Dental care starts at a young age. Good oral hygiene habits established early would normally develop into lifestyle habits that extend into adulthood. Besides daily brushing and flossing, a child’s oral care maintenance program must also include regular visits to the dentist. That’s because professional dental care is crucial during the formative years of your child’s dental progress.
We like to briefly see children around the time their milk teeth start erupting at around 6-7 months. At this time we can establish good oral hygiene habits, discuss dietary impacts on oral health and monitor for normal development. However, it isn’t necessary for your child to have a full appointment until about 3 years of age when all the baby teeth have erupted into the mouth. Until then we are happy for your children to pop in at the beginning or end of your appointment every 6 months. This allows us to do a simple examination, identify any concerns and also encourages your child to feel comfortable within the dental setting.
Benefits of Childhood Visits to the Dentist
One of the biggest benefits of childhood dental visits is that they help to prevent dental caries (decay) and cavities. Dental caries is the medical name for the disease that destroys the tooth enamel and dentine, and gives rise to tooth decay and eventually cavities requiring fillings. Affecting millions of preschoolers all over the world, dental caries is more common among youngsters than any other chronic diseases, including diabetes or asthma.
The bacteria named mutans streptococcus are responsible for tooth decay. These sugar-feeding germs produce acids that destroy the structure of teeth by stripping away its calcium. The bacteria further spawn a yellowish film that sticks to teeth known as plaque, which also produce enamel-destroying acid. When parts of the surface of the tooth collapse due to acid erosion and calcium deficiency, the result is a cavity.
Even though some are more susceptible than others, all children can develop cavities. During the regular oral examinations, the dentist would be able to detect any small cavities and treat them before they develop into painful problems later. If a cavity is discovered early, the dentist can easily clean the tooth and fill up the minor gap.
Using specialised tools, the dentist can also remove plaque that normal brushing and flossing cannot. This would help to prevent the sticky substance from building up or hardening into calculus, which can cause significant damage to your child’s teeth. A dentist can also provide topical fluoride treatments to help strengthen your child’s teeth. Found in regular drinking water and toothpastes, fluoride is a naturally occurring substance that limits the production of corrosive acid, prevents mineral loss and restores calcium to decaying teeth.
Educating Children How to Clean Their Teeth
Another important area of oral hygiene maintenance is knowing what to do – and doing it the right way. The dentist or dental hygienist can guide your child in the proper techniques of brushing and flossing as well as offer nutritional tips on how to prevent a plaque attack. You can also talk to your dentist about employing preventative fissure sealants as an effective way to avoid a cavity. Since most cavities in children develop in the back teeth (molars), dental sealants are designed to cover the pits and grooves in the chewing surfaces of these back teeth to prevent bacteria and food debris from being trapped in these areas.
Although they are the most prevalent problems that affect children, dental visits are not solely meant for the prevention of tooth decay and cavities. The regular check-and-clean sessions are also essential for the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of gums diseases, mouth-breathing problems, bite problems (malocclusions), etc. There are many good reasons why you should consider scheduling a regular check-up for your kids. The decisions you make today will determine the health and functionality of your child’s smile for a long time to come.
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