INTRODUCTION:Pediatric patients are children from birth through adolescence. The medical branch which deals with medical care of infants, children and adolescents is called as Pediatrics and a medical doctor who specializes in this branch is known as a pediatrician. Different branches of pediatrics are pediatric oncology, pediatric immunology, pediatric cardiology, pediatric critical care, etc.
Good dental and oral health children is important for efficient mastication, speaking and for smiling. If poor dental and oral health in pediatric patients is left untreated, dental caries can result in pain and infection, chronic infection around one or more teeth can lead to damage to the developing permanent teeth. Bacterial infection from the mouth can easily get into the bloodstream and cause infection and inflammation wherever it spreads. Immunocompromised children however are at increased risk of developing systemic complications from dental infections, which may prove fatal. Thus, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) dental and oral care is medically necessary in pediatric patients for the purpose of preventing and eliminating orofacial disease, pain, and infection, restoring the form and function of the dentition, and correcting facial disfiguration or dysfunction.
So age-defined dental specialty that provides both primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic dental and oral health care for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health care needs is called as pediatric dentistry and a dentist who specializes in this branch is known as a pedodontics.
PEDIATRIC DENTAL PATIENTS:
ERUPTION OF TEETH: Pediatric patients begin to get their primary teeth during the first 6 months of life. They start to lose their primary teeth by age 6 or 7 years, which eventually are replaced by permanent teeth. Primary teeth may be temporary, but they deserve good care not only to chew food easily, but to pronounce words properly.
COMMON DENTAL PROBLEMS IN PEDIATRIC POPULATION:
- Dental Caries/ Tooth decay: extremely common among children. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is called as early childhood caries, baby bottle tooth decay or nursing mouth syndrome. This condition can destroy teeth. It occurs when a child’s teeth are exposed frequently to sugary food and medicines for long periods. Attention to proper diet and strict oral hygiene maintenance can help to prevent tooth decay.
- Gum disease (Gingivitis): caused by poor oral hygiene
- Oral Candidiasis
- Bad breath
- Over retained primary tooth
- Thumb sucking, mouth breathing, tooth grinding
DENTAL AND ORAL HEALTH CARE FOR A PEDIATRIC PATIENT:
“PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE”
Primary preventive dental care:
- Oral health examination in every 6 months
- Wipe your child’s gums with a lukewarm water with cotton cloth or a clean gauze pad after each feeding.
- As soon as the first tooth appears in oral cavity start brushing your child’s teeth.
- Encouraging for less consumption of sugary foods to reduce caries risk, cleaning and fluoride treatments
- Vaccinations for infectious diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, and polio.
- Habit counseling (for example, pacifier use, thumb sucking and mouth breathing)
Secondary preventive dental care:
- screening for dental caries, gum inflammation and periodontal diseases
- Early assessment and treatment for malocclusion (orthodontics)
Tertiary preventive dental care:
- Amalgam, composite fillings pulpotomy and pulpectomy for dental caries
- Care for dental injuries like fractured, displaced, or avulsed teeth
Behavior, attitude, body language, and communication skills of pediatric dentist are important to creating a positive dental visit for the child and to gain trust from the child and parent.
. American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Policy on medically necessary care. Pediatr Dent 2015;37(special issue):18-22.
. Commission on Dental Accreditation. Accreditation Standards for Advanced Specialty Education Programs in Pediatric Dentistry; 2000.
Dr. Rajshri Uttam Gurav