Importance of Pediatric Dental Check-Ups
Pediatric dental check-ups are vital to ensure your child’s oral health stays on track, laying a solid foundation for a lifetime of strong teeth and gums.
Your youngster’s primary (baby) teeth pave the way for their permanent (adult) teeth. According to the American Dental Association1 (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry2 (AAPD), a child should see a dentist when they get their first tooth or by the age of 12 months.
During this first visit, the dentist will ensure your child’s teeth and jaw are developing properly, and look for cavities, oral injuries, and any other problems.
Your Child’s First Pediatric Dental Check-Up
You can help your youngster to prepare for their first dental appointment by explaining what will happen and remaining positive. This occasion is likely to set for a scene for how they regard future visits to the dentist, so it’s important to start them off on the right foot.
Children around the age of two typically demonstrate increasing individuality and rebellious behavior, and this can be an issue when you’re trying to get your toddler to venture inside a dental practice for the first time.
When preparing for this first visit, keep things simple, and don’t stress your youngster with too many details, which will only lead to more questions and probably increased apprehension.
Early dental care will get your child accustomed to visiting the dentist, and this should make future appointments less stressful. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says a youngster’s nervousness can be eased by starting regular visits to the dentist before a problem develops.
Benefits of Pediatric Dental Check-Ups
As soon as your child has teeth, they can get cavities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention3 (CDC) say that 20 percent of kids aged five to 11 suffer from tooth decay. Cavities in primary teeth can also damage the adult teeth developing beneath them.
Early loss of a baby tooth through decay can result in permanent teeth emerging crooked or crowded. Issues like these can be prevented by regular check-ups, reinforced by encouraging your youngster to develop a good routine of brushing and flossing.
Pediatric dental check-ups enable your child’s dentist to watch for early signs of gum problems and other health concerns, as well as tooth decay and take prompt action if necessary.
Pediatric dental check-ups typically include a professional cleaning of your child’s teeth to eliminate any accumulation of plaque and tartar. Furthermore, check-ups give parents the opportunity to speak to dental professionals about keeping their children’s teeth and gums healthy.
Tooth Decay in Children
Tooth decay is the most common chronic ailment among U.S. kids, despite being largely preventable with good oral hygiene and regular pediatric dental check-ups. Children with healthy baby teeth usually progress better with chewing their food and taking in nutrients, and in speech development.
Whether your child still has primary teeth or are developing adult teeth, nurturing their oral health during each stage of development plays an important role in their overall wellbeing. An unhealthy mouth can lead to impaired speech, inability to focus on vital early learning experiences, and absences from school.
Oral health issues in kids can also have far-reaching consequences into adulthood. For instance, ongoing impaired physical appearance through dental disease can restrict the ability to develop relationships and socialize with confidence.
Tooth decay occurs when tooth enamel is broken down by bacteria-ridden plaque. Symptoms can vary or be non-existent, but your child may experience pain around the tooth and/or sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks.
Some children may be at greater risk of getting cavities, through factors such as:
- High levels of the type of bacteria that cause tooth decay (streptococcus mutans).
- A diet rich in starches and sugars.
- A water supply with little or no fluoride.
- Less saliva flow than normal.
- Poor oral hygiene.
Prevention, Detection, and Treatment of Child Tooth Decay
Pediatric dental check-ups enable your child’s dentist to diagnose tooth decay with oral exams and X-rays. Treatment for cavities depends on whether the decay is affecting baby teeth or adult teeth.
Early detection of cavities usually allows for conservative treatments, avoiding the need for fillings or extractions.
Preventative care is available in pediatric dentistry to lessen the likelihood of cavities. These treatments include:
- Fluoride applications that contain a stronger concentration than available in regular fluoride toothpaste and mouthwashes. The American Dental Association says that besides strengthening teeth, fluoride treatments can reverse the early stages of tooth decay.
- Dental sealants to provide a barrier against bacteria and food debris that result in plaque and tartar. These can be applied to treat a child’s adult teeth or primary teeth with deep grooves and pits.
Pediatric Orthodontic Check-ups
Pediatric dentists are specially trained in child orthodontics to detect any potential issues with teeth or jaw alignment. Orthodontic check-ups, while a child is still young, can identify many potential problems, avoiding later treatment or making the procedure easier.
Orthodontic treatment while a youngster’s jaw bones are still flexible means that corrective procedures will work faster than for adolescents and adults. The American Association of Orthodontists3 (AAO) recommends an orthodontic examination for every child no later than the age of seven.
Your Child’s Dentist is an Important Source of Oral Hygiene Advice
The more you and your child visit your pediatric dentist, the more both of you will learn about effective oral healthcare at home. Advice about issues such as brushing and flossing will help you to develop better dental hygiene practices for your youngster. This can go a long way in ensuring their teeth remain healthy for many years to come.
Pediatric dental check-ups can prevent tooth decay and the toothache that may come with it. Studies indicate that youngsters with good oral health are happier, do better at school and have more self-regard. With regular check-ups, your child is likely to develop a positive attitude toward dental visits that will stay with them for the rest of their life.
Look for a pediatric dental practice4 that offers comprehensive check-ups, professional teeth cleaning, and fluoride and sealant treatments, to give your child the best chance of developing strong and healthy teeth.