Early Dental Visits Essential to Children's Health

February is National Children's Dental Health Month. It's sponsored each year by the American Dental Association to raise awareness among families and policymakers about the critical importance to children of good practices of oral health.

"Oral health is such an important part of a child's overall good health, and yet it can be overlooked in young children" said Dr. Mark J. Feldman, ADA president. "Good oral health practices should begin with an introductory dental visit before a child's first birthday."

"Children's teeth are meant to last a lifetime" Dr. Feldman added, "and with proper care, a balanced diet and regular dental visits, children can have a lifetime of healthy smiles."

The ADA recommends regular dental check-ups, including a visit to the dentist within six months of the eruption of the first tooth, and no later than the child's first birthday. Preventive care such as cleanings and, if necessary, fluoride treatments provide children with 'smile' insurance. Routine dental exams uncover problems that can be easily treated in the early stages, when damage is minimal.

Dental sealants are used to protect the chewing surfaces from tooth decay, the single most common chronic childhood disease. Your dentist can help prevent or reduce the incidence of decay by applying sealants to your child's teeth.

A sealant is a clear or tooth-colored plastic material that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where decay occurs most often. Sealants protect normal depressions and grooves in the teeth called pits and fissures, which are particularly susceptible to tooth decay.

Any child involved in a recreational activity, such as soccer, hockey, football, skating, riding a scooter and even bicycling should wear a mouth guard. There are 'stock' mouth guards available in stores and a better-fitting variety, which are custom fitted by your dentist. Ask your dentist about using a mouth protector.

© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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What To Expect During a DENTAL VISIT

On your first visit, your dentist will take a full health history. On follow-up visits, if your health status has changed, make sure to tell your dentist. Here’s what you can expect during most trips to the dentist.

  • A Thorough Ceaning – a dental hygienist or dentist will scrape along and below the gum line to remove built-up plaque and tartar that can cause gum disease, cavities, bad breath and other problems. Then he or she will polish and floss your teeth.

  • A Full Dental Examination – your dentist will perform a thorough examination of your teeth, gums and mouth, looking for signs of disease or other problems.

  • X-Rays – X-rays can diagnose problems otherwise unnoticed, such as damage to jawbones, impacted teeth, abscesses, cysts or tumors, and decay between the teeth.