When was the last time you took your kids for their first dental exams or had them take care of their first tooth brushing themselves? If you’re lucky enough that your children haven’t started teething, you don’t need to worry too much about their teeth and gums until they have problems. But the good news is that they will need regular checkups and dental visits once they get those first baby teeth.
Dental problems are common in children, but they often go untreated until they become serious. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that children see their dentist twice during their first year. The first visits should occur at six weeks old (or before) and every three months after that. This helps ensure good oral hygiene and prevents early tooth decay and gum disease.
Although tooth decay usually starts during childhood, parents often assume their children won’t get cavities because they brush their teeth daily. In reality, nearly half of children have developed tooth decay by age six. That’s why you shouldn’t hesitate to make your child’s first visit to a dentist.
Why Visit a Pediatric Dentist
Children’s oral health should not differ from that of adults. Otherwise, this can make getting them into the dental office for regular checkups difficult. Childrens dentist specialize in treating children to help treat kids’ oral health issues. When kids have an early visit to a pediatric dentist, they can learn how to brush, floss, and get their first tooth removed. These visits can also allow parents and caregivers to observe and discuss the child’s learning.
Pediatric dentists receive extensive training that specializes in general dentistry through school and clinical experience. They treat young patients and focus their practice on preventing future dental problems.
Early Dental Care Begins at Home
You can start teaching your children about dental care from their first dentist visit. As they age, bring them into the office at least once yearly for cleaning. This way, they’ll have a good understanding of how cleanings work before going to the dentist. If you’re concerned that your young child has brushed too much or not enough, ask them to show you what they’ve been doing.
Your First Visit to a Dentist
Your child’s first doctor visit takes place around six months, but their first dental checkup usually happens between one and two years old. By this time, they may be ready to go through the tooth-brushing routine, and you can expect a general exam to include checking teeth, gums, and jaw alignment. In addition, the dentist may recommend fluoride treatment or cleaning and sealants to help prevent cavities.
Helps Prevent Cavities
Eating sugary foods leads to cavities, and cavities lead to pain and infection. The American Academy of Children Dentistry recommends that parents take their children to a pediatric dentist for their first visit. Regular visits allow dentists to monitor a child’s oral habits, including brushing and flossing, so they can catch any problems early. They also allow parents to discuss oral hygiene habits with their kids. By cleaning teeth regularly and removing plaque buildup before it turns into tartar, dentists can help prevent future cavities.
Oral Hygiene Starts With First Appointment
Children need to see a dentist at least once by age one and then every six months until age five. In fact, 20% of children who don’t receive their first dental checkup until five to 11 years are more likely to develop tooth decay than those who do by age one. At this stage, the primary focus is maintaining a healthy smile through routine cleaning and the prevention of tooth decay. Children who receive early dental visits are less likely to develop bad habits later in life. If kids can see their parents brushing their teeth, they will assume that this is something they should do too. This means that they have learned responsibility early on.
Prevent Gum Disease
Bacteria that produce acid in our mouths cause tooth decay. These bacteria usually live in areas where we have poor oral hygiene, like between our teeth, under our gums, and even inside our cheeks. However, you can protect your child from gum disease by taking proper care of their teeth and gums. If not treated early enough, the condition can lead to periodontal (gum) problems. Regular checkups will help ensure you catch this problem before it becomes severe.
Improve a Child’s Overall Well-being
Besides having healthier teeth, early childhood dental health improves the overall health and wellness of a kid. In fact, children who receive early dental checkups and cleanings are less likely to have asthma and allergies. They’re also less likely to develop ear infections, respiratory illness, diabetes, and heart disease. Children with healthy teeth can eat foods that keep them full longer.
If you wait until your child has teeth to schedule their first appointment with the dentist, you will spend more on treatment than if you had planned an earlier appointment. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), the average cost of a pediatric dental exam is $50, while the average price of a comprehensive exam is $100.
As a parent, you shouldn’t wait until tooth decay has progressed into advanced stages. Early dental visits increase the chance of treating dental issues without resorting to invasive procedures like root canal therapy or extraction.
Children Look Forward to Seeing the Dentist
Besides preventing tooth decay, early dental visits help kids feel better about themselves. Younger kids enjoy coming to the children’s dentist for regular visits. Seeing the doctor gives them something positive they can look forward to. When parents schedule preventive care, they set an excellent example for their children about how to take care of themselves. When kids feel good about themselves, they are happier and healthier.
