Every time you take your child to see a physician for well child visits, there is always a series of age appropriate questions that helps the physician assess how things are moving along from a health perspective as well as developmental milestones etc. The same goes for dental visits.
When parents bring their children to the dentist for the first time, it’s great that we get to look at their teeth, but there is so much more to it than that. Often children will get referred to see us for cavities, but that’s not all that happens in the office. Some of our most important visits are for seemingly simple things like, to use an official term, “anticipatory guidance”, which is a complicated way of saying “instruction manual”.
There are many topics to consider when it comes to children’s oral health, and these topics vary according to age. For example: a 1 year old child only has some of their baby teeth, and may not necessarily need a comprehensive dental exam and cleaning. More importantly, the parents of the one year old child need information that can help them make informed decisions about their child’s oral, and overall health.
The parents of a three year old child, who has been going to the dentist from a young age, have a pretty good idea how to care for their child’s teeth, after having regular visits with their questions being answered as the child develops. What is needed at this stage is a dental home where parents can look for information regarding dental development, have questions answered regarding soothers/thumb sucking or other oral habits, or trauma (like that time (insert child’s name) fell and hit their mouth on the_____ (insert: coffee table, tile floor, shopping cart, monkey bars etc.).
The bottom line is this: if children see the dentist at 1 year of age, or 6 months after the eruption of their first teeth, a world of opportunity opens up. The parents suddenly have information that can help prevent or help address any number of concerns, from fluoride exposure, oral habits, teething, cavities, dietary considerations (bottle in bed etc.), and trauma, to name just a few. Children also get an opportunity to develop a relationship with their dental care providers, and a comfort with the environment, which we will all admit, can be somewhat intimidating. There is an old saying that you’ve probably heard before, and if you bring your kids to our office, you will likely hear me saying it, they’re words I live by: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Sometimes the best way to prevent problems is to be informed about their existence.