Paediatric Dentist Interview
The Gentle Sleep Specialist’s interview
with Pediatric Dentist, Dr Rebecca Williams.
Rebecca is located at Bicton Cockburn Pediatric Dentistry.
I hope you find this informative, and thanks to Rebecca for your time.
If you would like to speak to me about helping your family with sleep concerns, simply use the links below to get in touch.
Video Transcript – Paedeiatric Dentist Dr Rebecca Williams
Tara: Hello, Tara here from The Gentle Sleep Specialist. I’m here with specialist paediatric dentist Rebecca, hi Rebecca.
Rebecca: Hi, how are you?
Tara: Yeah, I’m good, thanks. Thanks for coming on today. So today we’re here to chat about your little one’s teeth and how to take care of them and why they are so important. So I feel honoured to be here with Rebecca, thanks for doing this with me.
Rebecca: Thanks for having me.
Tara: Yeah. No, you’re welcome. So basically, you know I feel like a lot of people don’t know when to start taking care of little one’s teeth and it’s an issue that I guess I wanted to touch on during this series so that we can give you a really good idea about how important they are and how you can take good care of them.
So, yeah, Rebecca, when is it a good time to start seeing a paediatric dentist for example?
Rebecca: Yeah, so Tara, the best time to see the paediatric dentist is obviously when your child has teeth and so the Australian Dental Association recommends that people see a dentist from the age of one, one year of age. And that’s really so that we can assess which teeth are present, the pattern of the teeth that are there and also give some advice on how to look after the teeth.
Dietary guidelines, in terms of looking after teeth and just general advice. And get the children on the right path for having healthy teeth for their life.
Tara: Yeah, great. Because I guess a lot of people think that baby teeth aren’t important. Obviously I guess it sets them up, doesn’t it for life, the care of their teeth, from when they’re little. So tell us a little bit about the importance of baby teeth and why they need to be taken care of just as much as adult teeth for example.
Rebecca: Sure. So baby teeth are important obviously for eating and chewing. Also for the appearance of their teeth. But they have a really important role in terms of growth and development of their mouth and their jaws because they are holding space for the adult teeth. So people do seem to have … or some people have an idea that baby teeth aren’t so important because they fall out but in reality, those back molars don’t fall out until children are around 12 years of age. So that’s a long time that they’re in the mouth.
And if we lose those molars early, we can cause a lot of problems in terms of crowding and orthodontic issues in the future which that child might not necessarily have had.
The other thing is that if children are having a lot of dental treatment at a young age, they can be a bit traumatised from having a lot of fillings and extractions and things at a young age. So if we can prevent that from happening, children can be a lot happier in terms of looking after their teeth and also coming to the dentist.
Tara: Yeah, as time goes on. And I guess it’s really that foundation, isn’t it? The foundation to setting up good dental care for life.
Rebecca: Yeah, for sure, for sure.
Tara: Okay, and so I guess the next thing is when to brush. So tell us a little bit about that. Is it important as soon as you see one tooth, when should we begin brushing baby teeth and I guess how many times a day and tell us a little bit around how to care for those baby teeth?
Rebecca: Yeah. So baby teeth can be prone to get in decay as soon as they come through the gum and we do see children in one of year that have got decay in their teeth.
Rebecca: So it’s important really to set those routines early and generally we find that if you get into a routine of brushing your child’s teeth, they are more likely to accept it and-
Tara: And continue.
Rebecca: And to continue. So once you first see a tooth in your child’s mouth you should start to try to clean the tooth and that doesn’t mean two minutes of brushing that one tooth. It just means really you can use a flannel or one of the little finger silicone brushes or the small headed child’s brushes and what we want you to do is just really brush around that tooth to remove any plaque that’s there and any sugars from any foods or mil that they’ve had from the tooth.
And as they develop more teeth, obviously, you spend a bit longer brushing their teeth. I think once the child has got molars at the back it’s important really to be using a brush rather than just the flannel or the silicone finger brush so that you can get right back there.
And ideally, you would be brushing after the morning meal and then also last thing before bed. And you can just use water on the brush or the flannel at first and then the recommendation is that at 18 months, you can use a small smear of toothpaste.
Tara: Ah, so it’s 18 months. Okay, that’s good to know. Okay, so Rebecca, so let’s talk a little bit about babies falling asleep on the bottle and things like that. Do you notice that milk’s such an issue in terms of teeth and that sort of things? I mean, I know a lot of people think because it’s milk, it’s okay. But yeah, tell us a little bit about that side of things.
