Did you know that more than 25 percent of 4-year-olds have already had a cavity? Many parents don’t think about a child getting a cavity that young, but it’s possible and very common.
How can you take preventative measures against cavities and other dental problems for your baby or toddler? Good oral care begins at birth and taking your baby to the dentist as soon as her first tooth erupts can help you stay on track with her oral care.
Why are Dental Exams Important for Babies and Toddlers?
It’s possible for kids 2 and younger to be prone to cavity causing bacteria. Some oral problems run in families. Other children are more susceptible to cavities due to their diet, sugar intake, or sensitivities to oral hygiene routines.
Even the youngest children can benefit from dental exams, which will get them used to more complex exams in the future that include x-rays, cleanings, and possible fillings. During these exams, parents can also learn important information about their child’s oral health and ways to prevent issues in the future. You can discuss any questions you have, like when to expect your child’s next tooth or how to soothe teething pain.
Baby Dental Exams
A dental exam for a baby is basic unless complex problems arise. Your child’s dentist will examine baby’s gums and teeth, if any, to look for signs of problematic oral hygiene. He will also ensure that your child is reaching general teething milestones, like swollen gums, white caps, and first molars.
This is also an excellent time for parents and dentists to discuss proper oral hygiene for your child. For example, your dentist will talk about ways to get your child excited about brushing and flossing, like reading books about taking care of his teeth. Your dentist might also suggest some changes in your child’s diet to better care for his teeth, like avoiding putting your baby to sleep with a bottle.
Toddler Dental Exams
A toddler who is one or older will receive a more in-depth dental exam to make sure no signs of cavities or other dental issues are present. Your child’s dentist will likely clean the teeth your toddler has. He will instruct you in the best ways to keep her teeth clean, like limiting high-carb snacks and brushing your toddler’s teeth at least twice per day.
The dentist will also check your toddler’s bite to make sure her teeth are aligning properly. This can help the dentist see if your child is at risk for an under-bite, overbite, or other jaw misalignment.
The Importance of Orthodontics
Orthodontic care is important for adults and children alike. Regular orthodontic exams can help prevent and treat jaw and bite problems that affect oral health, like underbites, overbites, and “buck” teeth.
The recommended age for your child’s first orthodontic exam is 7-years-old, when his permanent molars begin to erupt through the gums. At this time, your child’s orthodontist can get a better view of how his teeth are growing in and whether or not he may need braces in the future.
Not all children develop their permanent teeth at the same time, so occasionally check your child’s mouth for their first sign of permanent molars and take note of anything you find concerning, like crooked or extra teeth.
Keep your child up-to-date with his dental and orthodontic exams to ensure the healthiest oral hygiene as your child grows.