are important for (1) proper chewing and eating, (2) providing space for the permanent teeth and guiding them into the correct position, (3) permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. Primary teeth also affect the (4) development of speech and add to an (5) attractive appearance. While the front 4 teeth last until 6-7 years of age, the back teeth (ie molars) aren’t replaced until age 10-13.
A big concern is nursing or baby bottle tooth decay. A baby risks severe tooth decay when he or she nurses continuously from a bottle of milk formula, breastmilk or juice during naps or at night. However, the earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of parents and caregivers preventing dental problems.
The parent can begin by cleaning around the painful tooth thoroughly. Use warm salt water and rinse the mouth to displace any food trapped between teeth. DO NOT use aspirin or paracetamol on the aching tooth or on the gum. If the child has a facial swelling, apply a cold compress to the area. For temporary pain relief, paracetamol (e.g. syrup Panadol or Calpol) is recommended. See a dentist as soon as possible.
The parent has to recover the tooth and be sure to hold it by the crown (top white portion) and not the root end. Rinse, but do not clean or handle the tooth more than necessary. Reinsert the tooth in the socket and hold it in place using a clean piece of gauze or cloth. If the tooth cannot be reinserted, carry it in a cup containing fresh milk or saliva. If the patient is old enough, the tooth may also be carried in the patient’s mouth. The patient must see a dentist IMMEDIATELY! Time is a critical factor in saving the tooth.
Ice can be applied to any bruised areas. For bleeding, parents should apply firm (but gentle) pressure with a clean cloth. If the bleeding does not stop with pressure or continues after 15 minutes, go to an emergency centre.