When it comes to taking care of children’s dental health, it is important for parents and care givers to understand that they themselves are completely responsible. Children under the age of 6 must be carefully and dutifully taught how to care for their teeth. Bringing children into the dentist from a very young age is one of the best methods for promoting oral health. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend that children be brought in to the dentist from the time they are 12 months old.
Bringing such young children in to the dentist’s office may seem shocking seeing as how most 12 months old have hardly any teeth! However, there are three specific reasons why such a young age is recommended.
- Early exposure leads to children being comfortable at the dentist. Millions of Americans suffer from dental anxieties that prevent them from receiving the oral health care that they need. It is the belief that exposing children from the very start to the dentist will allow them to be comfortable at their dental appointments. Children who grow up visiting the dentist understand that it is just a natural part of life. They know what to expect at the dentist’s office, and they are comfortable having their teeth cleaned. This early exposure promotes regular dental cleanings for a lifetime.
- Educate parents on proper oral health care for their children. Young children cannot be held responsible for caring for their own teeth. It is the parents’ full responsibility to ensure that children’s teeth are brushed properly, at least twice a day. It is also the parents’ responsibility to make sure that healthy dietary choices are made on a daily basis. Juice, soda, sweet tea, and candy have no place in young children’s diets. These sugar-laden drinks and foods make the teeth extremely vulnerable to decay. It is also important that very young children not be allowed to fall asleep at the breast or with a bottle. This routine needs to be broken by the age of 12 months because teeth need to be brushed before children fall asleep. Milk and formula bathe the teeth in sugar, causing cavities to develop very quickly.
- Discuss bad habits and how to break them. While pacifiers, thumbs, and fingers are natural comforts to young babies, they need to be discouraged and taken away by the first birthday. Children’s mouths are very pliable, and they will begin to become misaligned with the prolonged sucking on a pacifier or the fingers or thumb. Dentists can discuss with parents ways in which to break the habit of sucking in order to protect the teeth from misalignment.
At Gainesville Dental Group, we are here to partner with parents in order to promote the healthiest smiles for their children. Early intervention is key to promoting a lifetime of oral health. Please call our office to schedule your child’s first appointment.
Posted on behalf of Gainesville Dental Group