Taking care of your child’s teeth is just one of the many responsibilities that parents have. However, parents are often surprised at how early they should begin regular dental visits. The American Dental Academy (ADA) recommends that all children should visit the dentist by the time they reach their first birthdays. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also backs up this recommendation, leaving many parents wondering why their children need to visit the dentist when they hardly have any teeth?
There are Four Specific Reasons why such an early age is recommended for the start of oral health care:
- Allow children to become comfortable at the dentist. Dental phobias are rampant across the United States, and are often cited as being the reason that people do not receive the dental care that they need. It is the belief from both the ADA and AAP that when children are brought in to the dentist on a routine basis from a very young age, that visiting the dentist is a natural part of life. The dentist and dental hygienist will not be viewed or feared as strangers and the procedures will not be scary or foreign to them. This alone promotes a lifetime of proactive dental care.
- Educated parents about proper oral health for young children. The gums and first baby teeth to erupt need to be cared for just like older and permanent teeth. Once solid foods are introduced to a baby’s diet, their teeth should be brushed twice a day. Many parents unknowingly neglect their children’s developing teeth simply because there are so few to care for. However, parents who are educated about how early prevention is the best form of dental care, understand that brushing the gums and few teeth that their babies have is extremely important.
- Discuss and break bad oral habits. Pacifiers and thumbs/fingers are often seen as “life savers” to parents. They are used to help very young children calm down and comfort themselves. While this is a normal habit for young children, it is also one that needs to be broken at an early age. The use of a pacifier or the thumb/fingers beyond age one can be detrimental to the development of the teeth positions inside the jaw. Breaking this habit early on can prevent a great deal of issues from occurring. Children who are allowed to fall asleep at the breast or with a bottle of milk/formula must discontinue this habit. Milk coats the teeth in sugar and it will begin to eat away at the tooth enamel if not brushed away before bed.
- Identify the link between diet and oral health. Juice, candy, soda, sweet tea – none of these have any place in a child’s diet. All of these put a child’s teeth at a very high risk for cavities and decay because they are laden with sugars and acids that cause serious deterioration in the mouth. Parents must understand the link between their child’s diet and their oral health.
At Smiles by Seese we are here to partner with parents to promote optimal oral health. Bringing your child in for his or her first appointment at an early age allows us to develop a friendly and trusting relationship with your child, and it allows us to set your child up for a successful dental future. Contact us today!