Kids' Dental Care

Most parents have a general idea of when to expect large milestones to occur in their child’s life.  Crawling, walking, and talking are all significant moments that are eagerly anticipated and planned for. However, many parents don’t know when they should schedule a child’s first dental appointment, how often a child should visit a dentist, or the problems that can disrupt their child’s oral health development, if not taken care of early.

To give you a better idea about what to expect during your child’s oral health journey, here’s what every parent should know before visiting our kids’ dentistry in Aloha.

When Should I Schedule My Child’s First Appointment?

Dr. Bronitsky and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child receive their first dental visit shortly after their first tooth develops or by the age of 12 months, whichever comes first.

While this may seem early, the bacteria responsible for the development of tooth decay and cavities begins to attack the health of a child’s teeth from the moment they first emerge from the gum line. Early exams allow our experienced kids’ dentist to monitor the development of your child’s teeth while also having the opportunity to spot the early signs of decay.

How Frequently Should My Child See a Dentist?

Just as with adults, Dr. Bronitsky recommends that kids undergo a dental exam at least once every six months. Early exams provide Dr. Bronitsky with the opportunity to spot any problems with a child’s oral health development early on.

Early signs of tooth decay or teeth forming crooked or out of position can provide Dr. Bronitsky with valuable insight on how a child’s oral health may continue to progress and give an indication of what steps need to be taken to correct any issues that may develop into long-term problems.

Depending on the state of your child’s oral health, Dr. Bronitsky may recommend more frequent visits.

What Oral Health Problems Could My Child Develop?

One of the biggest early threats to a child’s oral health development is Early Childhood Caries, also known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. This common condition occurs when a child drinks sugary beverages from a bottle. Their front teeth come into continuous contact with the liquid. Plaque transforms these sugars into harmful substances that work to breakdown tooth enamel. The more frequently a parent feeds their child from a bottle without cleaning their teeth and gums immediately after, the more damage plaque can do to their long-term oral health.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay occurs most frequently when kids are given a bottle as part of being laid down to sleep. To reduce the risk of tooth decay, the AAPD recommends that parents never lay their child down with a bottle that contains anything other than plain water.

How Should I Care For My Child’s Oral Health?

From birth, parents should clean their child’s teeth using a clean, soft cloth. Parents should begin to brush their child’s teeth using a kids’ sized toothbrush after the emergence of their first tooth.

For kids under the age of 24 months, parents should use no more than a light smear of toothpaste. Parents should avoid using any toothpaste that contains fluoride until their child is old enough to not swallow when having their teeth brushed. For kids between the ages of 2 to 5, parents should use slightly more – about the size of a pea – toothpaste when brushing. Parents should also continue assisting their kids when brushing until they are old enough to properly brush and floss on their own.

Are Baby Teeth Really That Important to My Child’s Oral Health Development?

While it’s easy to discount baby teeth as only playing a temporary role in your child’s oral health development, they actually serve a more important part than you might think. Baby teeth act as space holders that help to direct the development of a child’s permanent teeth. When a child loses a baby tooth at too young an age, neighboring teeth can begin to shift over to fill the vacant space. As a child’s teeth begin to move out of position, their permanent teeth may start to form crooked, crowded or misaligned.

Keeping a child’s baby teeth healthy makes it far easier for adult teeth to properly develop. This increases the likelihood that your child’s teeth develop with minimal problems. While protecting your child’s baby teeth won’t eliminate a potential need for braces later on, it can help to decrease the likelihood of orthodontic treatment.

How Can I Ensure My Child Takes Their Oral Health Seriously?

Getting a child to take brushing and flossing seriously can easily become the source of some serious frustration for parents. Fortunately, Dr. Bronitsky has a few suggestions that could make this daily habit less of a headache for parents.

To start, parents need to stress the importance of brushing and flossing to their kids starting at a young age. As you brush your child’s teeth, try talking to them about why it’s important to brush and floss, and what could happen to their smile if they don’t take the habits seriously. It’s also important that parents set their own example when it comes to brushing. By demonstrating to your kids how seriously mommy and daddy take their oral health, it’s easier for your kids to learn from your example than when using a “do as I say, not as I do” approach.