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Updated on November 2, 2022

Pediatric Dentistry: Common Procedures & Treatment Options

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What is Pediatric Dentistry?

Pediatric dentistry is defined as the practice, teaching, and research of preventive oral care in children from birth through adolescence.

Pediatric dentists encompass all aspects of oral health care for developing children. They also offer specialized dental treatment for sick and disabled children.

After a teenager turns 18 years old, they will no longer receive treatment from a pediatric dentist. Instead, he or she will visit a general or family dentist.

Children should visit their pediatric dentist twice a year. The first visit should be scheduled within 6 months of an infant’s first tooth eruption or by 12 months of age.

dentist cleaning young boys teeth

4 Types of  Procedures Pediatric Dentists Perform

Using fluoride daily is essential for every child, especially in the early stages of life. Fluoride helps reduce plaque buildup. It also helps prevent tooth decay and tooth loss.

However, if a child already shows advanced signs of tooth decay or other oral diseases, more invasive preventive treatments are necessary.

Restorative pediatric dental treatments include:

1. Tooth Fillings

Cavities and dental erosion are the most common dental conditions that can affect children of all ages. Caries and erosion are usually treated with tooth fillings.

Enamel erosion is the irreversible loss of tooth enamel. It is caused by excessive exposure to acidic liquids and food.

Baby (primary) teeth are more prone to erosion than permanent teeth. This is because the enamel in primary teeth is thinner and less mineralized.

The prevalence of dental erosion in children ranges from 10 to 80 percent. In most cases, treatment isn’t needed. Your pediatric dentist may recommend changes in lifestyle, behavior, and diet. 

Cavities, even on baby teeth, must be treated. A pediatric dentist will remove the cavity and place a filling to help prevent the cavity from worsening or spreading.

2. Pediatric Pulp Therapy

Pulp treatment is known as a baby root canal or pediatric pulp therapy. This treatment is used by pediatric dentists to treat, save, and restore a child’s decayed baby (primary) teeth.

3. Stainless Steel Crowns (SSCs)

Stainless steel crowns protect a child’s molars (back primary teeth) that haven’t formed properly or are heavily decayed. Sometimes pediatric dentists have to place SSCs on the front teeth.

4. Tooth Extractions & Space Maintainers

Tooth extractions, or the removal of a tooth, are usually needed due to trauma, disease, crowding, or decay.

Space maintainers are then placed where the extracted tooth was to ensure the child’s permanent tooth grows in correctly.

Preventive Pediatric Dental Treatments

Preventive dental treatments for children include sealants and fluoride. Both of these treatments help prevent cavity formation.

Tooth Sealants

If a child has deep pits and grooves in their baby (primary) or permanent teeth, a sealant might be placed to prevent tooth decay. 

Fluoride Treatment

Fluoride use has been linked with a decreased rate of caries. Since the introduction of fluoride into the water supply, there has been a decrease in dental caries in children and adults. 

Your child can get the right amount of fluoride in two ways. The two forms of fluoride available are:

Dietary Fluoride Supplements

Dietary fluoride supplements come in tablet and liquid form. 

In many counties in America, drinking water has been treated with fluoride to help people maintain healthy teeth.

Fluoride supplements are only recommended for children who consume drinking water that is low in fluoride or those who have a high risk of developing cavities.

Topical Fluoride Therapy

Topical fluoride treatment is best for children between 3 and 6 years of age but can be applied at any age. This type of fluoride comes in a few different forms, including:

  • Over-the-counter fluoridated toothpaste
  • Professionally applied treatments, such as gels, pastes, and varnishes.

Topical fluoride treatments are applied during professional teeth cleanings and help prevent cavities.

Summary

  • Children will see a pediatric dentist until they are 18 years old
  • Children should begin seeing a pediatric dentist within 6 months of their first tooth and twice a year after that
  • Pediatric dentists can perform an array of procedures, including extractions and cavity fillings
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on November 2, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Dental Caries (Tooth Decay) in Children Age 2 to 11.” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018.
  2. Koch Göran, et al. “Pediatric Dentistry: a Clinical Approach.” John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2017.
  3. Nowak, Arthur J. “Pediatric Dentistry: Infancy through Adolescence.” Elsevier, 2019.
  4. Taji, S, and W K Seow. “A Literature Review of Dental Erosion in Children.” Australian Dental Journal, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2010.
  5. The Use of Fluoride in Infants and Children.” Paediatrics & Child Health, Pulsus Group Inc, 2002.
  6. Zou, Jing, et al. “Common Dental Diseases in Children and Malocclusion.” International Journal of Oral Science, 2018.
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