It is a branch which deals with all the dental problems related to children below the age of 13 years. The deciduous or milk teeth erupt from the age of 6 months and the first permanent tooth (mandibular first molar) erupts around 6 years of age. There are 20 milk teeth which exfoliate or fall off and are replaced by the permanent teeth. The deciduous teeth start exfoliating from around 5-6 years. This process continues upto around 13 years, which is the mixed dentition stage. All the conditions that affect the permanent teeth are found in the milk teeth as well, however there may be some differences in the treatment as the anatomy of the milk teeth is slightly different than the permanent teeth.
The most common conditions are:
- Dental caries, which if not restored can lead to pulp involvement.
- Rampant caries or nursing bottle caries, which is common in infants who drink milk from bottles. Due to the habit, the milk forms a sticky layer on the teeth which leads to plaque and dental caries. This generally affects most of the teeth in the dentition leading to brownish areas of discoloration or caries.
- Early carious lesions or areas of demineralization can be treated with remineralizing agents such as Novamin or ACP-CPP containing agents (Recaldent)eg: GC Tooth mousse, etc. This helps to remineralise the whitish areas prevent further caries.
- Fluoride application
- Oral prophylaxis involves thorough scaling (cleaning) of teeth and gums to remove existing plaque, calculus, etc. and polishing of teeth.
- Space maintainers: Generally if a deciduous tooth is lost early, it is important to preserve that space for the erupting permanent tooth; if not there may be malalignment of the teeth. Certain devices called space maintainers are given to preserve this space for the erupting permanent tooth.
- Habit breaking appliances for habits like tongue thrusting, mouth breathing, night grinding,etc.
- Full crowns:Metal crowns given following root canal therapy or even prophylactically to cover a tooth with high caries index or other caries susceptible areas.
- Restorations/fillings: Glass Ionomer Cement restoration is most commonly done.