February is Children’s Dental Health Month, and we want to thank our our friends at Nelson Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics for providing and sponsoring this post–giving us the opportunity to take a bite out of some common misconceptions about those important little chompers!
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that a child’s first dental exam be within 6 months of the eruption of their first tooth, or by 1 year of age…whichever comes first. But WHY you may ask? These are JUST baby teeth after all. Good question! As parents, you know that a child’s entire body, including their teeth and mouth, are rapidly changing and growing. This natural growth process produces young adults who have already had two sets of teeth, significant bone growth and development, and extensive changes in their features. However, did you know that early dental disease can sometimes derail development of teeth and bones? It’s true!
The risks of early dental disease
Cavities and subsequent infections of baby teeth can affect the development and functionality of the permanent teeth that will replace them. Also, early loss of baby teeth for any reason can lead to tooth shifting that can delay or prevent other permanent teeth from coming into the mouth. Since the teeth actually provide the bony support for the jaws, any significant deviation from normal tooth development and eruption can actually result in underdeveloped jaws and bite problems well into adulthood.
Aside from the effects dental disease has on physical development and function, dental disease can also significantly impact a child’s emotional and social development. Despite the fact that nearly all cavities can be prevented, a quarter of children ages 2-5, and more than half of children ages 6-8 have experienced tooth decay. As some of you may know firsthand, cavities can cause toothaches. Toothaches can be uncomfortable. They can be painful. They can interfere with your normal day-to-day activities. For kids, this can make it hard to concentrate and behave in school, affecting their ability to learn, play, or even eat a healthy lunch.
Healthy baby teeth start with a comfortable routine
Enter your friendly neighborhood Pediatric Dentist and (in our case) Orthodontist. Our goal is to provide a comfortable place you can bring your child at an early age without the anxiety of them (or you) having a negative experience. Establishing a “dental home” for your kids early-on ensures that both YOU and your kids are fully aware of the importance of taking great care of their teeth. Letting your kids come to the dentist at such a young age allows them to get to know the team that will help them establish good habits. It also instills in their impressionable minds that visiting the dentist can be a fun and enjoyable experience, not one that is scary or painful.
Should your child experience any trauma to their mouth or teeth (say…when they are learning to walk…), wouldn’t it be nice to take them to a familiar place to be cared for by familiar faces? We think so! As parents, you also have the opportunity to be educated on how to help with good oral hygiene habits. I mean really…how CAN you get a toothbrush into that tiny little mouth?! Your Pediatric Dentist and their team can teach you tricks to help. Just ask! Many parents appreciate the dietary recommendations provided by Pediatric Dentists for meals and snacks that lead to a healthy mouth. (Candy and soda are not the ONLY cavity culprits!) Most importantly, your Pediatric Dental team should be a resource that leaves you feeling informed and assured.
Pediatric Dental offices provide a partnership opportunity for you in making sure your child is on course for adequate and healthy growth and development. Practices that specialize in the treatment of kids make it a fun, stress-free experience from beginning to end. We strive to make each visit with the dentist a positive one – regardless of the treatment being provided. We offer the professional care your child needs to develop properly, and rely on you to look after their daily nutrition and hygiene. This combination ensures that your child, and our patient, begins practicing early for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Not all dentists are trained or equipped to expertly handle your child’s needs. Take advantage of a Pediatric Dentist’s additional training to make sure your child’s dental health is in the right hands.
Bottomline: They are NOT ‘just’ baby teeth…they are the foundation for a healthy mouth and beautiful smile. Make sure you and your kids take good care of them! For more information on early childhood dental care and cavity prevention, give our office a call and set up an appointment for a checkup with Dr. Nelson. We look forward to getting to know you!
Nelson Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics