It is imperative for parents to understand how important it is to take their children to the dentist from a very young age. Approximately 1 out of every 3 children will develop a cavity before they begin losing their baby teeth. It is a parent’s complete responsibility to care for their young children’s teeth, and taking children in to the dentist from the very start is part of that responsibility. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association both agree that children should be taken to the dentist for their first appointment by the time children reach 12 months of age. Many parents are shocked to learn that they have already missed this window, and question the need to bring children in at such a young age.
There are three specific reasons while early dental treatment is important for very young children:
- Early exposure allows children to become comfortable at the dentist’s office. Millions of Americans suffer from dental anxieties that prevent them from getting the oral health care that they need. It is believed that many, if not most, of these anxieties can be avoided by an early exposure to the dentist. Children who are brought in to the dentist’s office from the very start understand that visiting the dentist is simply a part of life. It is a normal occurrence that happens twice a year. They know what to expect, and they are comfortable with the procedures and experience.
- Educate parents on proper oral care for their children. Baby teeth are extremely susceptible to developing cavities due to the fast rate at which they erupt, improper or infrequent brushing, and dietary choices. Parents are completely responsible for the care of their children’s teeth until they are old enough to care for them – usually around the age of 6 (with parental supervision still required). This not only includes the parents brushing their children’s teeth at least twice a day, but it also includes making responsible food and drink choices for their children. Juice, soda, sweet tea, and candy have no place in a children’s diets. They are laden with sugar, and they leave the teeth incredible vulnerable to decay.
- Identify and break bad oral habits. This is often one of the most difficult areas to address with parents. Children who use a pacifier or suck on their thumbs or fingers need to be broken of this habit as early as possible. While pacifiers, thumbs, and fingers often offer great comfort to children, they also leave the mouth susceptible to improper development. Pressure from sucking on pacifiers or thumbs/fingers will misalign the teeth over time. Children’s palates are very pliable, and will change shape when sucking is prolonged. This misalignment not only leads to the need for orthodontic treatment, but it makes cleaning the teeth more difficult. It is also important that children past the age of 12 months never be allowed to fall asleep with a bottle or at the breast. Formula and breast milk bathe the teeth in sugar, and when the teeth are not brushed before children fall asleep, these sugars attack the teeth and quickly cause cavities.
Pure Dental Health understands the need for all patients to receive exceptional dental care, from the youngest patients to the oldest. Call now to schedule an appointment.
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