Did you know that caring for your child’s teeth at an early age can set them up for excellent oral health for life? As a parent, you want what’s best for your children. And one of the most valuable things you can do for them is to start them on a good foot with dental care. As they grow, a healthy set of teeth boosts their confidence, prevents other health complications, and helps prevent costly and extensive dental work in the future. 

At Park Meadows Dental in Medicine Hat, our family dentists offer children’s dentistry in a friendly, compassionate, and relaxed environment. Starting your child on a good oral hygiene routine early is vital for ensuring they continue healthy dental habits well into adulthood. 

Your child’s first dental appointment

If you’re wondering when to start your child on a good oral hygiene routine, the answer is: as soon as possible! Even at infanthood, we recommend gently cleaning their gums with a cloth dampened with warm water and brushing as soon as the first tooth erupts.

You can book your child’s first dental appointment when the first tooth erupts or after their first birthday. Of course, the first appointment is nothing extensive. We simply want to help your child feel comfortable and familiar with visiting the dentist regularly. The focus is on building trust between your child and their family dentist. We show them the different tools, explain the different sounds they hear, and help relieve any nervousness or anxiety they may be feeling about visiting the dentist.

During this time, we will do a simple inspection of their teeth and gums. We look for early signs of: 

  • Excessive thumb sucking
  • Teeth grinding
  • Baby bottle tooth decay
  • Baby teeth loos

We will also answer your questions about what to do for pain during teething, pacifier habits, and what to look out for that may be of concern. 

Common dental problems in children

Your child’s dental health is one of the most crucial matters as this is the time they are going through rapid growth. Your child’s oral health plays a critical role in developing their speech and chewing. This includes their teeth, gums, tongue placement, and jaw growth. Some of the most common children’s dental problems are:

  • Tooth decay

Children aren’t yet thorough with brushing and flossing and often have a diet full of sweets. Improper brushing and sugar are two of the main contributors to tooth decay. To prevent cavities, be sure to help your child brush and floss thoroughly until they can firmly grasp and control their toothbrush. As much as possible, limit sweets and offer foods rich in calcium like cheese, milk, and yogurt.

  • Tongue thrust

Tongue thrust is a natural reflex that helps with feeding during infancy. The tongue pushes out to help babies breast-feed or bottle-feed and is the body’s natural way to prevent choking on a foreign object. 

This reflex should naturally go away as the child grows and is considered normal until about 6 months of age. When the habit persists, it is classified as an oral myofunctional disorder which can cause misalignment issues and interfere with speaking and swallowing. Tongue thrust can be caused by excessive thumb sucking, the prolonged use of pacifiers and bottles, teeth grinding, allergies, a tongue tie, or an enlarged tongue.

  • Shark teeth 

The term “shark teeth” refers to an adult tooth erupting behind the baby tooth before the baby tooth has a chance to fall out. This is a common issue that is not considered a dental emergency. The situation usually resolves on its own, but our family dentists in Medicine Hat will keep a close eye and recommend intervention when necessary.

  • Misalignment and bite issues

It’s rare for children to have naturally straight teeth and a perfectly aligned bite. With children’s dentistry, we take a look at how the adult teeth are coming in, and whether we need to apply interventions such as a dental spacer to prevent shifting and retainers. Once the adult teeth are in, we can recommend braces or aligners as needed.

Book your child’s next appointment with us at Park Meadows Dental in Medicine Hat. We are accepting new patients and offer instant financing. 

Medically reviewed by Dr. Gurshant Grew - D.D.S. on July 12, 2022

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