Congratulations on your precious little one! If you recently had a baby, you have a ton of things on your mind already. You might not even imagine their first dental appointment — but positive oral care matters for life.
When should you take your child to the dentist? Many of the scenarios depend on your child’s growth and development. Other occasions to seek care hopefully never happen — but if they do, you need to prepare yourself.
By Their First Birthday
You might wonder why you need to take your child to the dentist when they’re so young. After all, they may only have a few teeth. However, it’s critical to overcome anxiety in both you and your child from a young age. Older kids can pick up on a parent’s stress, and if you wait too long, you can create unnecessary tension.
Additionally, you want to start protecting tiny chompers. At your baby’s six-month checkup, your technician can discuss fluoride supplements or drops, for example. This mineral helps to strengthen the tooth’s enamel, making your angel less prone to cavities.
Every Six Months After
Most experts recommend seeing your dentist every six months for a checkup. This rule applies to your children, too. Regular checkups help to detect minor problems before they snowball into substantial issues. Filling a tiny cavity makes more sense than letting the tooth decay to the point where you must pull it.
Additionally, your teeth accumulate a sticky substance known as plaque, which is as challenging to remove as barnacles from a ship. Routine brushing and flossing will not remove this substance and left untreated, it can lead to decay. Only a thorough cleaning can protect your gums.
As They Start Losing Teeth
When your children start to lose their baby teeth, their permanent numbers emerge. This time is when you must pay particular attention to prevention, especially if cavities and dental problems run in your family. Routine fluoride treatments, for example, can prevent cavities from forming in the first place.
If your child does get a cavity, you’ll want to fill it quickly to prevent them from losing the tooth later. Don’t worry about giving them a mouth full of metal. Today’s resin’s come in tooth-colored variations, meaning you won’t notice the work they had done.
If They Suffer an Injury
Nearly 50% of all children suffer some form of mouth injury as they grow up, and many require dental care to prevent permanent disfigurement. Any time an injury causes a break to a tooth or bleeding in the mouth, you should have it evaluated. Do the same if your angel develops a fever or experiences challenges swallowing or breathing.
When They Have Mouth Pain
Mouth pain can denote a cavity or gum disease. It can also potentially indicate the presence of a foreign object impacted in the gums. If your little one complains of oral pain, consider the cause. If they’re losing a tooth, the edges could cut their gums, causing the ache. However, if no apparent source exists, contact your dentist.
If You Notice Gum Problems
Gum disease can lead to other severe health risks. The same bacteria that leads to periodontitis can cause chronic inflammation that eventually hardens their arteries. Additionally, researchers have found a link between the germs in the mouth and the later development of Alzheimer’s disease. If you notice sore, red or bleeding gums in your child, contact your provider immediately.
If They Have Certain Medical Issues
Some medical issues can put your child at an elevated risk of developing oral problems. For example, gum disease appears more frequently and severely among those with diabetes. Should your child get a cold, bacteria from the mouth can travel to the lungs, causing pneumonia. Young ones with acid reflux disease may experience cavities more often, as the substance deteriorates the tooth enamel, and teenagers with bulimia can substantially damage their oral health from continued regurgitation.
If They’re Not Eating As They Should
If your child isn’t eating the way that they should, talk to their dentist. Many parents have questions about when their child should start eating solid foods. Ask yourself the following questions before introducing the “hard stuff.”
- Can your child hold their head up independently? If they can’t, they could choke on solid foods, so wait.
- Has your child doubled their birth weight? Typically, they should weigh at least 13 pounds or more if they came out of the womb big.
- Can your child move the spoon to their mouth? While you no doubt enjoy playing the airplane game, your baby could experience frustration if they can’t eat independently.
If They’ve Had Other Work Done
Maybe your child lost a tooth and needed an implant. Perhaps your orthodontist advised them that they required braces to avoid crooked adult teeth. Regardless of the type of work they had performed, once installed, you need to maintain it. Make sure to adhere to the recommended follow-up schedule.
Know When You Need to Take Your Child to the Dentist
As a parent, you bear responsibility for teaching your child positive oral health habits. Start them at the dentist early, and enjoy better teeth for life.