Healthy Teeth: Why Starting Early is Key

Posted May 18th, 2022

Today, our Lethbridge dentists explain why it's important to start forming good oral health care routines when your child is still young and how you may be able to accomplish this.

As parents of an infant, visiting the dentist might seem unnecessary until there is a mouthful of teeth to contend with. However, the Canadian Dental Association recommends bringing your child to the dentist for an assessment when their first tooth starts to erupt or by the time they are 12 months old.

The initial visit can help your child become comfortable with their dentist and establish a trusting relationship. A quick check of their teeth and gums will be done. Subsequent visits should be every six months for child dental care, the same as for adults.

3 Reasons Why You Should Bring Your Kid to The Dentist Early

  1. Build trust. Showing trust in your dentist can teach your child that visits to the dentist are safe and an important step in the prevention and treatment of problems.
  2. Check technique. Find out if the teeth cleaning routine at home is working. If spots are being missed, early discovery is key to keeping those teeth healthy!
  3. Proactive approach. By visiting the dentist every six months, your dentist can be proactive and catch any developing issues early.

It’s important to understand that a child’s primary (“baby”) teeth are at risk of developing early childhood tooth decay as their protective enamel is thinner than that of permanent teeth. Tooth decay can be painful, impacting your child’s overall health. It can also trigger issues with sleeping, speaking, or eating, as well as their ability to focus or learn.

Ways to Promote Good Oral Health Care to Your Child

  • Avoid offering bottles prior to naps or bedtime. If you can’t avoid it, try using water instead of milk or juice to avoid decay. Limit time with a bottle to five minutes or less to help prevent the development of orthodontic issues.
  • Start before the first tooth emerges! Using a clean, damp cloth, wipe your baby’s gums twice a day.
  • Take your child for their first dental visit around 12 months of age.
  • At the first sign of a tooth, brush your child’s teeth daily using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a very small amount of fluoride-free toothpaste until they’re old enough to spit it out (typically around 3 years old).
  • Teach your child to brush for two minutes twice a day.
  • Bring your child for regular dental visits. Every six months is optimal, but this may vary depending on your dentist.
  • Let your child practice brushing by copying you, then finish for them, making sure that all surfaces have been cleaned. Your child will need help with brushing until they’re about 8 years old.
  • Replace toothbrushes every few months or when they begin to show signs of wear, such as flattening or bushy bristles.

Contact our Lethbridge dentists today and schedule an appointment to start your child on the path of good oral health.

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