When should you start taking your child to the dentist?
By Dr. Tontra Lowe, DDS
As a family and cosmetic dentist, parents ask me all the time when should they bring their child to the dentist. The answer can be confusing and often varies from one dental office to another. Some dentists won’t see children less than three years old, while another may see them as early as six months of age. It is extremely important for parents to understand the importance of having dental checkups regardless of the age of their child, and the impact neglect can have on the primary teeth and the child’s overall health.
February is designated by the American Dental Association as National Children’s Dental Health Month and is a time to reflect upon all aspects of maintaining great oral health for children of all ages. Knowing that cavities, the number one childhood illness, can have a detrimental impact on the livelihood, confidence, and behavior of a child is one of the first steps to prevention. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD.org), a child should have a dental check-up when they get their first tooth, or at least before they turn one year of age. I recommend taking a child to see the dentist when the first tooth arrives. Here are some other tips to assist with management of your child’s oral health.
1) Baby teeth hurt just like adult teeth! They have nerves that give them feeling just like your adult teeth. Ever had a really bad toothache? Imagine trying to manage the pain when you’re only a kindergartner.
2) Children don’t have the dexterity to clean and floss their teeth properly until they are eight or nine, and then they still may need help to reach their back teeth. Using floss picks or other handy tools may make it a little easier for them until they are able to manipulate traditional floss better.
3) Stay away from bottles and sippy cups of milk or juice. When teeth get bathed in sweet, sugary liquids, the sugar turns into an acid that eats the teeth and the child develops cavities and rampant tooth decay. If you want to soothe the baby with something in a bottle, try plain water.
Watching your child develop can have so many awesome twists and turns that will make you laugh, cry, and marvel at the things they say and do. Teaching them good oral habits and taking them every six months to the dentist will build a solid dental foundation that will last a lifetime and reduce toothaches and sleepless nights. Don’t they deserve it?
About the Author: Dr. Tontra Lowe is the owner and practitioner at Awesome Smiles Dental Center located right next door to the Haymarket Kohl’s. Dr. Lowe treats everyone from children as young as six months to the elderly for all dental needs. Voted Best of Haymarket 2017, her team is poised to help your family stay cavity-free for the new year.