When should you start taking your child to see the dentist? Some recent research has gone against accepted norms and indicated that taking children before the age of two to the dentist is not beneficial. In fact, this could lead to a greater chance of developing cavities. As with any study, please take this information with a grain of salt. We mention this, because we feel like you shouldn’t stress too much about bringing your child if they aren’t even 2 yet.
Still, the question remains: when should you start taking your child to the dentist? And more importantly, who is the right Asheville dentist for your family? We’re biased when it comes to answering the second question, but hopefully this post will help you answer the first!
The Importance of Primary Teeth
The majority of American children do not have their first appointment with their family dentist until they are older than 2 years old; the average age at the initial visit is 2.6 years. This is later than the age recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), which is by year 1 or within six months of the eruption of the first tooth. Primary teeth typically grown in beginning around 6 months old.
Primary, or “baby,” teeth do fall out to make room for permanent teeth, but it’s important to keep primary teeth healthy and in place until they fall out naturally. The reasons why primary teeth are important include:
- Proper speech development
- Helping children to chew and maintain good nutrition
- Promoting a straight, healthy smile that children will feel good about
- Helping allocate space for permanent teeth later on
Most people don’t understand just what role their children’s baby teeth play in their oral health as a whole. More education is needed to ensure proper techniques for oral health are introduced early and often. Children could already be developing decay and other issues by age 4, so parents shouldn’t wait too long before taking their child to the dentist for a full checkup. After all, the most common chronic disease for children is dental disease.
One factor that can affect how a parent views their child’s dental health is whether or not their doctors mention it. Primary care physicians often apply a protective fluoride varnish to children’s teeth at around 9 months of age. They can also be good resources for parents looking for a referral for the right dentists. A family doctor’s training is limited, though. so it’s important that a child sees a real dentist earlier rather than later, preferably a pediatric dentist who knows exactly what to say to make the process a little more fun for the kids.
Dental Care for Young Ones – Things to Know
Some people may believe that because primary teeth fall out, their care isn’t as important—that is 100% false. Taking adequate care for your child’s primary teeth is as important as ever, and that starts even before their first visit. While primary teeth fall out, their permanent replacements are growing in behind them. Children’s teeth should be brushed as soon as they emerge. After 6 months of age, most dentists recommend a fluoridated toothpaste, using a very small amount at first. Once your child is able to spit, you can move onto a larger, pea-size amount.
One of the best things that a parent is ensure their children eat a healthy diet. It’s important to limit sugary drinks like juices and other beverages. If you’ve got a baby at home, don’t allow it to fall asleep with a bottle in its mouth as it could lead to an increase in bacteria. This is known as “baby bottle tooth decay,” and it has been documented many times. As your child gets older, pay close attention to their diet. Limit sweets and sugar, encourage vegetable consumption, and make sure they have adequate protein.
Assuaging Fears of the Dentist
As humans, we tend to fear the unknown, and for kids the dentist is one of the scariest unknowns of all. Waiting to take your child to the dentist until they’re much older can negatively affect their view of dental visits. If you take your child early, they’ll get used to the process before they’re even old enough to be scared about it. Here are some steps you can take to help your child get over their fear of visiting the dentist (no matter what age they are):
- Increased learning. Introducing books, videos, and online resources that explain what dentistry is all about is just one of the many ways to relieve some of your child’s stress related to going to the dentist. Plus, a lot of information geared towards children is now fun and funny. This is a great resource for children & parents to learn more about what goes on behind their smiles.
- Play and fun. Why not turn the learning into a game and take turns playing patient and doctor with your young one? Use a blunt-edged object as a pretend excavator. Teach them how to examine teeth using a mirror and count teeth so that your child will have an idea of what to expect.
- Take them on a trial visit. One of the best ways to convince your child that there’s nothing to fear is to take them with you when you go for your next checkup. Fair warning though: if you tend to get really nervous yourself while at the dentist, this might not be the best idea.
- Timing, timing, timing! A well-timed visit is crucial to make sure that your child is at their best when you go. Make sure that they’re rested and fed so that they feel comfortable and relaxed at the time of the visit, and try to plan for plenty of time so that no one feels rushed.
It’s important that your child starts getting the best dental care from trained professionals around the emergence of their first baby tooth. Another piece of advice: don’t wait too long to sign your child up for insurance.
If you are in the Asheville area and are in need of a new family dentist, contact us directly at (828) 253-5878 or request an appointment online. We treat both children and adults, meaning you can make appointments for yourself and your little ones on the same day.