Dentistry For The Young

Different age groups tend to have unique dental needs. What remains constant is the fact that there are always some levels of dental care involved, either in the form of prevention or treatment.

Although an increased awareness of dental health has reduced the need for extensive treatment in younger patients, it is not uncommon to see that certain sections of the community have clearly failed to benefit from the continuous onslaught of “Better Oral Health” messages.

Babies And Toddlers

Personally, I like to call them “Dental Delights”. They are an amazing age group whose confidence can be won at the chair-side and a check up and simple treatment often faces little opposition.

Older Children

This is an age group that frequently presents with problems either associated with diet and/ or oral hygiene. This group is easy to communicate as they have the advantage of being in a school environment. Quite often, they may present with fears passed on from peers or parents.

Teenagers

A majority of teenagers in this country enjoy good dental health. Teen Dental Initiatives have helped in timely aversion of many a tooth being lost. This bunch sometimes presents with a myriad of issues, but not always related to, excessive consumption of aerated/ soft drinks, bulimia, use of recreational drugs, neglected oral hygiene and lifestyle choices.

Signs of Dental Trouble

  • Food getting stuck between teeth
  • Wincing while chewing
  • Prefers to chew on one side
  • Avoiding cold/ hot foods
  • Holding/ feeling the jaw quite often
  • Pain – brought on by different temperatures or starts spontaneously and sometimes at night

Advanced Dental Problems

Treatment of advanced dental problems depends on variety of factors. For example, if a baby tooth is close to the age of being lost naturally, the best course may be to extract it or wait and watch and extract it only if it does start to cause symptoms.

Another factor is child behaviour, usually managed well on a dental chair. It is sometimes more appropriate to refer upset, frightened and uncooperative children for treatment under gas or a general anaesthetic. The main aim of such referrals is to avoid traumatic experiences that are often carried on to adulthood.

To sum things up:

  • The first visit for a child should ideally be before any problems start especially pain. Such a visit would imprint the idea of a “pain-free” experience.
  • The first visit usually comprises of an introduction to the staff, equipment and instruments. This is usually followed by a brief discussion about diet and oral hygiene with the parents.
  • In the event of advanced treatment, the use of a needle is inevitable. We endeavour to make this experience acceptable to the child and depending upon the age of the patient different techniques are employed, usually ending in success.
  • The worst case scenario is when the child is completely distressed, upset and uncooperative. This is not as hopeless as it may appear; a prompt referral to a specialist or a larger hospital (where recovery facility is available) is done where the child is treated under sedation or a general anaesthetic.