Your Child’s First Check-Up
Just after your child’s third birthday is the best time to consider bringing them in for their first dental check-up. The initial visit is quite short and consists of a simple examination and a small amount of treatment if necessary. At such a tender age, we often recommend that you sit with your child and hold their hand while we gently examine their teeth and gums.
On occasion, some X-rays may be taken to check on the progress of your child’s permanent teeth sitting under their gums and to make sure there is no decay. Some simple treatments may be used such as gently cleaning your child’s teeth. We may also apply topical fluoride to help protect the teeth against decay. As importantly, we like to check with you that your child is receiving enough fluoride at home and that you know how to care and clean your child’s teeth.
What should I tell my child about their visit to the dentist?
This question is often asked. We suggest you make it about fun, perhaps the promise of a little treat afterwards. Perhaps you could prepare them in the same way you would before their first haircut or trip to the shoe store.
Tips for your “First Visit”:
- There are children’s books with pictures showing them about what happens at the dentist.
- Also tell them what the dentist will be doing at the time of the first visit.
- It is important to speak positively about your own experiences of the dentist.
- Let your child know that everyone has regular dental visits. Its a good thing.
Preventative Dental Care For Children
Children with tooth decay is no longer necessary and neither is growing up with fillings. At our dental office in Lakewood, we are always focussed on preventive care. For example, we recommend protecting your child’s teeth using the latest in dental sealant technology. Dental sealants are medically approved plastics that are bonded to the biting surfaces of the back teeth which are most susceptible to tooth decay. This helps to protect those teeth. It is just one example of building a great foundation for your child’s future of maintaining good oral health.
Sugary food and irregular or poor cleaning is the main culprit when it comes to dental cavities. Try to limit your child’s sugar intake and get them used to brushing their teeth regularly – the longer the residue from eating stays on their teeth, the greater the likelihood becomes of developing cavities.
This is because, when you eat, a reaction occurs inside your mouth which becomes acidic (bacteria in the mouth digest sugars particularly well and create acid). This reaction starts immediately after eating and lasts for around 20 minutes. During this time the build up of acid in your mouth will start to attack a tooth’s structure and this eventually leads to cavities.
Note: It is important to recognize that a person’s saliva in terms of its consistency also makes a difference. For example thin saliva is better at dissolving and washing left over food away. It is noticeable that if you have a diet which is high in sugar and carbohydrates, you are more likely to have thicker and less effective saliva. In turn this helps more of the acid-producing bacteria to stay around longer which causes cavities to develop.
Tips for cavity prevention:
- Limit frequency of meals, sugary snacks and sodas.
- After meals: encourage brushing, flossing and rinsing.
A final note: A child’s first baby teeth are the two bottom front teeth. Often this is noticeable when your baby is about 6-8 months old. The next group of teeth to show will be be the 4 upper front teeth. Afterwards, the rest of your infant’s teeth will start to become visible over a period of time until they are about 2 1/2 years old.
Baby teeth are important as they hold space for permanent teeth. They are also important for chewing, biting, speech and appearance. For these reasons, maintaining a healthy diet and daily hygiene is essential.
At about 2 1/2 years old your child should have a complete set of 20 baby teeth. At the ages of 5 to 6 years old the first permanent teeth will begin to push through, a baby tooth will loosen and then come out. Most of the permanent teeth replace baby teeth but some don’t. As all children are different, don’t be concerned if some of your child’s teeth are a few months early or late.