Even though your child doesn’t keep his baby teeth forever, it is important to start the process of good oral hygiene early. Not only does it set your child up to maintain good oral hygiene, it is beneficial to take care of baby teeth as they do serve a purpose.
Baby teeth set the pathway for permanent teeth to erupt – they essentially save the place for the permanent teeth. On top of this, your child has baby teeth for most of his childhood and uses them to chew, speak and bite. Therefore, it is essential to keep them healthy and clean until they are lost.
First Dental Appointment
The main goal of the first dental appointment is to help children have a positive experience at the dentist so the earlier, the better. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, children should see a dentist for the first time by the age of one. Even though they may only have a tooth or two, dentists can instruct parents on how to properly maintain good oral care for their children and begin to watch for any issues in the development of their teeth. For babies with several teeth, dentists can check for cavities. Unfortunately, with babies and very young children, tooth decay develops quickly and may progress in less than six months.
Dental Treatments for Children
For the most part, with children, the objective of dental visits is clean the teeth and make sure there are no cavities or other issues affecting the mouth. The dental treatments for children typically performed include:
- Fluoride Treatments. In addition to professionally cleaning teeth, fluoride treatments are done to harden and protect the enamel on the teeth. This is a simple and painless procedure where a higher concentrate of fluoride is applied to the teeth for a short period of time then removed.
- X-Rays. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children with a high propensity for cavities have dental X-rays every six months as their teeth change rapidly. Dentists can see the development of any cavities inside the teeth that may not be visible with the naked eye. For children who maintain good oral care and are not prone to cavities, X-rays may be taken less often. Because children’s mouths develop very quickly, X-rays allow dentists to get a better picture of the teeth. X-rays are safe for children with the advances in the technology of the machines used.
- Sealants. Sealants are often applied to the tops of molars of children to prevent cavities from forming in the crevices of the molars. The sealants are easy to apply, last for years and prevent any tooth decay in the easiest areas for it to occur.
- Orthodontics. It is recommended that children see an orthodontist starting at the age of seven. While they may not wear braces for several years, orthodontists can watch their patients’ mouths and teeth develop. As this takes place, they can help direct the positioning of teeth into their proper position and even direct jaw growth starting at an early age.
- Fillings. For children who have tooth decay (cavities), dentists must remove the decay and replace the area with a composite to fill the area. This is done to prevent the decay from spreading and taking over the entire tooth causing more issues.
- Extractions. With children, most extractions are done with baby teeth that are not coming out quickly enough and tend to cause the permanent teeth to move out of the correct position.When there seems to be inadequate room, dentists and orthodontists may decide the best course of action is to pull the baby teeth. Because they are baby teeth and not permanently rooted into the bone, the procedure is very quick and easy.