Very young children are reliant on their parents for complete dental care. Many parents unintentionally neglect their young children’s mouths due to the fact that they hardly have any teeth. Even more parents are shocked to learn that they have missed the recommended time frame for taking their children in to the dentist for their first dental appointments. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association both concur that children should be taken to the dentist for their first dental appointment by the time they reach their first birthdays. While this may seem like a very early age, there are specific purposes for these early visits.
- Introduce children to the dentist early. While it is true that most 12 month olds rarely have more than four teeth, bringing children in from a very young age makes going to the dentist a normal occurrence. Millions of Americans suffer from anxiety regarding visiting the dentist, and it is the intention that exposing children from the very beginning to the dentist that these anxieties can be avoided.
- Educate parents on how to care for their child’s developing mouth. Tooth decay is the most common chronic illness in young children. Over 4 million preschoolers suffer from cavities here in the United States alone. This is a huge number of children, and it is even more shocking because dental cavities are one of the most preventable diseases. It is important that parents are properly educated on how to care for their young child’s developing mouth – and this goes far beyond simply brushing their teeth. Parents must understand the direct correlation between oral health and a child’s diet. Juice, soda, sweet tea, and candy have no place in a child’s diet. These sugar-laden beverages and foods leave the teeth incredibly susceptible to decay. It is also important for parents to understand that if they themselves have suffered from cavities, their children will be more vulnerable to developing cavities.
- Break bad oral habits early. Pacifiers, thumbs, and fingers are often a great comfort to a small child, however, they need to be taken away and discouraged once a child reaches one year of age. Continued use of sucking on a pacifier or the thumb or fingers can cause significant damage to the structure of the mouth, resulting in the need for extensive orthodontic treatment in the future. It is also imperative that children should not be allowed to fall asleep at the breast or with a bottle. Just like an adult, children’s teeth should be brushed before their fall asleep. Breast milk and formula leave the teeth bathed in sugar, making baby teeth extremely vulnerable to cavities.
At Crabapple Dental, we are proud to offer excellent dental care to patients of all ages. Please contact us to set up your child’s first dental appointment. We are here to make your child’s dental experience a pleasant one.