Child Dentistry and the Dental Home
Your child’s first visit- The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and The American Dental Association have supported the idea of establishing a dental home for all children to promote ongoing preventative care.
The first “regular” dental visit should be just after your child’s third birthday and possibly before. The first dental visit is usually short and involves very little treatment. The doctors and Kennedy Dental invite you to inform us about your desires for your children. Our goal is to provide excellent, preventative care. We may ask you to sit in the dental chair and hold your child during the examination. You may also be asked to wait in the reception area during part of the visit so that a relationship can be built between your child and your dentist. We want both the child and the parent to be comfortable in our office and we welcome your questions and interest. Children develop at different ages and their teeth do the same. Good oral care is a lifetime habit and the earlier it starts, the better.
Prior to age one parents can begin the oral health care education for their children. At Kennedy Dental we support infant health care by supplying Free Baby Gift Bags with tooth care supplies and instructions. By establishing an ongoing relationship with a dentist, many dental problems can be prevented or treated early with less invasive techniques.
We often refer parents to an article entitled “the surprising truth about cavities” published in Parents Magazine regarding the transmission of oral bacteria to children.
We will gently examine your child’s teeth and gums. X-rays may be taken (to reveal decay and check on the progress of your child’s permanent teeth under the gums). We may clean your child’s teeth and apply topical fluoride to help protect the teeth against decay. We will also make sure your child is receiving adequate fluoride at home. Most important of all, we will review with you how to clean and care for your child’s teeth.
What should I tell my child about the first dental visit?
We are asked this question many times. We suggest you prepare your child the same way you would before his first haircut or trip to the shoe store. Your child’s reaction to his first visit to the dentist may surprise you. It is very important for parents to have a positive approach to dental visits.
Here are some “First Visit” tips:
- Take your child for a “preview” of the office.
- Read books with them about going to the dentist.
- Review with them what the dentist will be doing at the time of the first visit.
- Speak positively about your own dental experiences.
During your first visit the dentist will:
- Examine your mouth, teeth and gums.
- Evaluate adverse habits like thumb sucking.
- Check to see if you need fluoride.
- Teach you about cleaning your teeth and gums.
- Suggest a schedule for regular dental visits.
What about preventative care?
Tooth decay and children no longer have to go hand in hand. At our office we are most concerned with all aspects of preventive care. We use the latest in dental sealant technology to protect your child’s teeth. Dental sealants are space-age plastics that are bonded to the chewing surfaces of decay-prone back teeth. This is just one of the ways we will set the foundation for your child’s lifetime of good oral health.
Most of the time cavities are due to a diet high in sugary foods and a lack of brushing. Limiting sugar intake and brushing regularly, of course, can help. The longer it takes your child to chew his food and the longer the residue stays on his teeth, the greater the chances of getting cavities. Research is being done in this area but we know for sure that decayed teeth can result in lower body weight, lost time in school, occlusion problems due to lost teeth and needless fears.
Every time someone eats, an acid reaction occurs inside his mouth as the bacteria digests the sugars. This reaction lasts approximately 20 minutes. During this time the acid environment can destroy the tooth structure, eventually leading to cavities. Children (and adults) have access to greater amounts of sugary diets with carbohydrates and sodas. Milk is no longer the liquid of choice, and this has far reaching implications for overall health. The bottled water phenomenon has also had a major effect on the teeth of Americans. Many people do not get the fluoride they need for strong teeth.
Consistency of a person’s saliva also makes a difference; thinner saliva breaks up and washes away food more quickly. When a person eats a diet high in carbohydrates and sugars they tend to have thicker saliva, which in turn allows more of the acid-producing bacteria that can cause cavities.
Dental Caries is the #1 childhood disease, five times more prevalent than #2, which is asthma
28% of children ages 2-5 have had decay in their primary teeth
68% of 19-year-olds have experienced tooth decay in their permanent teeth. More than two-thirds!
Tips for cavity prevention
- Limit frequency of meals and snacks.
- Encourage brushing, flossing and rinsing.
- Watch what your child drinks.
- Avoid giving your child sticky foods.
- Make treats part of meals.
- Choose nutritious snacks.
The first baby teeth that come into the mouth are the two bottom front teeth. You will notice this when your baby is about 6-8 months old. Next to follow will be the 4 upper front teeth and the remainder of your baby’s teeth will appear periodically. They will usually appear in pairs along the sides of the jaw until the child is about 2 1/2 years old.
At around 2 1/2 years old your child should have all 20 teeth. Between the ages of 5 and 6 the first permanent teeth will begin to erupt. Some of the permanent teeth replace baby teeth and some don’t. Don’t worry if some teeth are a few months early or late as all children are different.