You noticed your child beginning to develop his or her first baby tooth. Congratulations! Now you have to consider when to take him or her for the first wellness dental checkup. Most children have their first baby tooth come out at around six months old. By the time they are two years old usually all baby teeth have already come out. Most dental societies recommend bringing your child in for their first checkup visit between six months to a year of age. Does this really make sense? Why not just wait until they are two or three when all their baby teeth are out before taking them in for a more comprehensive check-up instead?
Pros of Taking Your Child for their First Visit at 6 Months to a Year
1. To review your child’s oral hygiene, habits and diet. There are a lot of important topics that a good dentist or pediatric dentist will examine and review with you on your child’s first visit.
- Obviously they will be checked for any cavities or abnormalities in their teeth eruption patterns. While rare, some kids do develop cavities on their baby teeth within just months of the teeth coming out due to poor diet or genetic problems.
- The dentist can review how you are cleaning their teeth and advise you on proper use of hygiene products
- He or she can review their diet, sugar intake and evaluate the plaque buildup to determine their risk levels
- Habits such as teeth grinding, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, etc. will be examined and discussed
- Your dentist will also be on the look out for any medical issues that may have an oral manifestation
As you can see there can be quite of bit to discuss regarding oral health despite your child not having that many teeth in their tiny mouths!
2. They can be accessed for serious dental conditions such as nursing bottle syndrome. We do unfortunately run into very young children who have multiple infected teeth and almost every single time it is due to nursing bottle syndrome. Children who sleep overnight with a bottle containing sugary liquids, such as juices, expose their teeth to harmful sugars the entire night. This is very dangerous and can lead to aggressive cavities on a whole bunch of their teeth. Your dentist will evaluate your child to ensure that this isn’t occurring and review their dietary habits. Another detrimental condition that can adversely affect teeth even at a young age is thumb-sucking or tongue-thrusting. These bad habits can lead to the child having an open bite which would require years of orthodontic work to fix. Your dentist can discuss these with you and offer possible early interventions to help avoid or minimize the damage if caught early enough.
3. Children’s baby teeth are actually important. Even though baby teeth only last for 5 to 10 years (depending on their location) they are still very important for many reasons.
- Children need their baby teeth to eat, speak and to build up their confidence while growing up
- Baby teeth maintain spaces for the adult teeth to come out correctly when they are ready to do so. Losing multiple baby teeth almost always means that your child will have crowding issues and will require braces to correct their bite.
- Baby teeth can develop cavities just like adult teeth can. They can similarly become infected or cause serious pain. And keep in mind that if a baby tooth becomes infected early on, say when your child is 1 or 2 years old, that tooth still has to last them another 4 to 9 years which is a very long time.
As you can see baby teeth are important and you definitely need to intervene early to fix any problems with baby teeth or face dealing with pain and difficult treatments including extractions or baby root canals known as pulpotomies.