Pediatric dentists are very special and not just because I am one. Aside from the routine cleanings and restoring dental caries, they have the unique advantage of identifying potential dental problems in a young child years before their parents become aware of it. An example of this is the use of the pacifier and thumb sucking. Both have the potential to cause the same condition ; an anterior open bite and tongue thrust. Luckily if this habit is thwarted at an early age( prior to the eruption of permanent teeth) then this condition can self correct , without the use of orthodontic intervention.
Over the course of my 20+ year career in pediatric dentistry, I have always maintained that education is the key to preventing many childhood dental ailments not only limited to dental caries. One point in particular that I’m very passionate about is sleep and breathing. They are intertwined ; if a child doesn’t breath well then the child doesn’t sleep well. If a child doesn’t sleep well then there’s a host of problems that ensue that may include but are not limited to:snoring , grinding of teeth, crowded teeth and ,interestingly enough , poor school performance and behavioral challenges. Understandably, if a child is tired and irritable due poor sleep, he will not be as attentive as his well rested peers. His performance in school will also be a reflection of that.
Sometimes the culprit to poor sleep is an ankylosed tongue ( tongue tie) or enlarged tonsils/adenoids. Many times both are involved. Early intervention is the key to having a child grow happy and healthy ( at least from a dental point of view). We are fortunate to have the knowledge and training to identify and correct many of these conditions which become life long problems if left untreated.
Having the ability of touching a child’s life and potentially improving it, makes my role as a pediatric dentist a very rewarding one.