Decoding Pediatric Dental Jargon – A Guide from Dr Mila Cohen

Understanding the Language of Pediatric Dentistry

Dr. Mila cohen’s Guide To Understanding Kids Oral Health Care Services

As a pediatric dentist, I often find myself using specific dental terminology when discussing treatment options with parents and children. While these terms may be familiar to me, I understand that they can be confusing for those who are not as well-versed in pediatric dentistry.

In this article, I will decode some of the most common jargon used in pediatric dental care to help parents better understand their child’s oral health needs.

Common Terms and Definitions

  1. Fluoride: A mineral that helps strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities.
  2. Plaque: A sticky film that forms on teeth and can lead to tooth decay if not removed.
  3. Sealant: A thin coating applied to the chewing surfaces of molars to protect against decay.
  4. Bruxism: Teeth grinding or clenching which can cause damage to teeth and jaw pain.
  5. Malocclusion: Misalignment of teeth or bite.

The Importance of Fluoride

Fluoride is an important tool in preventing cavities in both adults and children. It works by strengthening tooth enamel; thus making it more resistant to acid attacks from bacteria in plaque.

Children who receive fluoride treatments have been shown to have a 43% reduction in decayed, missing, or filled baby teeth compared with those who did not receive fluoride treatments (source).

While fluoride may be found naturally in water sources like rivers and lakes, many communities add it to public water supplies at safe levels for optimal dental health benefits.

Understanding Plaque Buildup

Plaque buildup is a common issue among children due to their developing brushing skills. If left untreated, plaque buildup can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

To prevent plaque buildup at home, encourage your child to brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss daily. Regular dental cleanings are also important to remove any plaque that may have accumulated.

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The Benefits of Sealants

Sealants are an effective way to protect your child’s teeth from decay. They work by filling in the grooves and crevices on the chewing surfaces of molars, which can be difficult to clean with a toothbrush.

According to the American Dental Association, sealants can reduce cavities by up to 80% for two years after application and continue to provide protection for up to four years (source).

Talk with your pediatric dentist about whether sealants are right for your child’s oral health needs.

Addressing Bruxism

Bruxism is a common issue among children and can cause damage to teeth as well as jaw pain. If you suspect your child is grinding their teeth at night or clenching their jaw during the day, talk with your pediatric dentist about potential treatment options.

Some common treatments for bruxism include using a mouthguard at night or practicing relaxation techniques during the day.

Treating Malocclusion

Malocclusion refers to misaligned teeth or a misaligned bite. While treatment may not always be required, severe cases may lead to difficulty speaking or eating as well as cosmetic concerns.

Treatment options for malocclusion vary depending on severity but may include orthodontic treatment such as braces or retainers. Talk with your pediatric dentist about what treatment options may be appropriate for your child’s specific needs.


Understanding pediatric dental jargon is essential to making informed decisions about your child’s oral health care needs. By familiarizing yourself with these terms, you can better communicate with your pediatric dentist and take an active role in maintaining good dental health habits at home. Remember that regular visits to the dentist along with proper brushing and flossing techniques go a long way in the prevention of dental issues down the road.