One question we get asked frequently is “when should I bring my baby in to have their teeth checked by the dentist?” Although it may seem early, bringing in your child at the age of one is ideal because it promotes preventive care of their teeth. The goal is to have your child visit the dentist before there is a problem with his or her teeth.
The next question we hear is “but my baby only has 4 teeth, what is the dentist even looking at?” Here are three reasons to take your child for dental exams every 6 months:
You can find out how well your home routine is working
Problems can be detected early on by the dentist
You will learn the importance of preventive dental care
As your child gets older, we might take dental radiographs to check for decay between the teeth and to assess how their teeth are coming in. Should there be decay on a baby molar, it definitely needs to be addressed. The third remark we hear often is “but it’s just a baby tooth, it’s going to fall out anyway!” Primary (or “baby”) molars will be in your child’s mouth until the age of 12, and if left untreated, the decay can spread, resulting in possibly needing to pull the tooth out.
Once your child is six years old, they will most likely have their first permanent molars by this point and the dentist may recommend the placement of a preventive sealant. A sealant is a type of plastic that is put on the chewing surface of molars to make it less likely to trap food and bacteria.
As your child starts losing primary teeth and the new adult teeth start coming in, the last thing the dentist looks at is the alignment of the adult teeth. Misaligned teeth can cause bite problems, but can also affect eating, speaking and keeping the teeth clean. The dentist may suggest a referral to an orthodontist to address any potential bite problems.
So although children have their baby teeth for around 12 years of their lives, they are the foundation for their adult teeth, and we hope that promoting good oral hygiene at a young age will translate to lifetime a healthy teeth and gums.