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From the time a child is born, all the way through adulthood, their mouth goes through some pretty incredible changes! Baby teeth can appear anywhere from 6 to 12 months of age, with full sets arriving around age 3. Around 6 years of age these baby teeth will start to be replaced by permanent teeth. While people typically associate them with dental cleanings, one of the primary roles of pediatric dentists is to monitor the growth and development during these stages.
The role of Pediatric Dentists, while similar to that of general dentists, separates itself with a couple of important distinctions. Their primary focus, besides the oral health of their patients, is to “establish a comprehensive and accessible ongoing relationship between the dentist and patient”, according to the AAPD. In other words, it is important that the dentist establish a fun and safe environment as well as a friendly rapport with children starting at an early age, so that they look forward to their subsequent visits rather than fearing or dreading them. These relationships set families up for a lifetime of success in their dental health.
Another important role of the pediatric dentist is to provide patients with pertinent dental information and resources so that they may guide their children into healthy oral hygiene habits at home. Some of this information includes a caries risk assessment, helpful advice on how to avoid mouth and teeth injuries, information on thumb-sucking and pacifier habits, information on oral development, and programs of preventative home care like brushing and flossing. Children typically only visit the dentist twice a year, so making sure they have the tools to continue the care at home is very important. Educating and empowering children to take control of their own nutrition and dental health will yield more permanent solutions than simply treating their problems.