According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay is one of the most common chronic childhood conditions in the US. If left untreated, tooth decay can be a painful and uncomfortable experience for children and it can lead to infection, creating problems with learning, speaking and most especially, eating.
- Nearly 1 out of 4 children between 5 and 11 years have at least one decayed tooth left untreated.
- Thirteen percent of adolescents between 12 and 19 years have at least one decayed tooth left untreated.
Importance of Early Childhood Dental Visits
The earlier children started going to a pediatric dentist, the healthier their teeth and mouth will be throughout their lives. Doing early dental visits help prevent tooth decay and cavities – conditions that can lead to pain, loss of appetite and other medical issues. Children with healthy teeth learn to speak clearly, chew their food thoroughly and smile with confidence!
The American Academy of Pediatric recommended that every child must visit a dentist at the age of 1. This visit also teaches caregivers and parents how to take good care of the child’s teeth and help keep them cavity-free.
For instance, pediatric dentists often see numerous children with tooth decay due to falling asleep with a bottle of juice or milk. Your pediatric dentist can teach the parent or caregiver why it causes cavities, why is it important to introduce drinking from a cup once they approach their first birthday and the proper way of brushing young teeth.
Your dentist can also explain why you need to stop on-demand bedtime feeding once your child’s first tooth emerges.
Another reason why early childhood dental visit is important is that your pediatric dentist can provide treatment procedure that can help prevent decay and cavities. Your children’s dentist may apply dental sealants to the chewing surfaces of the molars to prevent tooth decay. Studies show that sealants can reduce decay of permanent molars by about 81%. Flouride varnish is also another preventive dental treatment that is painted on the teeth to prevent decay.
What Parents Should Do
It is important to bring your child to his/her dentist by age 1 for checkup, as advised by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Consult your paediatrician or pediatric dentist about applying fluoride varnish as soon as first tooth appears as well as dental sealants.
If you are living in a community that has water not fluoridated, consult your dentist if your child needs fluoride supplements in the form of tablets, drops or lozenges.