It is an exciting moment when your child’s first tooth comes through and it is also the time when you should schedule their first dental checkup. The American Dental Association suggests children visit a dentist by the age of 1, or as soon as they cut their first tooth. The oral care for a child’s primary teeth will play an important role in how their permanent teeth develop as well as their dental hygiene throughout adulthood.
Proper Oral Hygiene
One of the most important reasons to take children to the dentist early is to learn the correct way to clean their mouth. Correctly brushing and flossing will help to prevent the growth of bacteria. Bacteria can form in the mouth, even before all of the teeth are in. Bacteria can lead to:
- Gum disease
- Health problems later in life
Getting the Right Amount of Fluoride
Fluoride is vital for protecting the teeth against cavities, but many children do not get the correct amount of fluoride. For example, if your child drinks bottled water, there may not be any fluoride in the water. Your child’s dentist can provide fluoride treatments as well as prescribe additional fluoride supplements when necessary.
Building Healthy Relationships
When children begin visiting the dentist at an early age it helps them learn to “love” the dentist, instead of fearing the dentist. To help your children become familiar with the dentist it is often helpful to take them with you on your regular dental checkup or when older siblings visit the dentist.
Jaw Growth and Crooked Teeth
When your child is about the age of 7, the dentist will have a good idea on how their permanent teeth and jaws are developing, which helps them know if your child may need braces once all of their permanent teeth are in.
Transitioning From Bottle to Cup
Drinking from a bottle, especially while sleeping, can increase the risk of cavities. It is important to schedule a dental checkup when your child transitions from taking a bottle to drinking from a cup, so the dentist may do a set of X-rays, which will help to identify cavities that are not yet visible.
Thumb and/or Pacifier Sucking
If your child is a thumb sucker or regularly use a pacifier; it can affect the growth of their teeth. The dentist will be able to suggest ways to break these habits as well as examine the teeth for early damage.
It is easier for children with healthy teeth and gums to chew easily learn to speak clearer and have confidence in their smile. Early checkups prevent tooth decay, misaligned teeth and gum disease, all of which can lead to pain, medical problems and trouble concentrating.
The easiest way to promote strong health teeth and gums throughout life is to schedule a dental checkup early. Good oral hygiene begins before the first tooth comes through. Taking your child to the dentist as early as 6 months of age will allow you to learn the best way to clean their gums, tongue and mouth, which may help prevent problems when teeth do begin to grow and it helps the child become comfortable with visiting the dentist.
Author: Dr. Fakhimi graduated From University of Nevada with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. He then attended one of the top ranked dental schools in the country, Tufts University of Dental Medicine in Boston where he excelled in his class and received his Doctorate degree in 1997