Taking children to the dentist at a young age helps set them up for lifelong healthy habits. Establishing a ‘dental home’ early also helps reduce the amount of anxiety that children can feel going to see a dentist. Often we see kids in an emergency for the first visit and it can be unnerving for a child. When the first visit is a positive one, focusing on education and maintenance, it helps to reduce dental anxiety. The best practice is to bring a child to the dental office when they turn 1 or when the first tooth comes out (usually a lower front tooth).
At the first visit the dentist examines your child’s teeth or “counts them” and also helps teach best practices for brushing. This helps to create rapport. Some children will even receive a gentle polish.
A lot of parents often ask if baby teeth are important. This is great question to ask.Baby teeth are really key in growth and development. They help with holding space, chewing and speaking. Often times if a child has cavities on their baby teeth, it can lead to tooth loss. When baby teeth are lost early, adult teeth can come in crooked or misaligned. Baby teeth are also important for eating and chewing. Having teeth to chew with that do not hurt or ache is important to get adequate nutritional intake. Baby teeth are also important for learning how to speak.
It’s also interesting that children with cavities or poor oral hygiene have been linked to poor school performance. Studies show that children who have cavities tend to have issues with both schoolattendance and grades. Children with tooth pain are four times more likely to have lower grade point averages than students without dental issues. Besides contributing to poor academic performances,oral hygiene issues contribute to more school absences. On average, children with dental issues miss up to three more days of school than students without dental problems.
At age 2 or as soon as a child is able to spit, they can start to use very minimal amount of toothpaste. Children’s teeth should be brushed by an adult using a minimal amount (a portion the size of a grain of rice) of fluoridated toothpaste.
Age 7 is when a child can start brushing their teeth on their own. As children get older, they develop better dexterity and hand-eye coordination. Age 7 is marked by acceptance of increasing responsibilities by the children making it an ideal age for teeth brushing on their own.
We are always around at Park Meadows if you need us, evenings and Saturdays too! We offer complimentary consults if you ever want to pop by and speak with any of dentists about questions or comments you might have.
Medically reviewed by Dr. Gurshant Grew - D.D.S. on February 16, 2019
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