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Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases among children. Due to a lack of oral hygiene or poor practice in the care of baby teeth, children are increasingly more likely to develop some kind of oral problem. How can this be avoided? The key is not to prolong children's first dental check-up too long.
Paediatric dentistry is the branch of dentistry that focuses on the care of different oral diseases that occur at an early age. As important, or even more so, than in adults, children should also visit the dentist regularly to care for their primary dentition and ensure the correct formation of their permanent teeth.
When should children have their first dental check-up?
When it comes to deciding when it is most convenient for children to have their first dental check-up, although paediatric dentists suggest different times, it should never go beyond the age of three.
Thus, some recommend that children should have their first check-up after the eruption of the first milk teeth, between 6 months and 1 year of age.
Other experts, however, consider that it is advisable to wait until 3 years of age, when the baby has already completed its dentition, made up of 20 milk teeth.
However, good oral health and oral hygiene habits are the responsibility of parents and should begin to be instilled even before the baby teeth appear. It is of utmost importance that babies keep their gums and teeth clean after each feeding to prevent the development of tooth decay, which is becoming increasingly common in infants.
How often should children go to the dentist?
It is not necessary to wait until a baby has a dental problem before starting dental check-ups. In order to prevent tooth decay, ensure the correct eruption of teeth, and control the formation of the maxillary and mandibular bones, babies should visit the dentist in their first year of life, and repeat check-ups every 6 months.
While follow-up visits to the dentist for adults can be up to 12 months, with a minimum of once a year, children's mouths change so rapidly that more extensive follow-up is necessary.
During this period of time, a qualified paediatric dentistry professional is able to detect early on, or to indicate to parents the best guidelines to prevent different pathologies such as caries and anomalies in the formation of the baby's jaws and teeth.
Care of baby teeth in children
Children's oral health care differs slightly from that of adults. Parents are not always aware of the hygiene habits that children need, or do not know how to help them implement them into their daily routine.
From brushing baby teeth, starting to use dental floss and mouthwash, what types of products are most suitable for children, and how to administer fluoride, are some of the guidelines that paediatric dentists teach parents so that they can communicate them in the best way possible to their children.
Although baby teeth are temporary and will fall out during childhood, younger children can also develop cavities, with all the discomfort and pain that would entail.
In addition, damage to baby teeth and gum infections directly affect the correct formation and eruption of the permanent teeth that each person will have for the rest of their lives.
What are first visits to the dentist like for children?
A consultation with a paediatric dentist takes place in a similar way to dental check-ups for adults. In the first consultation, the professional must gain the baby's trust, making them feel safe in a process that will become a regular occurrence throughout their childhood.
Once the baby feels comfortable and safe, accompanied at all times by their parents or caregivers, the dentist will proceed to check the teeth and gums. Through direct observation of the baby's oral cavity, the dentist will be able to detect possible problems and assess the baby's general oral health.
Based on the needs of each child, the paediatric dentist will make the corresponding observations addressed to the parents. These are aimed at ensuring that the adults responsible for the health care of the little ones learn the correct hygiene guidelines to follow and how to pass them on to the child as he or she grows up and can take care of brushing and caring for his or her own teeth.
If your child has a bad brushing habit, it is time to correct it in time to avoid future problems.
When a child goes to the dentist for the first time to treat a cavity or because he/she is in pain, the experience will be more unpleasant for him/her, and he/she may remember the visit to the dentist in the future as something negative.
Recommendations for going to the dentist with children
The fear of the dentist that some babies or children may suffer from is an unfounded feeling that comes from a bad experience. To prevent children from suffering during regular check-ups, and in order to make the visit to the paediatric dentist more pleasant, there are some recommendations that parents can follow:
- Encourage your child to have a good relationship with their paediatric dentist by finding a dentist who is compatible with their personality.
- Prepare your child before the dentist's visit by explaining the importance of the check-up and what the procedure involves.
- Avoid instilling your fears of the dentist in children.
- Go to the appointment in advance, choosing a time when the child will be rested.
- Involve them at all times in the different procedures, to help them feel safe.
- Reward him or her for good behaviour after the consultation by expressing pride or with a small gift.
Discover more tips for children to lose their fear of going to the dentist we offer you on the KIN blog. By putting them into practice, any child's first dental check-up will become a very pleasant adventure.