Key professional dental bodies such as the Australian Dental Association and the International Association of Paediatric Dentistry recommend for all children to have their dental check up when their first tooth cuts through and no later than 12 months of age and that a “dental home ” (regular dental visits at a trusted dental practice) should be established. Having access to a trusted dental team from an early age, can make all the difference when it comes to optimizing your children’s oral health for life.
Assess and identify any oral conditions
Developmental oral conditions such as gum lesions, soft tissue changes and teeth problems are actually relatively common in children. Early assessment of baby’s mouth, to make sure the oral structures are developing well can prevent bigger problems later.
For example, developmental enamel defects are common The presence of enamel defects increase the risks of tooth decay, dental erosion and natural breakdown of baby’s teeth. Developmental enamel defects can be subtle and if left undetected, can lead to tooth breakdown, pain and infection. Visiting the dentist early provides an opportunity for early detection and if necessary, intervention.
Prevention is most effective when started as early as possible. This is especially true for tooth decay, which is the most common chronic childhood disease globally. Prevention also applies to the prevention of gum problems, tooth wear and poor jaw development.
Starting dental visits from an early age can maximize the benefits of prevention and reduce the need for treatment, especially complex treatment, later.
Anticipatory guidance about growth and development
Early childhood is a time of rapid growth and development. There are many milestones to look forward to and prepare for.
Starting regular dental visits from infancy, provide the opportunities for parents/carers to ask questions and obtain information about what to expect at the next stage or milestone of development. For example: starting solids, teething, injury prevention once baby starts crawling and walking, speaking, dummy or thumb sucking are worth preparing for. Baby’s oral health is an integral
part of general health and well-being and vice versa, so it is definitely worth having the guidance from a knowledgeable dental team.
Gain skills for at home oral care
At home, parents take on a variety of roles, including that of a dental professional and role model, when it comes to oral hygiene for baby.
Every baby and every home is different so generalized advice tends to be of less benefit.
Customized advice on how best to care for your baby’s oral health taking into account your circumstances and lifestyle can make oral care easier and more effective. A small guided change in habit can have huge long term benefits. Ultimately it is the day in day out efforts that matter the most in the prevention of oral diseases.
Dental confidence for life
The fear of dental visits is common. To prevent dental anxiety and the trauma of dragging an unhappy child to see a dentist, start the habit of dental visits early. By visiting the same dental team over time, greater trust is developed and anticipatory fear or fear of the unknown is lessened. Children who go to the dentist from a young age tend to be more oral health aware, more likely to
make good oral health choices and more likely to be dentally confident for life.
Treatment only concept of dental visits is old school. The stability and predictability of regular dental visits from a young age reduces the need for comprehensive dental treatment and focuses on prevention and lifelong optimial oral health maintenance. The costs and pains saved from a life time
of good oral health is well worth the investment.