The Canadian Dental Association recommends the assessment of infants, by a dentist, within six months of the eruption of the first tooth or by one year of age.
The goal is to have your child visit the dentist before there is a problem with his or her teeth. In most cases, a dental exam every six months will let your child’s dentist catch small problems early.
Here are 3 reasons to take your child for dental exams:
- You can find out if the cleaning you do at home is working.
- Your dentist can find problems right away and fix them.
- Your child can learn that going to the dentist helps prevent problems.
Your dentist may want to take X-rays. X-rays show decay between the teeth. They will also show if teeth are coming in the way they should. Your child’s dentist may also talk to you about fluoride. Once your child has permanent molars, your dentist may suggest sealing them to protect them from cavities. A sealant is a kind of plastic that is put on the chewing surface of the molars. The plastic seals the tooth and makes it less likely to trap food and germs.
When your child goes for a dental exam, your dentist can tell you if crooked or crowded teeth may cause problems. In many cases, crooked teeth straighten out as the child’s jaw grows and the rest of the teeth come in. If they do not straighten out, your child may have a bite problem (also known as malocclusion). This can cause problems with eating and with teeth cleaning. It can also affect your child’s looks and make him or her feel out of place.
Fillings for Baby Teeth
Some primary (or baby) teeth will be in your child’s mouth until age 12. The tooth that needs to be fixed may be one of those. Broken teeth or teeth that are infected can hurt your child’s health and the way your child feels about him or herself. To do a filling, the dentist removes the decay and “fills” the hole with metal, plastic or other material. A filling can be a cheap and easy way to fix a problem that could be painful and cost more later because it stops decay from spreading deeper into the tooth.
If a filling is not done and decay spreads, the tooth may need to be pulled out. If this happens, your child may need a space maintainer to hold space for the permanent tooth. When a baby (or primary) tooth is missing, the teeth on each side may move into the space. They can block the permanent tooth from coming in. To hold the space, your dentist may put a plastic or metal space maintainer on the teeth on each side of the space, to keep the teeth from moving in.
To prevent early childhood cavities, parents first have to find out their child’s risk of developing cavities. They also need to learn how to manage diet, hygiene and fluoride to prevent problems. But cavities aren’t all that parents need to learn about their child’s dental health. The age one dental visit lets parents discuss:
- How to care for an infant’s or toddler’s mouth
- Proper use of fluoride
- Oral habits, including finger and thumb sucking
- Ways to prevent accidents that could damage the face and teeth
- Teething and milestones of development
- The link between diet and oral health
After this first visit, the dentist will suggest a schedule of follow-up visits. In the past, dentists typically called for visits every six months. Now, the schedule may vary according to each child’s needs and risks. As your child grows, the dental team can help you learn how to prevent common oral problems.
Choosing a Dentist for Your Child
Finding a dentist that takes good care of your child’s teeth while making the experience relaxed and fun sets the stage for a lifetime of healthy teeth. Your dentist should also come across as friendly, warm and welcoming. Contact Dr. Jason Harvey’s office today.