Preventing Jaw Joint Problems
Dentists recommend having regular checkups around six months old. Children’s jaws are underdeveloped by this age. There are several bones in jaw joints, including condyles and malleus. These bones work together to provide stability for the jaw joint. However, if children do not develop strong jaw joint muscles, this could cause the bone to become misaligned, resulting in TMJ disorders. At four, children typically start developing muscle control. Therefore, parents must help them develop proper chewing habits early to avoid complications.
Preventing Crooked Teeth
If you allow your children to eat whatever they want without brushing their teeth, you could set them up for crooked jaws and a less-than-perfect smile. As they grow older, they will start developing the correct muscles for chewing. Brushing your child’s teeth twice daily will help ensure these muscles develop correctly. Children may suffer from malocclusion without proper muscle development, which refers to misaligned jaws. Making early dental appointments may detect this problem in children. If left untreated, it may require surgery or other expensive treatments.
Detecting Oral Cancers
Oral cancers are prevalent among children because their small mouths make them more susceptible to bacteria and viruses than adults. Early detection is critical in treating this condition and ensuring good health for your little ones. Kids under 18 should have regular checkups with children’s dentists to ensure they do not suffer from periodontal disease. If left untreated, this disease leads to gum recession, tooth loss, inflammation of the gums and teeth, and may even spread the infection to other body parts.
An Esthetic Benefit
Providing your child with their first examination at a young age can have an excellent aesthetic look. That comes into play when we consider how parents enjoy seeing their children smile. They often notice how bright their child’s eyes look and how beautiful their pearly whites are. They want their kids to experience these positive attributes, too. Parents love seeing other children’s smiling faces and know how rewarding it is to show off their smiles to loved ones.
Preventing Bad Breath
The best way to prevent the dreaded bad breath in our children is to visit a dentist. If not treated, this uncomfortable nuisance can last until adulthood. Fortunately, visiting the dentist can prevent bad breath. When we brush our teeth twice daily, we remove bacteria that contribute to halitosis. Keeping the area around our mouth clean prevents germs from building up and causes odors to dissipate.
Tips To Make a Child’s First Dental Visit Less Stressful
Your kid’s first trip to the dentist is probably already terrifying enough. Luckily, you can get them through the experience with a bit of guidance. Follow these simple tips, and they’ll leave their first dental visit feeling confident and prepared.
Have a Plan Before Arrival
Ensure your child has the right time and attention to prepare for their first dentist’s appointment. Most children get nervous about going to the dentist. They may fear shots, unfamiliar surroundings, and even losing their teeth. But through good planning, children can feel better prepared and less stressed at the dentist’s office.
Provide Plenty of Information
When children enter the dentist’s office, they are often overwhelmed and nervous about their upcoming visit. Providing them with ample information about what to expect makes the first visit much smoother for everyone involved. This includes talking about how the teeth fit together when they are healthy, discussing ways to keep your mouth clean, and explaining that you will put something cold inside their mouth to help numb their gums.
Being anxious can negatively influence your child’s behavior. Therefore, keep calm because if you become too stressed, you can end up hurting your child instead of helping them. Even though it seems like your child might do something wrong, remain calm and explain what they are doing incorrectly. This will ensure they learn and improve. Try being positive and encouraging rather than negative and critical.
Take Along a Favorite Toy or Book
Some children find comfort in holding a particular object from home. Ensure to carry a toy or a book to keep them busy during the visit. This could also provide an extra distraction to keep the child calm and focused on positive thoughts around visiting the dentist. Create some fun activities to distract your child. Playing games or doing puzzles can be beneficial. Remember that these activities must be age-appropriate and appropriate for the environment. For instance, playing board games would probably not apply in a hospital setting
Taking pictures of your child’s smiling face before the visit will give them something positive to look forward to, helping them forget their mouths full of tools and instruments. Keep a camera handy throughout the appointment. It will be helpful to capture images of your child during the visit and afterward. Before arriving at your dentist’s office, prepare your child for their first visit. Prepare them emotionally by asking them what they can do to make themselves feel better. Let them know their teeth will be cleaned, brushed, and examined. Also, let them know the doctor will use special tools to check their teeth. This helps children feel less anxious before visiting the dentist.
Music helps reduce stress and anxiety, and playing familiar songs can distract a child from their surroundings. You could also turn on some soothing classical music if your child enjoys that type of sound.
Young children shouldn’t wait too long before their first visit to the dentist. If you notice even slight changes in your little one’s oral hygiene habits, schedule them for an early checkup. Remember, you should always contact your pediatrician before scheduling the first appointment. Give us a call today for more information.