Start Your Kid’s Dental Health Care Early
Your child’s first visit to the dentist should take place between one and two years of age. The dentist will monitor growth and development of the dentition and jaws. This would help in preventing, and/or intercepting any abnormal habits and plan for any correction of deviations from normal growth in the future. Other important aspects of the first visit would be introducing the child to dentistry in as stress-free an environment as possible and discussing good oral hygiene habits, suitable tooth friendly diets and unfavorable oral habits.
Benefits of Seeing a Pedodontist
Pediatric dentists or pedodontists place a significant importance on the maintenance of the primary teeth and in preventing tooth decay. Studies have shown that poor oral health in children can lead to impaired school performance and poor social relationships. Therefore, it is important to take care of the milk teeth. While milk teeth begin erupting at around six months of age, the front and side incisors, followed by the canines and molars begin falling out and are replaced by permanent teeth from six to seven years onwards.
Baby teeth retain space for your child’s permanent teeth. The permanent first molar is usually the first adult tooth to emerge, at about six years of age. It will occupy the position behind the last baby teeth. Should the baby teeth be lost, this permanent first molar will erupt in a more forward position, limiting the space for the other permanent teeth, leading to crooked permanent teeth.
Common Dental Problems in children
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
When a baby sucks actively, the movement of the facial muscles and saliva results in a natural rinsing action which cleans his teeth. As a baby falls asleep while sucking on a bottle, the sucking becomes passive, and swallowing slows, causing the juice or milk to pool around the teeth forming a sticky film (plaque). The sugar present in the plaque is changed to acid. This results in decalcification and severe decay, known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.
Thumb-, finger- and pacifier-sucking habits are common in babies and toddlers, but they cease on their own when the child is between two and four years old. If the habit persists over a long period of time or intensely, your child’s upper front teeth may begin tipping toward his lip and his teeth alignment, bite or the growth of his jaws and bones may be affected.
What to Expect During the Child’s First Visit
The first dental check-up identifies any dental issues with respect to the growth and dental development of the child. Ideally, plan to visit the dentist for the first time when there is no major treatment to be done. If the first visit is made when your child is in pain and more extensive treatment is required, dental visits may become associated with pain or discomfort. Also, if a problem does arise in the future, you have the contact details of a dentist your child is familiar with on hand.
It is also a good idea to schedule the dental appointment when the child is rested and not hungry. The appointment will then be much smoother. Do ensure that any anxiety that you may have is not transferred to your child and refrain from using the dentist as a threat as this will set up the dental visit to be a negative experience for the child.
During the first visit, it is important for your child to feel comfortable with the treating dentist. Thus, a pediatric dentist will normally start conversing with your children, before starting any treatment.
He or she will then start with an oral examination before confirming whether there is a need for x-rays to be taken. The necessary treatment will be discussed with the parents. A simple tooth cleaning may also then be carried out on the child to reinforce a positive attitude towards the dentist.
This article is from Specialist Dental Group and first appeared on their website, http://www.specialistdentalgroup.com. Specialist Dental Group is located at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, 3 Mount Elizabeth, #08-03/08-08/08-10, Singapore 228510, Phone: (65) 6733 7883. Their paedodontist department is headed by Dr Elizabeth Tan, Specialist in Paediatric Dentistry.