As a parent, you play a significant part in keeping your child healthy, but many parents don’t realize just how important dental health is. By helping your child with their oral health routine, you can help prevent cavities, tooth decay and dental complications as they grow up.
The good news is, you don’t have to do it alone. In fact, it is essential that your child receives professional help and that you bring your child in for regular dental checkups and cleanings. Your dentist can examine your child’s teeth and explain the practices you can implement into your child’s daily oral health routine. But how do you know when you should book your child’s first dental checkup?
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about why dental exams are important for children, how often they should see their dentist, and additional tips for caring for your child’s teeth.
Why Children’s Dental Exams are Important
When your child receives a dental checkup, their dentist will examine your child’s overall oral hygiene and check for signs & symptoms of common oral diseases. The sooner your child gets a dental checkup, the healthier their mouths will be in the long run.
The benefits of regular dental checkups go beyond just preventing cavities and cleaning your teeth. During a dental exam, your dentist can:
- Answer any questions you may have about your child’s oral health
- Give you tips & tricks for teeth cleaning at home
- Introduce your child to dental exams in a positive way
What If I Don’t Take My Child to the Dentist?
Oral health is a serious component of our overall health and affects more than just our smile. If your child doesn’t see the dentist regularly, they may be at a higher risk of developing dental issues such as:
- Tooth decay
- Tooth loss
- Gum disease
- Tooth stains
If left untreated, any of the above conditions can severely impact a child’s health and development. Your child’s dentist can also help detect early signs of more serious infections and diseases such as oral cancer. Early detection helps ensure a more positive outcome of treatment.
When Should My Child See the Dentist?
The Canadian Dental Association recommends that your child see the dentist for the first time between 6 months to 1 year or when their first tooth appears.
From there, a dental exam every six months is ideal. Early detection is the best way to prevent cavities and oral diseases, and biannual checkups allow your child’s dentist to catch minor dental problems before they become serious.
Depending on the circumstances of your child’s oral health, your dentist may recommend more frequent visits.
Caring for Your Child’s Teeth
Young children are not able to clean their own teeth effectively. As they get older, they’ll need less and less supervision. As a parent, how do you know what to do? Well, there are a few general guidelines you can follow, but the best way to get specific advice is by booking an appointment and getting your child in to see their dentist.
No matter your child’s age, there are a few key things you should remember when it comes to your child’s oral health routine:
- Use a toothbrush with soft bristles that is the correct size for their mouth
- Replace your child’s toothbrush every 3 to 4 months
- Make sure your child’s toothpaste contains fluoride, provided that your child is old enough to be able to spit out the toothpaste and not swallow it
- Use a pea-sized portion of toothpaste
How Should I Care for My Baby’s Teeth?
You can start practicing good oral hygiene on your child before they even have teeth. This will:
- Get your child used to you cleaning their mouth
- Keep the mouth clean
- Get you and your child into a good routine
- Give your baby’s first teeth a clean place to grow into
A typical oral health care routine for a child 0-3 years old should follow this general outline:
- Until your baby has teeth, use a clean, damp washcloth to wipe your babies gums
- Once your baby’s first teeth begin to appear, you can start to use a toothbrush and toothpaste to brush your baby’s teeth and gums
- As soon as your baby has two teeth next to each other, you can begin flossing daily
How Should I Care for My Toddler’s Teeth?
Children under 3 years of age should still have their teeth brushed by an adult, but toddler age is a good time to begin teaching your child how to brush their own teeth. At this age, your child should:
- have their teeth brushed at least twice a day
- Have their teeth flossed at least once a day
How Should I Care for My School-Aged Child’s Teeth?
When your child is ready to start kindergarten, it usually means they are ready to start doing their dental hygiene routine on their own, although they will still need help with flossing until about age 10.
How Can I Prevent My Child from Getting Cavities?
Here are some ways you can maintain the health of your child’s teeth and gums:
- Limit sugary and sticky foods and beverages
- Brush your child’s teeth after giving them medicine. This is because many medicines that are made for children also contain sugar.
- Introduce your child to a variety of healthy foods to ensure they are getting all the vitamins and minerals they need
- Visit the dentist regularly
Book an appointment with your dentist today if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s oral health!