Did you know that an estimated 42% of children age 2-11 have tooth decay? Although that’s a sobering statistic, there are some easy steps you can take to prevent childhood cavities, including scheduling regular checkups and establishing good oral hygiene habits at home. But when should you schedule that first family dentistry visit for your child and what can you expect? Keep reading to find out – and get some great tips on how you can help them have a healthy smile from the start!
When Should You Schedule Their First Visit?
The American Dental Association recommends that children see a dentist for the first time within 6 months of getting their first tooth (or around their first birthday). If your child is older than that, schedule them as soon as possible.
What Happens at the First Checkup?
Here’s what you can expect at your child’s first visit:
- A dentist will spend time reviewing your child’s medical and dental history and you’ll have an opportunity to ask questions.
- Your child won’t usually need X-rays until they’re about 3-4. Earlier than that, they’ll get visual exams to make sure everything is normal and healthy.
- A dentist will discuss the best way to keep your child’s teeth clean at home and how you can prevent cavities. They’ll also recommend the best products to use and tell you whether fluoridated toothpaste is appropriate.
- If you don’t live in an area with a fluoridated water supply, they can prescribe supplements to help your child’s teeth develop as strong as possible.
- Finally, your child will get a new toothbrush and pick out a toy, which will probably become their favorite part of their appointments!
What Can You Do at Home To Help Your Child Have Great Oral Health?
In addition to scheduling regular checkups, here are some other tips to keep your child from getting cavities:
- Establish good oral hygiene habits – It can be a struggle in many households to get kids to brush and floss, but starting as early as possible is a great way to make it easier from the start. Kids of all ages respond well to routine, which could just be gently wiping your infant’s gums with a clean, damp cloth twice a day.
- Get sealants for the permanent back teeth – Dental sealants are thin, white, protective coatings that prevent cavity-causing bacteria from getting into the pits and grooves of the molars. They’re an excellent way to protect the back teeth from developing cavities. Most children will get their first permanent molars around age 6.
- Minimize sugars – Try to reduce snacking throughout the day and minimize sugary foods and beverages such as juice, soda, dried fruit and candy. Never put your child to bed with a bottle that has anything other than water in it, since even milk has sugars in it that can cause severe decay.
With these tips, you’ll be giving your child the best chance of having a healthy, beautiful smile their entire lives!
About the Author
Dr. Christel Cochell is a family dentist in Salem who loves making dental care fun for kids because she knows that positive childhood experiences lay the foundation for great oral health later in life. If you have any additional questions about your child’s first checkup, she can be reached via her website or at (503) 585-8688.