Tooth decay has become a very common chronic disease in children aged between 6 and 11 years as well as teenagers between 12 and 19 years. In fact, according to the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), it is a lot more common than asthma and hay fever. By kindergarten age, many children have tooth decay. It is important for parents to start preventive care early in order to save money and enhance their children’s oral health in the long-run. Ideally, your child should have his or her first dentist visit by the time he or she is one year old.
Selecting Your Dentist
Ideally, a pediatric dentist should be chosen for your child’s oral health issues. Children’s bodies differ greatly from those of adults and so do their teeth. Pediatric dentists have expertise in these differences and should therefore be given preference over your own dentist.
The First Visit
Parents are advised to take their children for their first dental visit at their first birthday or when their first tooth appears, whichever is earlier. In the past, parents would take their children for a dentist visit when they turned three, but this was only because that was when a general dentist could handle a child. However, a lot of damage from cavities or tooth decay has often occurred by this time.
Children can begin using regular toothpaste by the time they turn three. In fact, if your child has enough control for potty training, he or she can spit out fluoridated toothpaste as well. Although children’s toothpastes are great for teaching children how to brush their teeth, they are also not very useful in protecting their teeth and oral health. On the other hand, avoid mouthwash until your child can definitely spit it all out. In addition, be sure to ask the dentist whether your child’s teeth require fluoride protection or a dental sealant.
It is also advisable to have you child brush his or her teeth after breakfast rather than before and also at night, ensuring nothing else is taken except water. This allows the teeth to mineralize throughout the night using the minerals in saliva as well as those from the toothpaste to enhance his or her oral health.
Pacifiers and Thumb Sucking
If your child sucks her thumb or uses a pacifier, this should not go beyond the third birthday. Prolonged use of pacifiers or thumb sucking could easily deform your child’s upper dental arch, causing oral health problems such as protruding teeth or cross bite. Damage caused before 3 years can easily be fixed, but further damage would probably require braces to fix the problem.
Many parents fail to take their toddlers to the dentist, arguing that the baby teeth will fall out anyway. It is important to understand that although they will fall out, even baby teeth have an impact on the overall oral health of your child even later on. For instance, bacteria progression in baby teeth is pretty fast, seeping through them and reaching the bone, which could cause dental infections that might become fatal. This may also cause poor formation of the enamel for adult teeth that could lead to permanent damage.