At what age should dental care really begin?

As parents, there are many questions we have when it comes to raising our children.  We want our kids to be healthy and happy, but sometimes dental care goes forgotten.  It may seem like you are at the pediatrician every other week, but it’s important for your child to establish a relationship with the dentist as well.  Starting good oral hygiene habits from a young age is crucial for adult health.

The Very First Tooth

All parents tend to get very excited at the appearance of their baby’s first tooth but many of them tend to forget at what age should dental care begin. This is especially exciting when you take your child to their very first dental visit.  It is important to schedule an appointment as soon as the very first tooth appears, or even during the heavy teething stages, regardless of age.  This typically occurs around six months of age and studies show that many children do not see the dentist until they have reached two or three years old.  This can cause a variety of oral issues, many of which can become prevalent in adolescence a well, such as orthodontic problems, including under and overbites.

A Healthy Foundation

Many parents and caregivers do not see the necessity of bringing their children to the dentist because they believe that “baby teeth” will fall out.  Although the children will in fact lose their first set of teeth within a few years, it is still important to have the baby teeth, tongue and gums evaluated to prevent any future dental pathology from developing.  Additionally, the baby teeth are the foundation for the mouth and they will aid in the functionality of the oral cavity, including digestion (chewing) and speech.  They also serve as a baseline for how the permanent teeth will grow in and many future issues can be avoided with early interventional methods.

What Will The Visit Include?

The first visit will include a comprehensive evaluation of the teeth, as well as a diagnosis plan for your child.  This will involve the parent as well, as young children often need assistance with brushing their teeth and learning good oral hygiene habits.  Additionally, many pediatric patients do not receive enough fluoride, so coming up with a proper plan to ensure that your child has enough fluoride for the enamel to develop properly is necessary.  The dentist will also work with the parents to come up with a plan to help prevent tooth decay, by limiting certain foods and beverages with high sugar content.