Your dentist is your partner in oral health, a trusted professional you can rely on throughout your life to detect problems in your mouth and guide your dental routine.
However, many parents wonder when their children should start their own relationships with a dentist.
When Should Your Child Have Their First Dentist Appointment?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents take their children to see a pediatric dentist when their first tooth appears. This should occur before a child’s first birthday. If a child still doesn’t have a tooth by his or her first birthday, it’s still smart to see a pediatric dentist at this time.
Pediatric dentists have two or three years of specialty training after graduating from dental school to help them treat babies, children, and adolescents. Since they only see young people, they’re used to anticipating and dealing with their specific dental and emotional needs.
How Regularly Should Your Child See a Dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that most children see a pediatric dentist every six months to prevent cavities and other oral health concerns. However, your pediatric dentist may recommend a different schedule based on your child’s personal oral health. Your pediatric dentist knows your child’s oral health and dental history, so you should always trust his or her recommendations.
How Can Your Child Maintain Oral Hygiene Between Dental Visits?
There are several steps your child can take to maintain good oral hygiene between dentist appointments. If your child is young or forgetful, you should monitor his or her activities to ensure that these steps are taken.
Limit snacks between meals — after all, the Daily Mail states that snacking is one of the key reasons for tooth decay. In fact, Dr. Nigel Carter, a representative of the British Dental Health Foundation, suggests that 99 percent of food can potentially damage teeth. Many snacks children love, like dried fruit pieces, yogurt, and sugary treats, can all take a toll. Snacks typically wear away the teeth’s enamel or attack the teeth directly. Many foods even do both. Limiting snacking is a good way to ensure that your child’s teeth aren’t vulnerable throughout the day.
Your children’s teeth also need fluoride to stay strong. Make sure they brush twice a day with a toothpaste enriched with fluoride. Additionally, if your area has fluoride in its water supply, encourage them to drink plenty of water from the faucet. Fluoride supplements can help children that live in areas without fluoride in their water get enough of this protective substance.
Flossing helps remove particles of food and plaque that toothbrushes can’t reach. If it’s not removed, plaque will harden into calculus or tartar that can lead to cavities and gum disease. Make sure your child flosses once a day after brushing to prevent these problems. Demonstrate the proper flossing technique to your child to ensure that he or she flosses correctly.
Visiting a dentist early can help your child develop a strong relationship with this dental expert and set your child up for a life of good dental health.
Image via Flickr by goldberg