Many children never see a dentist until they are over the age of 2 years old. This is a lot later than is advised by dental professionals because at around six months of age the primary teeth usually start to develop.
We spoke to a dental practitioner from BrightSmile Glenmore Dental Centre who recommends that children visit the dentist by the time they turn 1 year old or by the time they develop their first tooth. This simple action can greatly improve their dental health throughout their lifespan.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) stresses the importance of keeping primary teeth intact until the child loses them naturally. These primary teeth are important because they:
- Help to save space for permanent teeth.
- Promote a healthy smile that helps children feel good about the way they look.
- Are involved in speech development.
- Help children chew properly to maintain good nutrition.
Children’s primary teeth are critical to lifetime oral health and parents need to be aware of this through proper education by the dental community. They should also be taught the proper techniques of flossing and brushing to preserve oral health and in turn, teach this to their children. Children can learn a great deal about caring for the teeth from their first dental check-up.
Explaining dental visits to your children
It’s imperative that your child knows what they’re about to encounter at the dental office. It’s good to describe some of the machinery and let them know beforehand what the dentist would require of them. You can even practice with them to open their mouths wide so that the dentist could have an easier job and your child will be at ease having gone through this sort of thing before.
You can also take your child along when you need to visit the dentist, so that way, they can familiarize themselves with the process. Or you can have them learn about it from books and websites online that teach children the importance of oral hygiene and dental check-ups.
You can also role-play by taking turns with your children being the dentist and patient and examine their teeth and have them examine yours so that when this actually happens they won’t be afraid. It’s never advisable to force your child to submit to a dental examination as this can affect their relationship with dentists for their entire lives.
Ideally, your child’s first dental visit shouldn’t be to do any actual work on their mouth, but instead, this could be a great opportunity to have your child explore the dental office and familiarize themselves with all the equipment. This would put them at ease and make them comfortable when the time comes for an actual dental procedure. During this time the dentist can also do a quick examination and look for any issues such as tooth decay and issues with the gums.
Frequency of Dental visits
After the first visit, it is recommended that your child sees the dentist every 6 months unless there’s an issue with their teeth such as teeth grinding, injuries, lisp, or mouth breathing. On the second visit to your dentist, any issues that arise may be addressed. And this should be easier because of the rapport built previously with the dentist.
Some children are confident enough to be left alone with their dentist while their parents attend to other matters. The hospital and staff can be a bit scary for some toddlers so you have to know your child’s personality.
Your child should have full dental appointments by the time he or she is about 3 years old. At 5 years old they are ready for dental x-rays if they can manage it and with advancements in technology it’s usually quick and seamless.
The bottom line is that as parents you recognize the need to have proper oral health for yourself and your children. You can achieve this through diligence in oral hygiene practices like flossing and brushing regularly. Also, you can invest in a great mouthwash but all of these need to be used in conjunction with regular dental visits. Your dentist would be able to give you the best information after a thorough examination is complete.
With proper dental care your child will be smiling and so will you!
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