Why are early childhood dental visits important?
“When should I start bringing my child to the dentist?” is a common question we are presented with. The answer is simple: as soon as your child has teeth, or by age one! It may seem early, but there are several sound reasons for this timeline.
Child comfort: The earlier a child is introduced to a dental office, the more comfortable he/she will be in such a setting. By bringing your child in at a young age, you are setting him/her up for a positive approach toward dental visits for the rest of his/her life. It’s wonderful to see many of our returning patients comfortable with the space and staff, and excited for each visit.
Prevention: If a dentist is given the opportunity to monitor a child’s teeth every six months starting at a young age, he/she will be able to take preventive measures to ensure oral health. In addition to the parental education discussed below, these preventive measures include regular fluoride treatments and/or other procedures that could help susceptible teeth fight off cavities. This proactive approach may make the difference for your child to not need his/her teeth drilled for fillings! If a child does have cavities that require treatment, early detection allows for more conservative treatment.
Parent education: There are many do’s and don’t’s when it comes to taking care of a child’s mouth. Firstly, a dentist will discuss proper hygiene techniques for teeth, gums and tongue. Secondly, a dentist may review the most “teeth-friendly” snacks, drinks, and timing for consumption. A dentist may also go over habits that may have negative consequences on a child’s jawbones and teeth, and work with families to develop appropriate habit-breaking tactics. These habits may include thumb-sucking, pacifier use, teeth grinding, and/or fingernail biting. Finally, a good pediatric dentist will get to know the families he/she works with and tailor our approach to ensure a parent knows how to meet all of his/her child’s dental needs. Many of our patients walk out saying “Wow, I learned a lot about how to care for my child’s teeth today! I didn’t know a lot of that!"
Finances: You may be surprised to see this as a reason for taking your child to the dentist early, but studies show that the dental costs for children who have their first dental visit before age one are 40% lower in the first five years than for those who do not see a dentist prior to their first birthday.
Make sure to establish a dental home with a caring team to keep your little ones’ mouths healthy. Remember that you’re always welcome to become a member of the Upper East Side Pediatric Dentistry family!
Information sources for this article include the ADA, AAPD, and the CDC.