For many families, there is some debate about when dental care should begin. For parents who want to put off regular dental visits, many justify the decision by noting that a child’s baby teeth will eventually be replaced.
Unfortunately, this mindset not only wreaks havoc on a child’s teeth but creates a long-lasting impact on how they view dental health.
The result is a child who does not understand the importance of preventing cavities, maintaining good oral health, or participating in good dental habits later on.
Experts Recommend Starting Early
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend children begin seeing a pediatric dentist by the time they reach their first birthday. This is true even if your child has not broken any teeth by this time.
The reason behind this early dental treatment is twofold:
- It normalizes going to the dentist from an early age, making it more likely to instill good dental habits and reduce fear of the dentist
- It serves as a screening for early childhood cavities
This second point is particularly important as a majority of young children suffer from cavities at one point or another. In fact, 20% of children aged 2-5 and 56% of children aged 6-11 experience dental caries. If left to persist, these caries can spread to other teeth and even cause infection.
Children have the same dental diseases as adults
As stated above, children are not safe from dental problems. In fact, because children are just beginning to learn about their oral health, it is very likely they will be at risk for dental problems as a result of incorrect cleaning.
Due to these factors, the leading disease amongst children are actually dental caries (tooth decay). These are cavities that begin as small, surface-level pockets but quickly cause large amounts of damage.
Just because your child has dental caries does not mean their oral health has been neglected, however. Children are actually prone to these challenges because primary teeth (also known as baby teeth) are far softer than their permanent counterparts. This softness increases the likelihood of tooth decay in addition to the likelihood that such decay will spread to other parts of the mouth.
If cavities are left to persist, they can cause pain and discomfort while leading to an unexpectedly large dental bill to fix the problem— especially if your child needs anesthesia to complete the dental procedures.
This topic is extremely important and we encourage you to read out other resources on the matter and to make an appointment with your dentist right away if you believe your child might be suffering.
Other Potential Troubles
While less common than tooth decay, children are also known to suffer from other dental challenges. These include:
- Gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis
- Over-retained baby teeth
- Impacted permanent teeth
- Grinding and/or clenching
- Halitosis (common chronic disease resulting in bad breath due to an underlying cause)
- Tooth sensitivity
An Opportunity to Educate
We know that when children are young, they repeat almost everything they see their parents do. This useful survival skill is one of the reasons our children learn so fast, even if what they are learning is less than ideal.
For dental care, the same rules apply, making pediatric dentistry a learning opportunity that your child can take with them the rest of their lives. Instilling good habits starts early with conversations about the following topics being important for cultivating a lifetime of healthy teeth:
- Explaining good brushing habits, such as brushing twice a day and brushing the teeth correctly
- How brushing prevents cavities
- The importance of good toothpaste (we recommend a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste for children)
- Proper flossing habits
What you teach your child today will build the foundation for the rest of their lives. It’s best to start off on the right food to give them the greatest chance of a lifetime of healthy smiles.
A Family Dentist in Mesa Arizona
While we like to be a source of information for anyone researching on the internet, East Valley Dental Practice has its actual home in Mesa, Arizona. Established in the 1980s, we take great pride in having local clients who receive the best dental care and the best service.
If you are in Arizona, don’t hesitate to give us a call at: 480-838-3033 so you can speak to a professional who can help answer your questions or set up an appointment to get a consultation. We are only one call away from a healthier smile.