Children begin to get teeth at an early age. The question is, at what age should children have their first visit to a dentist? In this report, Dr. Stuart Rich talks about the first visit and proper dental care for small children.
Dr. Rich recommends that children should have their first visit to a dentist when they are one year old. The visit is really just a ride in the chair on a parent’s lap. There will be a discussion of diet and habits. Parents will be told that they need to start brushing their children’s gums with special infant toothbrushes. The idea is to make if fun and to train children to allow it so that there won’t be a problem later.
The first real dental visit occurs about age two, when children can sit in the chair by themselves. They will have about twenty teeth, and ideally, parents have been cleaning the teeth at home. At this visit, the plaque will be removed, and if possible, x-rays will be taken. The visit will be friendly so that children “will love us.” A skilled hygienist can convince an unwilling child to cooperate and enjoy the visit.
Dr. Rich says that he will occasionally find cavities in children that young, especially if the parents have not worked with their children, thinking that it doesn’t matter with baby teeth. But it matters a lot, says Dr. Rich, so it is important to get kids onto the right track as soon as possible.
As far as a list of “don’ts” for parents, sugar and simple carbohydrates lead the list. “A lot of parents are still putting their child to sleep or nap with a bottle,” often with milk or juice. Both have sugar, and that is a big problem. A child will drink the bottle while falling asleep, leaving a pool of sugar in the mouth with saliva flowing into it. “The bacteria just have a heyday with that.” Acid is created, enamel is dissolved, and a problem is created. If the child needs a bottle, water is the best filler. Parents should be trying to get children off bottles and pacifiers as soon as reasonably possible to avoid jaw development problems and orthodontics later in life.
Dr. Stuart H. Rich, DDS, practices dentistry with Simply Smiles of Auburn, Washington. Dr. Stuart Rich has been rated Top Dentist for the 5th year in a row, including 2014, by a survey of dental specialists, published annually in Seattle Metropolitan magazine. Sleep Better TV is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.