I am often asked this question: “When is the best time for my child to visit the dentist?”
The general consensus on this matter is by the age of one.
The reason for this is that children at this age are very prone to getting cavities. You may have thought that three or four years old was a good time for your child to start going to the dentist, however at this age it is possible for them to have many cavities and other problems in their mouth. We want to see them before this happens.
Childhood decay can occur quickly due to dietary, behavioral and clinical factors. We will discuss this below.
The benefits of a child coming in by the age of one are:
The not so obvious:
-To acclimatize your child at a young age to the dental environment. If they get used to this environment very early, then they will have a comfort level with going to the dentist. Your child should get used to having their teeth checked and cleaned.
-Assess that your child’s primary teeth (baby teeth) are coming into the mouth in the proper sequence. The sequence (order) in which the primary teeth ‘erupt’ into the mouth is more important than the timing at which they erupt into the mouth…some children are quicker and some are slower. It is often the parents who get discouraged if their child’s teeth erupt after say one of their friends. If you are interested in seeing the approximate age of eruptions and ‘shedding’ of the primary teeth, see blog “Anatomy of the Primary Dentition,” posted on November 11th, 2012.
-Proper care of your child’s mouth I.e., brushing technique.
-Discuss oral habits, I.e., thumb sucking, bruxing / clenching, tongue thrust. To read about child bruxism, please refer to “Child Bruxism, Causes and Treatment,” posted on September 15th, 2012. For information about Tongue Thrust see blog “Tongue Thrust,” posted on December 17th, 2012.
-Proper diet and oral health I.e., the link between the two. For instance, how will what your child eats affect their teeth. See blogs “Your Diet and Dental Health – Food Glorious Food – Part One and Two,” posted on April 22nd and 29th respectively.
-Certain habits to avoid I.e., avoid having the child going to sleep with sugared liquids (I.e., bottle with milk ).
– Use of fluoride. See blogs “Fluoride and Your Dental Health – Parts One, Two and Three,” posted on February 18th, 25th and March 12th of 2013.
-Assess the level of cleanliness of your child’s teeth. How good of a job are they and you doing in keeping their mouth clean? We recommend that the parent or caregiver do the night time cleaning.
It may sound obvious but we also recommend going to a dentist that has experience with children and it does not necessarily need to be a Pedodontist’s office. There are many family practices (like mine) that have treated and cared for children over the years.
In the next few blogs, we will discuss certain relevant dental issues that pertain to your child’s dental health.
Yours in good dental health,
Dr. Robert Axelrad, Brampton Dentist