Humans have two sets of teeth in their lifetime: deciduous (baby) teeth and permanent (adult) teeth. Although children will typically lose their last baby tooth around the age of twelve or thirteen, pediatric dentistry is important for a number of reasons.
Baby teeth can get cavities and become infected in the same way as adult teeth. Even though they will have a much shorter lifespan than adult teeth, they must be maintained and cared for in a similar manner. Dental check-ups and cleanings are essential to the maintenance of baby teeth. Baby teeth are also essential space maintainers for adult teeth. When children loose teeth prematurely due to trauma or disease, they are often faced with more challenging orthodontic problems in their adulthood.
It is recommended that parents take their child for his or her first dental visit by age 1 following with regular visits every 6 months. The tasks of the first few visits are variable, depending on the response and behavior of the child. The goal in the first few visits to the dental office is for the child to feel comfortable in the dental chair, building confidence and trust to allow the dentist and dental hygienist to ultimately perform a traditional cleaning and exam as would be performed for an adult patient.
As the child grows, he or she will also be evaluated for orthodontic concerns and growth patterns. Typically, it is recommended for a child to see an orthodontist after the first set of teeth have been lost around age twelve or thirteen. On occasion, however, it may be beneficial to receive an orthodontic consultation prior to age twelve if there are severe discrepancies in tooth position as it is much easier to correct severe imbalances of the jaws and the bite when a child is growing versus approaching the matter after growth is complete.
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