Clarice Law, DMD, MS, assistant professor in the Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics sections at the UCLA School of Dentistry says that it is better to get the child to the dentist as early as possible. She personally likes to have children starting the dental visits by the age of one year. First dental visits help the child to get used to the dental chair and educate the parents about how to take care of their children's teeth. Initially the dentist may examine the child for about 15 minutes and just "count the teeth" to introduce the child to the office.
“The next visit can be when the child is two years old, if the child has already started with a cup and does not snack or drink in the middle of the night”, says Law. Drinking in the middle of the night increases the chances of cavities considerably, also known as "milk teeth." After two years, it is better to have a routine dental check up every six months. Between four and six years it is better to look out for cavities between the teeth. This helps the doctor and parents to have an idea whether these cavities are due to what the child is eating or drinking and how they are brushing.
Between the ages of 6-years-old and 12-years-old preventing cavities will be the focus of the dentist. Cavity prone molars can be protected from bacterial infection by painting a sealant, a plastic resin, to the chewing surface. By age of 7-years-old, the dentist may recommend an orthodontic evaluation, rather than waiting for all the permanent teeth to appear, which happens by the age of 12-years-old or 13-years-old. This is not fully related to wearing braces, which starts by early teens. An orthodontic evaluation ensures proper growth of the jaw and identifies skeletal causes of crooked teeth.
One should always remember the basics of good oral hygiene. Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, reducing high-sugar snacks and getting regular dental checkups are essential. These are the basics that have an impact on the health of kid’s teeth.
Prepare your child for the first dental visit:
- Explain briefly – Let your child know about the upcoming dental visit.
- Be positive – Don’t talk about fear to the child which will make them associate it with the dental visits.