Pediatric dental and oromaxillofacial surgery diagnoses and corrects injuries and defects of the oromaxillofacial region in children, specifically the mouth, jaws, facial structures and neck.
What is it?
The medical specialty of pediatric dental and oromaxillofacial surgery involves the diagnosis, surgical and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries, and defects involving both the functional and aesthetic aspects of the hard and soft tissues of the oromaxillofacial region. It is a dental specialty concerned with the health of the teeth of the child, as well as a medical specialty concerned with the oral health of the mouth and facial features. This includes treatment of problems of the teeth, jaws, facial bones, temporomandibular joints and salivary glands.
What are the subspecialties?
There are multiple subspecialties associated with this specialty, with the most common and well-known subspecialty being cranio-maxillofacial surgery, which is a specialty associated to surgery pertaining to the head, face, and jaw area. Other common pediatric dental subspecialties include orthodontics, which focuses on proper alignment of the teeth, and periodontics, which is concerned with the health of the tissue surrounding the teeth, the gums.
What are the commonly associated medical diseases or symptoms?
Common medical diseases and symptoms that would cause a patient to seek treatment from a pediatric oromaxillofacial surgeon can range from common dental and oral problems to major birth defects. The most common symptoms and diseases include symptoms such as cavities, misaligned teeth or impacted teeth, jaw asymmetry, craniosynostosis and hemifacial macrosomia. Craniosynostosis, also known as a craniofacial anomaly, is a birth defect. It causes the affected baby’s head to be misshapen and his or her brain to be unable to form properly. This is due to the joints of the baby’s head around the bones in the skull closing prematurely. Hemifacial macrosomia is a congenital defect that causes the lower part of the face to be underdeveloped, including the ears, mouth, and jaw area. One of the most common birth defects that patients seek pediatric oromaxillofacial treatment for is a cleft lip and cleft palate. This is a birth defect which causes an opening in the front of the face and in the roof of the mouth. This is caused by the tissues of the mouth not forming properly during fetal development.
What are the commonly associated medical procedures?
Children will need dental and oromaxillofacial assistance for common and routine treatments such as teeth cleanings, dental fillings to fill cavities, and oral x-rays. In addition to routine check ups for the treatments for the common diseases and symptoms, other common medical procedures associated with pediatric oromaxillofacial surgery include common oral procedures such as extractions, removal of impacted teeth, and dental implant placement. Other procedures include a frenectomy. A frenectomy is a procedure that loosens the bands of the tongue to allow for better tongue movement and dental spacing and formation.
Are there any preventative measures I can take?
While some of the diseases and symptoms in this specialty are caused by birth defects, there are preventative measures that can be taken to avoid some pediatric oral and maxillofacial problems. The biggest preventative measure is proper dental hygiene, especially in children. Instilling these habits in children at a young age can carry proper hygiene habits throughout their lifetime. The American Dental Association recommends that children begin seeing a proper dentist before their first birthday. Brushing and cleaning gums before teeth come in and then transitioning into a tooth cleaning schedule after teeth come in is imperative.
What are the common misconceptions about this specialty?
A common misconception with this specialty is that children’s oral hygiene does not matter, since their teeth will fall out regardless. This notion is untrue, because beyond the proper hygiene habits that children can obtain, lack of poor oral hygiene in children can cause their teeth to fall out prematurely, which can lead to jaw problems, bite, and permanent teeth problems.
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