Parents often wonder when they should schedule their child’s first dental appointment and teeth cleaning. In the sea of pediatrician’s appointments and exciting series of baby firsts, the dentist is one place parents might not think to visit.
However, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents take their children to the pediatric dentist as soon as their first baby teeth appear. That usually that occurs when kids are between 3 and 9 months old.
Visiting the dentist early in life for teeth cleaning helps children keep their baby teeth healthy and avoid cavities and other problems, such as tooth decay. Early visits also help keep dental costs low over a child’s first five years of life. According to the AAPD, children who visit the pediatric dentist during the first year of their lives see 40 percent lower dental costs over the next four years.
Despite the importance of visiting pediatric dentists, many parents are unaware of just how soon they should take their kids for a visit.
AAPD, in a 2010 survey, found that 97 percent of parents didn’t know that visits to the pediatric dentist were recommended so soon.
Beyond taking their children to the dentist, AAPD recommends that parents visit a dentist to get their adult teeth checked for cavities before the baby is born. If parents have good dental care habits, they will pass them onto their children.
Once the baby is born, AAPD recommends that parents wipe their baby’s mouth thoroughly after every time the child eats to encourage the growth of healthy baby teeth and prevent cavities. Healthy baby teeth promote healthy adult teeth later in life.
Baby teeth last into a child’s toddler years, and so ensuring those teeth remain healthy is very important. Parents should watch for signs their kids’ teeth need extra attention. Those signs include white spots or discoloration on the teeth. Those spots can lead to decay, which can cause pain or infection. AAPD says tooth decay in children can lead to lifelong consequences or, in rare cases, even death.
According to the dental experts at Natural Smiles, parents should begin flossing their children’s teeth as soon as two baby teeth grow in a row. Parents will also need to brush their children’s teeth as soon as baby teeth appear. Parents can expect to brush their kids’ teeth until the child reaches 5 or 7 years of age.
It’s not until 5 or 7 years old that children have the dexterity to brush their own teeth, according to AAPD.
To promote healthy baby teeth and later on, adult teeth, AAPD urges parents to avoid giving their young kids juice because sugary drinks can cause tooth decay. Instead, give your children water to drink.
Beyond making sure to take good care of your kids’ baby teeth so they grow into healthy adult teeth, the AAPD recommends having a go-to pediatric dentist so that parents have someone to call in case of an emergency.
It can be difficult to tell whether a child has damaged his teeth, and having a pediatric dentist on hand helps you assuage your fears that the worst-case scenario has occurred.