Dental Health and Children
There has always been debate about when to bring your kiddo into the dental office for their first dental appointment. Oral health and good dental habits start with that very first visit. The reason for this is because the first dental visit for any child is defining and memorable. Even if it is as simple as just counting teeth and sitting in the big dental chair, it’s a giant leap towards being comfortable with being at the dentist office. It’s understandable that most kids might feel weary of their first dental visit, but if you start them young the results are usually very positive. We recommend that parents bring their kids into the dentists between the ages of 2 and 3. By 2 they are already almost in full dentition and by 3 they possibility of getting cavities, are very high.
Is 2 years old too young? Why can’t I wait until they get their permanent teeth?
Actually it is not too young! The reason for this is because most kids have all their baby teeth by the age of 2. Baby teeth enamel is softer than that of adult enamel; which gives way to the higher risk of cavities and decay. And even though kids get a second set of teeth when their adult teeth erupt, ramped decay in baby teeth can affect the growth of the adult teeth and in some cases can cause decay in the adult tooth if the adult tooth is on the verge of erupting hence why you want to be proactive and bring your kids in when they have their baby teeth.
There are two main reasons why we ask parents to bring their kids into the dental office at this age.
- Familiarity and Comfort: Studies have shown the younger the dental patient, the better the dental patient in the future. Even if it’s scary for them at first, children will have a greater appreciation for oral health and dental care.
- Examination: Even if we are just counting teeth and there is no decay, an exam is vital to the longevity of the oral cavity. Sometimes we find decay and oral issues that might need to be addressed even in baby teeth. And, because children’s enamel is softer than adult enamel, children’s decay rates are triple of that of an adult.
What are the advantages of bringing children to the dentist at an early age?
Since most kids will not get their permanent adult teeth until around 6-12 years old, it is best to maintain what they do have. The advantage of seeing a dentist so young is to assist in the encouragement of good oral hygiene habits and regular checkups to maintain decay levels.
When you child begins to lose their teeth there are some key reinforcement points we like to have parents encourage.
1. Encourage and show your child how to floss their teeth and do this before bedtime
2. Limit the amount of sugary drinks and foods especially in between meals and nighttime.
3. Remind your child to brush their teeth while you monitor and help where needed. The most important part of this is process, developing a habit and making this a part of your child’s regular routine.
4. See the dentist regularly 1-2 times a year is sufficient. Because decay can grow very quickly with children, we encourage parents to bring their kids 2 x’s year for their examinations, x-rays (when old enough) and polishing/cleaning and fluoride.
By creating good habits at an early age, you are not only setting up your children for a life of good oral hygiene but also an understanding of the importance of bi-annual dental visits and oral health.