Rebecca: So, milk is obviously a very important food for a baby. And it’s healthy for the baby but the thing is that any type of milk does have some sugars in it. So whether it’s cow’s milk, breast milk or formula. And the issue is not so much with the milk itself but how often it’s been fed and then also the conditions that it’s being fed in. So we do find that children or babies or children that are having a continuous supply of milk on their teeth, particularly at nighttime where they don’t have much saliva in their mouth and they’re not sort of swallowing so rapidly, can lead to an increased risk of tooth decay.
So it’s much different to a child that’s having a larger meal of milk at nighttime and then having nothing over night. Having the same amount of milk but spaced over the whole night definitely increases the risk of them having decay, particularly in those front top teeth.
Tara: Okay, alright, that’s really interesting to know. So then, yeah, do you want to do a little bit of a demo, I guess, especially for parents who have babies or children with a full mouth of teeth, set of teeth. Can you just do a little demo for us on how they should be brushing and the areas that we really want to make sure we get to?
Rebecca: Sure. So this is a big demonstration mouth which obviously has a few more teeth than your child would have.
Tara: [inaudible 00:06:05] It’s okay, continue.
Rebecca: And now, there are probably three areas of their teeth where children can get decay and one is obviously in the grooves of their teeth at the back, so that’s where food and particularly sticky sugars like your sultanas and chocolate biscuits and things can get stuck and children don’t have that same response where they want … you know, it annoys them like it does in an adult if you had a tooth that had food stuck in it, it would be bothering you all day. Children can just run around for hours with that stuck in there so we really need to make sure that we clean that out after eating.
So, if I just hold this up. So that’s where we can brush on the biting surface of the tooth. Just like so and this is probably the easiest place to brush a child’s teeth is on these biting surfaces.
The other area that we see decay is along the gum line, so between the gum and the tooth here and that’s because plaque or the sort of sticky, sugary solution can get stuck between the gum and the tooth. So what we need to do is angle the tooth brush from about a 45 degree angle like this and brush along the gum line. So really, when you’re going in your child’s mouth, you brush the top, you brush the sides. And you want to clean just between the gum and the tooth and that’s the whole way around.
The third place that we see a lot of decay and this is probably more so in kids that are around after two years of age when they’ve got their second molar at the back and where that comes in contact with the first molar we can see decay between the teeth.
If your child has got spacing between the teeth then it’s easy to clean with the brush and food doesn’t tend to get stuck in there but if those teeth are tight together, food and plaque can get stuck between the teeth and again, children aren’t as aware of food that gets stuck in there and that’s where flossing comes in. And you can buy floss on little sticks that you can use to get between those two molars at the back.
So brushing we would recommend to do at morning and nighttime and the toothpaste that you would use would be a children’s toothpaste. And then flossing would be about every night or second night to get in between those, particularly the molars is where we see the most of our decay.
Tara: Oh great, thanks so much for that. So yeah, I guess you know, to finish up, tell us a little about paediatric dentistry as opposed to just your normal dentist and how people can go about seeing a paediatric dentist.
Rebecca: Yeah. So paediatric dentistry is a specialty of dentistry. So paediatric dentists have all done a general dental degree so five years of general dentistry and then they specialise into the area of paediatric dentistry so they do an additional three years of training in paediatric dentistry. And the difference between a specialist dentist and a general dentist is really just the level of training in paediatric dentistry.
So a paediatric dentist is more trained in areas of behaviour management, more complex procedures, so crowns and fillings and nerve treatments and things as well as medical conditions in special needs dentistry. We have good access and regular access to sedation techniques for children which is what a lot of young children need.
And I guess our practise is geared towards children. So we have all of the equipment that a child would need and all of the materials. But in saying that, a lot of general dentists are fantastic in terms of treating children and it may be fine in terms of regular run of the mill dentistry to see a general dentist. But for more specialised care, you can see a paediatric dentist.
Tara: And they might refer to you as well if they need to.
Rebecca: Yeah, correct, that’s right. So we do see a lot of patients referred from general dentists and we also see a lot of patients that are unrefered and just would like to have a specialist care.
Tara: Yeah, okay, no worries. So where are these two practises held. So tell me a little bit about the [inaudible 00:09:57] and where they’re held.
Rebecca: Sure, sure. So I work at two practises. One is called Cockburn Paediatric Dentistry and that’s in Success, just near the Cockburn Gateway and then our other practise is in Bicton on Canning Highway, just close to East Fremantle there and we’ve got nice modern facilities and as I said, we’re good to see children here.
Tara: Perfect, great. Thank you so much for coming on today and having a chat with me, it’s great. I’ve learned a lot, too.
Rebecca: Oh good. Thank you for having me.
Tara: So yeah, that was great. All right, take care everyone, talk soon.
Rebecca: See you.
You can contact Rebecca at Bicton Cockburn Pediatric Dentistry.