Do you have an infant and you’re wondering what the right age is for their dentist visit? There are mixed reviews from new parents regarding when to take a child for their first dental appointment.
Some parents think that it’s unnecessary for a child to visit a paediatric dental clinic before their first teeth fall off, and new teeth grow. Others prefer to wait until there’s a problem.
However, the reputable American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that you must take your child for the visit by their first birthday. The organization also suggests a checkup as soon as the first tooth shows up.
Reasons why the first birthday should be the cut-off age for the first dentist checkup:
Tooth decay starts as early as one year
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, cavities or tooth decay is one of the leading childhood chronic conditions.
As much as 1 in 5 children (20%) suffers from at least one or more untreated cavities. Although it might seem farfetched, untreated tooth decay can have adverse effects on your child’s developmental milestones. The pain and infections resulting from untreated tooth decay can leave your child unable to;
A dentist conducts a detailed evaluation
Some children are more prone to early tooth decay than others. It’s paramount to find out whether your child could be at risk, to help avert the situation.
During your first visit, the dentist will conduct a thorough assessment and advise you on whether your child already has tooth decay or is at risk.
The dentist will start early treatment
If the dentist detects a problem, he’ll treat the cavity/cavities, before an infection develops. The dentist is also likely to use a fluoride varnish to prevent further decay or to avoid corrosion in a tooth that is not affected.
The dentist will advise on aftercare
Remember that tooth decay can develop further down the line, even when your child does not have any signs. The dentist at the paediatric dental clinic will advise you on the best oral hygiene to prevent further decay or avoid decay in healthy teeth even those that don’t have any signs of infection. The aftercare treatment will involve things like;
Brushing and flossing the teeth after every meal
Regular brushing and flossing of teeth are mandatory, even if the child only has one tooth. The actions remove food particles and plaque that contribute to the development of cavities.
If your child is two years and above, the doctor will advise on using a toothpaste containing fluoride as it prevents tooth decay. Use a pea-sized amount as too much fluoride is unhealthy. Always encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste after brushing instead than swallowing it.
Better food choices
Sugary foods and snacks are a significant contributor to the development of cavities. Ensure that your child’s diet is rich in fruits and vegetables instead of sweets and cookies. The dentist will also advise you on healthier snack alternatives for your child.
Children that eat healthier foods are likely to make healthier choices as adults so it is an important part of your child’s development.
It’s paramount to do due diligence when it comes to choosing a paediatric dental clinic for your child. Choose a hospital that has certifications to deal with infants and toddlers. Such a clinic will have dentists that know how to deal with children under the age of five and will also do a quality and professional job.