When Should You Start Your Child’s Dental Care?
As a parent of a young child, you might be wondering when the right time is for his or her first visit dental visit. This is an important consideration, and the latest recommendations for pediatric dental care may surprise many new parents. However, it’s important to make sure that your young children have a good experience with their early dental visits, which can establish healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
For many parents, with the hectic schedule that goes along with young kids, worrying about the dentist is something that can be put off unless there is an obvious problem. However, as any pediatric dentist will tell you, early teeth need just as much care as adult ones, and so it’s a good idea to have your child regularly checked out to avoid more severe problems down the road.
At Jody Jones, DDS, our team is dedicated to working with parents to make sure their child’s oral health is properly cared for.
When should your child make their first trip to the dentist?
It’s a sad truth that many parents don’t realize the importance of looking after their children’s early teeth. Of course, the milestone of their child’s first tooth is right next to their first words and initial steps as one of the most memorable moments. But the reality is that the early stages of teeth development are very important in terms of future dental health, not just through childhood, but also for the rest of their life.
In 2021, most pediatric dentists suggest that a young child have their first dental visit around their first birthday. This is because this age range is usually within six months of their first tooth eruption. Tooth eruption is the scientific term for when a tooth breaks through the gums and is first exposed to the air. For the average child, the first tooth will appear around the six-month mark, and so six months after this will be around when they turn one.
Many parents wonder why a visit would be necessary at such a young age. They believe that’s much too early for cavities to manifest. But pediatric dentists are concerned about more than just tooth decay. It’s very important to assess how the teeth are growing in, whether they are properly aligned, and check for signs of any kind of infection, including to the gums and tongue. We like to catch any indications of trouble as early as possible to make it easier to treat.
The importance of baby teeth
It’s common for the prevailing attitude about baby teeth to be they aren’t that important, since they will fall out after a few years anyway. Most people believe it’s only the permanent adult teeth we have to worry about. This is a justifiable assumption, but unfortunately it is very misguided and can lead to serious problems and complications.
The simple truth is, as any dentist experienced working with children will tell you, baby teeth have an essential role to play in early child development. The baby teeth are essential for children to learn to eat hard food, speak, and smile. They also set the stage for the eventual introduction of your permanent teeth, and influence the alignment of the jaw and orientation of the adult teeth. So, for instance, if for some reason your child loses a baby tooth early, this can impact the spacing of your adult teeth.
Moreover, while it is true that a decaying baby tooth can be removed, tooth decay is often a sign of other oral problems. Dental hygiene is very much about the bacteria present in your mouth, which if not properly treated leads to plaque, gingivitis, and other health problems. That’s why a dentist is paying attention to much more than just cavities.
Your child’s first dental visit: What to expect
Young parents are understandably worried bringing their child to the dentist for the first time. But fortunately, one of the reasons it’s recommended that children start visiting the dentist at such a young age is that a one-year-old will often have an easier time adapting to this strange experience than an older child. Getting them accustomed to the dentist early will make it easier as they get older.
A first visit will normally be relatively short. The check up will give the dentist a chance to inspect your child’s new teeth, and their jaw and gums, as well as their bite alignment and general oral health. But more than just the inspection, the idea is to start to build a relationship with your child and allow them to become familiar with the experience of having a dentist look into their mouth.
If everything goes well, the dentist will also perform some soft brushing of the teeth, aiming to get rid of any plaque build up that’s already begun to occur. The goal of course is to prevent any cavities in their baby teeth. We’ll also give you some general advice on how to take care of your child’s teeth moving forward, and what problem signs to look for. The teething process can lead to some pain or discomfort, and we’ll discuss general approaches that parents can take with regards to their child’s overall oral health.
Finally, if you’re concerned about bringing in your child for their first visit, or if your child has any special health or behavioral issues that may make a visit more challenging, don’t hesitate to reach out to us so we can discuss your child’s situation in more detail. Our number one goal is to work with parents to make sure that their children have healthy smiles from age one to one hundred.
Your Nashville, Tennessee Pediatric Dentist Specialists
At Jody Jones, DDS, we understand that caring for your children is your top priority, and we always treat our child patients as if they were members of our own family. Establishing good dental habits at a young age will ensure your young ones grow up with a healthy and attractive smile, and enable them to go through life with the right approach to oral care.
Contact one of our friendly staff members today to schedule an appointment for you and your loved ones.