Getting an early start on your child’s dental care is important for creating lifelong good habits. A dentist that specializes in pediatric dentistry will see children from infancy to their teen years. At your child’s appointments, your dentist will teach your children and you how to care for their teeth.
There is an assumption that baby teeth aren’t as crucial in regard to dental health since they naturally fall out and don’t carry into adulthood. The habits that are formed in childhood are necessary for adequate dental care. But issues with tooth decay can cause problems in adulthood if not treated properly.
When Should My Child See the Dentist?
Within the first six months of life, children start to develop their primary teeth—or baby teeth. When your child’s first tooth breaks through the gums, you should begin taking them to the dentist within six months to a year. A child should at least start seeing a dentist by the age of one to make sure they are screened properly to avoid developing dental problems.
Secondary teeth—or adult teeth—begin to replace baby teeth as they start falling out around the ages of six or seven. These are your child’s permanent teeth, and regular dental appointments are necessary to prevent major future issues, such as cavities or gum disease. Many children and teenagers play sports. Getting a custom mouth guard from your dentist will protect your child from potentially damaging or losing their teeth.
What Will My Child’s Appointment Look Like?
During your appointment, your dentist will counsel you (and your child) on how to take care of their teeth and begin to form good dental habits. At young ages, children may self-soothe by sucking their thumbs or a pacifier, which is a hard habit to break; a dentist can help you move through this habit and replace it with a better one.
Your child’s teeth, gums, jaw, and bite will be examined in order to determine their care. The earlier a child sees a dentist, the sooner your dentist will be able to diagnose and treat improper bite issues or provide early treatment to straighten teeth. Dentists can even detect oral conditions that are a result of diabetes, asthma, and ADHD—attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
You can expect your dentist to clean your child’s teeth to remove any plaque that has started to build. Unless your child’s teeth have not begun breaking the surface after a year old, infants and small children will not need to have X-rays taken for general checkups.
Many children don’t like to sit still for very long, especially for any type of medical or dental appointment. A lot of children (and adults) are afraid of going to the dentist. So it is important to begin taking them to their appointments while they are young to avoid dentist anxiety. During a pediatric dental appointment, dentists make the experience more comfortable by using specialized equipment and understanding children’s behavior.
Oral health is vital to your overall health. Your mouth is the entryway to the rest of your body. Keeping it healthy helps to protect the rest of your body. Forming these habits early will produce large benefits over a lifetime.