Posted on 09/27/2018
Have you ever wondered when you should take your child to the dentist for the first time? As a parent, you’ve probably heard contradictory pieces of advice on this topic. Should you wait until 2 or 3 years old? When the first baby tooth appears? Or maybe when all of their baby teeth have grown in?
You may be surprised that The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association (ADA) recommend that a child’s first visit should be when their first tooth grows in. For some babies that first tooth comes very early in life. Others may not start getting teeth until closer to the first birthday. All children should see a dentist by age 2. Introducing children to regular visits and proper dental care at an early age will start them on the road to a healthy smile that will last them a lifetime.
What to Expect
The first dental visit should be an adventure; one for the baby book. The purpose is to introduce a child to the office in a non-threatening way. Taking a ride in the chair and being allowed to explore and touch some of the instruments may be what most of the visit is dedicated to. Once your child is comfortable with the hygienist, Dr. Imm will take a quick peek in their mouth to check for gum health and any other problems that may affect their teeth, speech, or airway.
Dental Care for Growing Children
Dental care needs change with each stage of development.
2 to 3 Years
- Toddlers should have a dental visit every 6 months beginning at 2 years old.
- They should begin flossing between teeth when the two front teeth are touching each other.
- The should be brushing teeth every day to prevent cavities. Research has shown that children who get cavities in baby teeth are more likely to get cavities in their permanent teeth.
- The ADA recommends children three years of age and younger use a smear of fluoride toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice for brushing in the morning and evening. Children 3 years old should use a pea-sized dot of toothpaste.
4 to 6 Years
Most children will have the first set of dental X-rays taken around 5 or 6 years old when the permanent teeth begin to come in. There is no set age or recommendation. If there are specific conditions or concerns, such as cleft palate or if a child drinks out of a lot of sippy cups or bottles they may have X-rays taken at an earlier age.
- Monitor brushing time to make sure the toothpaste is going down the drain and not down the throat. You may increase the amount of fluoride toothpaste used when your little one masters the art of spitting in the sink. Until then keep the amount to a minimum in case it is swallowed.
- The newest research shows that this is best time to start thinking about orthodontics. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends orthodontic intervention as soon as a skeletal problem is identified if it is not likely to self-correct. Most kids wait until their early teen years to get braces, but by then it may be too late for your child to keep all of his or her teeth.
6 to 12 Years
The baby teeth start falling out around the age of 6. This is the age of prevention and the time to really start encouraging good oral hygiene.
- Sealants to protect teeth, especially the molars, from decay are usually recommended between the ages of 7 and 9, and again when the 12-year molars erupt.
- If needed, an orthodontic evaluation will definitely be recommended by 7 years old, at the latest.
Proper nutrition is essential for maintaining dental health at all ages. It is especially important for children. What, when and how you feed your children is important to their overall physical growth and oral health. Diets that are good for the body are also good for the teeth.
- Avoid sugary foods and drinks. The bacteria in the mouth thrive on sugar.
- Discourage frequent snacking which leads to increased food residue and bacteria in the mouth.
- Provide a balanced, healthy diet.
- Use vitamin supplements as recommended by your pediatrician.
- Serve plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Offer unsweetened, non-caffeinated beverages. Water is always a good choice.
- Chewy and crunchy foods, such as nuts and steak, can aid in the development of the facial bones and encourage correct swallowing patterns. Introduce these foods as early as your child is able to chew them.
- The Right Tools for the Job
If you have walked down any dental care aisle in any supermarket or drugstore you know how overwhelming and confusing it can be to choose the best product for your needs. For oral care in kids, it pays to make the right choice. Little things like choosing the right size toothbrush or the best toothpaste can make a difference in preventing cavities and maintaining oral health. The best advice anyone can give you is to avoid playing guessing games and just ask a professional.
Snoring and Your Child
Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that every child who snores be evaluated by a Sleep Physician? That’s right. Early snoring can be a sign of an obstructed airway, which can lead to several health problems and will ultimately affect how your child’s face grows and develops. Dr. Imm is very passionate about your and your child’s airway health, so don’t be surprised if he asks you about our child’s sleep, and maybe even refers you to an Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist (ENT).
You want to make the right pediatric dental choices for your family. To do that you need to be informed. Ask questions and do research. Use the right products at the right age. Get the best care for your kids that you can. 5Points Advanced Dentistry is one of your most valuable resources. We are here to help children stay healthy and to teach them how to properly care for their teeth.