Early Dental Care and How it can Prevent Future Problems
Early Dental Care – How it can help prevent future problems.
Generally speaking, more and more dentists agree that the sooner children visit the dentist, the better. The ADA and AGD (Academy of General Dentists) are in consensus that a child should come see the dentist within six (6) months of getting their first tooth, which occurs somewhere between 1 year and 18 months (usually).
When a child’s teeth start coming in, the parents should bring them in, not only to check on the development of the gums, teeth, and bite, but to also go over with the the parents the child’s nutrition, the growth and development of the child and how that relates to their overall oral health.
One of the reasons early dental care is so important (and I’m talking about even 1 year old visits), is because of the preventative aspect of doing so. Juices contain sugar and acids, and some formulas contain sugar as well. Even breast milk can lead to tooth decay. A lot of people undervalue the importance of early dental care because “they’re just baby teeth”. It’s not just that, it’s that we want to develop a trusting relationship with the child, we want to develop early habits that promote oral hygiene and taking care of their health. We want to help teach the parents how to properly clean their child’s teeth and gums. All of this is important, and yes, we also want to try to keep their teeth (any of them) from decaying prematurely. Oral disease affects an estimated 2.5 million children around the US and can result in some lifelong problems that are not only painful, but also very expensive…and that’s not just limited to the mouth.
Parents generally would participate in these early dental care appointments as well. Usually they would sit in the dental chair with their child on their lap, the dentist would generally go over cleaning technique, general oral care, and anything else that would start the child off in the right direction, in terms of their dental and oral health.
What to expect at your child’s appointment.
When you go with your child, you can probably expect the following to occur:
- Thorough, but gentle, examination of your child’s mouth (gums, teeth, jaw, their bite alignment, and the tissue in the mouth). The doctor will want to observe and monitor growth and development, to determine lack of or presence of problem areas (oral health related, obviously).
- If necessary, a gentle cleaning that may involve just a light polishing of the teeth. This is done to remove any plaque and calculus build-up around the teeth, and on the gums, and to help remove staining that can occur.
- A demonstration on proper home care.
- Determining the need for fluoride.
- In some instances x-rays will be needed.
Home care is very important for your child’s future oral health. One of the ways you can help prevent tooth decay is to gently wipe down your child’s teeth and gums with a clean, warm, and damp cloth after each feeding. When teeth start coming in, you can use a small soft-bristled toothbrush and water, to gently brush them. If you’re considering using toothpaste before their two years old, you should consult a dentist. You can help to avoid baby bottle tooth decay and misalignment with the teeth by weaning your child off of bottle and breastfeeding after a year old. You should also ensure your keeping an eye out for excessive sucking of pacifiers, fingers, and thumbs, as excessive sucking of these can begin to misalign your child’s bite and teeth. You should also avoid giving a child milk, formula, or juice just before they nap or sleep, as during a period of sleep.
Parents can help their children learn proper oral hygiene by example too. Simply start making a habit of brushing and flossing in front of your children and letting them watch. They will start to learn the proper way to do it if show them.
Early dental care is important, show your children that it is and they will start developing good habits early.
The AGD have a lot of information on this subject as well: see here.
Stay healthy my friends.