Dental health is important at every age and stage of life. As you age, the risks rise for things like gingivitis, periodontal disease, tooth loss, gum recession, etc. If you neglect these issues today, there will be bigger repairs tomorrow.
The best way to maintain a healthy mouth is to begin with the end in mind. Simply put: start young. Make it a routine part of your child’s life to visit the dentist and they will continue to do so as they grow into adults. This includes teaching children proper toothbrushing techniques, reinforcing good eating habits and discussing other preventive treatments with your dentist.
Are you making sure your children are healthy? Do they get regular check-ups with a dentist and physician like they should? I hope the answer to these questions is “yes!” The remainder of this article will focus on how to take care of your children from a dental point of view.
A very common question is, “what is a good age for my child to start having dental check-ups?” The answer is quite simple: at least by age three. However, it is good to start “conditioning” a child at a dental office as early as one or two years old. This will allow the child to become comfortable with sitting in the chair and talking to a doctor, and simply just getting used to the dentist’s office. A lot of parents have phobias about dentistry, and pass this on to their children. The more we make dentistry a normal part of the routine, the easier it will be for the child to have work done, and never have “dental phobia.”
By seeing a child at a young age, a dentist can evaluate problems and prevent future issues that can affect the teeth and the growth and development of the jaw.
By the age of 3 however, dentistry should be a normal part of the routine for a child when it comes to overall health. The child should be brushing and flossing their teeth for two minutes, twice daily. The parent or parents should supervise, making sure all areas are brushed properly. I am begging all the parents of the world to stop giving your children gummy bears, fruit snacks and especially juice before bedtime! If we never start these habits early in life, then the child will never have an issue with not having these sweets. If you must give your child sweets, I highly recommend something like chocolate. Why? Because the temperature of the mouth melts the chocolate and our saliva can flush it away, so it does not stay on the tooth surface as long, therefore minimizing the risk of causing decay.
By seeing a child at a young age, a dentist can evaluate problems caused by thumb-sucking, use of pacifiers, and other bad habits. We can prevent future issues that can affect the teeth and the growth and development of the jaw.
From age 6-12, the child should be well-accustomed to an oral hygiene routine. The six-year molars and second year molars come in and should be coated with sealant to prevent decay. By eight years old, a child should have already been screened to determine whether they may need orthodontics. The child should also know to avoid sugary drinks and foods.
On average, most tooth decay happens in the pre-teen to teen years. The teeth most commonly decayed are the lower six-year molars, so these teeth should be sealed as soon as possible and the child should have a fluoride treatment at least once a year. Additionally, they should have a minimum of two annual cleanings.
These are just a few helpful hints to ensure your child’s overall wellness through proper dental care. I will leave you with this concept: having dental insurance is not the only reason to go to the dentist. We pay to have the oil changed in our cars every 3,000 to 5,000 miles so the engine runs efficiently. Yes, it is nice to have a dental plan to help cover the cost of services, but a teeth cleaning is the oil change for the body, if you will, and without these cleanings, our bodies will not run as efficiently as they could.
Your oral health is the first line of defense for your immune system. Please do not take it lightly!
By Bobby Grossi, DDS