Regular visits to the dentist are important for everyone, but it is even more important in the case of children. Blackstone Family Dentistry is a big believer in beginning a child’s oral care as early as possible in order to ward off potential problems and create life-long good habits.
If a child doesn’t receive proper dental care, it could lead to serious health problems that last a lifetime. Consider the following facts:
- According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, tooth decay is the most common childhood disease—twenty times more common than diabetes and five times more common than asthma. Up to 40% of children have tooth decay by the time they reach kindergarten.
- The Center for Disease Control reports that 19% of kids between the ages of 2-19 have untreated cavities.
- Kids between the age of 5-9 are more prone to cavities than people of any other age.
- Cavity-causing bacteria can be transmitted from a mother to her baby even before the baby has teeth. Thus, poor oral hygiene in a parent will cause dental health issues for a child.
Not only do dental health issues cause long-lasting health problems in children, they also hurt them in other ways. For example, the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools estimates that 51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental related illnesses.
It’s much easier to schedule two routine dental checkups a year for kids during convenient times when school is not in session, vs having to address dental health issues at inconvenient times because preventive care was neglected.
Dental Care for Infants
You may think that infants with no teeth or only one or two baby teeth might not need dental care, but you’d be wrong. Even before a baby gets his or her first tooth, parents should wipe down their gums with gauze or a soft wet washcloth.
Before your child’s first birthday, you should schedule their first check-up with our office so that we can help you give them the dental care they need at home. First-time parents especially will benefit from getting expert advice from a trained professional about pediatric dental care.
Importance of Sealants for Cavity Prevention in Children
Once your child gets older and starts getting their permanent adult teeth, one important thing that should be done to keep their teeth healthy is applying dental sealants.
Sealants are a thin protective coating that is applied to molars (the back teeth used for chewing), which prevents cavity-causing bacteria and acid from penetrating the tooth. They aren’t a substitute for flossing and brushing, but they play an important role in preventing cavities.
Sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of tooth decay in molars by nearly 80%, and school age children with them have three times fewer cavities than those without them. Unfortunately, only about 43% of children aged 6-11 have sealants.
Applying sealants is quick and painless; once applied they last for years before they need to be re-applied.
Many dental insurance plans will cover at least part of the cost of sealants for children. You can contact our office and we’ll help you determine if your children are covered.
Frequently Asked Questions about Pediatric Dental Care
We get many questions from parents about their child’s dental care. Here are some of the most frequent questions we get along with the answers.
How soon should I take my infant to the dentist for the first time?
You should bring an infant in for their first dental appointment six months after the first tooth appears or by their first birthday, whichever happens first.
Do you accept Smiles for Children?
Yes, we accept Smiles for Children (the Medicaid dental insurance program for children).
Is it that big a deal if my child has a cavity in a baby tooth? After all, they’re just going to fall out anyway.
Baby teeth are important for many reasons, and cavities in baby teeth can cause all sorts of health problems including infections, tooth pain, bite alignment issues, etc. You should treat a cavity in your child’s baby tooth with the same urgency that you would treat a cavity in your own tooth. A toothache in a baby tooth hurts just as much as one in an adult tooth.
How often do I need to bring my child to the dentist?
You should bring your child in for a routine dental cleaning and examination once every six months. These preventative care visits will be covered by just about every dental insurance carrier and are a very important part of keeping your child’s teeth healthy for life. This also allows us to find any problems early, when they are typically easier to fix.
Do I need to bring my child in to the dentist if a baby tooth gets knocked out?
If a baby tooth gets knocked out (vs falling out naturally), then you should probably bring your child to the dentist to make sure that there aren’t any pieces of the tooth left in the mouth or other issues that could cause problems later. Trauma to a baby tooth can cause trauma to the adult tooth that will replace it.