Children’s and young people’s dental care
Oral health care for the under-18s is free. The most important factor in dental care for young children is preventative care. Children and young people are invited to have an oral health check at specified intervals.
Looking after a child’s teeth starts during pregnancy. The maternity clinic takes care of the parents’ oral health so that the parents’ mouths and teeth are healthy when the baby is born. The maternity clinic gives guidance on oral health care of your baby.
The most important factor in dental care for young children is preventative care: regular brushing of teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, using xylitol, and healthy eating and drinking habits.
Parents should not use the same spoon and other eating utensils as their children so that bacteria that cause caries do not get transferred from te parent’s to the children’s mouth.
Small children are already told at the clinic why constant snacking or drinking soft drinks is dangerous for their teeth. Attention is also paid in kindergarten and pre-school to children's eating and drinking habits. Children are offered water or milk to drink with their meal.
The first invitation for an oral health examination is sent when the child is 1 or 2 years old. A dental hygienist or a dental nurse examines the child’s mouth carefully. There are suitably sized soft tooth brushes even for very small children. Parents are given instructions in the use of fluoride toothpaste.
The next examination is at 3 or 4 years old and the one after that at 5 or 6 years old. If the dental nurse or dental hygienist consider it necessary, a separate appointment is made for the child to see a dentist.
If there is a hole in a child’s tooth it is filled if necessary. If the hole is very small, the child’s parents or guardians are given instructions on how the tooth can be fixed through good, regular treatment.
Sometimes milk teeth have to be extracted at the dentists if a tooth does not come out without difficulty to make way for the permanent teeth.
Pupils are invited for oral health checks in classes 1, 5 and 8. Parents or guardians are sent an extensive health questionnaire to complete which the pupil takes with them to the health check.
The health check for the first year pupils pays particular attention to how the pupil takes care of their oral health and to good health habits. The dentist checks the condition of the permanent teeth and the bite. Parents or guardians are welcome to attend the check-up.
Fifth-year pupils are often undergoing what is known as the second stage of teething when the permanent molars are coming through. During the check-ups for fifth year pupils, they are told about regular brushing, eating habits, sweets and soft drinks.
During the check-ups for eight year pupils, attention is also paid to the possible experimental use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs. Young people may have plaque which is removed during the check-up. The clinic advises young people how to use floss, and to prevent plaque.
Some illnesses and medicines also have an effect on dental health. In situations of this kind, oral health check-ups are arranged for the pupil more frequently than normal. If the flow of saliva has decreased because of an illness, the pupil may receive specialist dental care. Particular attention is paid to fear of dentists in the treatment of those suffering from it.
The mistreatment or neglect of a child also has an effect on their oral health. In these cases, the health care staff work in cooperation with the school health care service.
In the oral health check, the child’s bite is also examined. Some children develop an occlusal error and are therefore directed to further examinations. Severe occlusal errors that affect the growth and functioning of the jaws are treated in public healthcare. Mild occlusal errors do not necessarily need any treatment. Children under the age of 18 can get orthodontic treatment free of charge at health and social servicescentres.
The treatment of occlusal errors and orthodontic treatment are timed individually. Certain occlusal errors can already be treated when the child has milk teeth while some other treatments will not be carried out until during the child’s growth spurt. The treatment is aimed at achieving a well-functioning bite until old age.
If a child or a young person gets a sudden, bad toothache or some other sudden oral health problem, contact the wellbeing services county's on-call oral health care service. There may be a different on-call telephone number for children and young people than for adults. Access to private dental treatment is normally faster than obtaining public dental care. There may be differences in different wellbeing services counties in the on-call waiting times for public dental care for patients suffering pain.
If a child or a young person gets tooth ache in the evening, at the weekend or on a public holiday and painkillers are not working, contact the county's joint emergency services. They will tell you what to do.
Parents or guardians are given information about issues relating to the dental care of primary school aged children. Guardians can see information about their children under the age of 10 from the MyKanta service. In some wellbeing services counties, the guardians can also see the information on their children over the age of 10. Secondary school pupils can refuse to have information about their dental care passed on to their parents or guardians.