It seems that too many parents are waiting longer than they should do to take their child for their first dental checkup and that could prove to be a costly mistake in more ways than one.
Established dentists often find that the first opportunity to look inside a child’s mouth is only afforded to them well after they have passed their second birthday or much later altogether.
Earlier the better
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) actually recommends that your child visits the dentist before they are one year old or no later than six months after their first tooth has erupted.
Your child’s primary teeth often begin to appear at around six months and therefore leaving it until well after they are two years of age on average is too late according to studies.
It is quite understandable that as a parent you might hold the opinion that your child is too young or simply doesn’t have enough teeth to warrant a visit to the dentist at such an early stage in their life.
The importance of teeth
Other than the obvious importance of maintaining good teeth throughout your life it is often underestimated just how important the primary teeth are in the development of your child and to give them the best chance of having healthy adult teeth, gums and oral hygiene.
Your child’s primary teeth need to stay in place until they are lost and replaced naturally and there are a number of good reasons why this should be a goal that you achieve if you can.
Maintaining the primary teeth in place for their natural duration will help to achieve good nutrition and will also assist your child in developing their speech as well as saving the right space in their mouth for the arrival of their permanent teeth when they are ready to come through.
You will also want your child to be able to develop a healthy and natural smile and that means doing everything you can in their early life to promote and encourage good dental hygiene and care.
Prevention is almost always better than the cure and that analogy certainly applies when it comes to your child’s teeth and the risk of developing cavities.
Preschool children should not visit the dentist only when they develop a cavity and in addition to getting them used to the regular routine of visiting the dentist for a checkup, it will help if you can promote a good diet and teach them good oral hygiene as early as possible.
When you visit the dentist with your young child, take the opportunity to discuss any issues that are relevant to your child’s dental health such as whether they have developed a habit of sucking their thumb for example, which can impact the development of their teeth.
Don’t leave it too late to take your child to the dentist for the first time and the earlier you start the better it is likely to be in terms of preventing any problems developing and also promoting a positive relationship between your child and your dentist.
Samantha Finch is studying dentistry at school in Portland and hopes to specialize in pediatric dentistry when she graduates. She shares her knowledge by writing on all aspects of dentistry for a variety of heath and parenting blogs.