If you're like the majority of parents, you've put off bringing your child to a dentist past the age of one year. Preventive dental care at an early age is important, so set an appointment for your youngster as soon as possible. That early dental checkup can alert you and the dentist to any problems that are appearing and let you know whether some changes need to be made in the child's oral care.
A study of Toronto children found that less than 2 percent had seen a dentist by the age of two years old. By age four, 61 percent had been to a dentist, but that still left 39 percent with no dental care at that point. Nearly one in four of the kids who had been to a dental clinic had at least one cavity.
It's not just Toronto where these statistics are typical. The American Dental Association (ADA) reports similar numbers, noting that 3 of 5 children (60 percent) see a dentist before kindergarten and 40 percent don't. In addition, more than half of children between the ages of six and eight have cavities—a situation that might be prevented with early dental care.
The Importance of Early Checkups
The ADA advises parents that each child should have a dental appointment by his or her first birthday. During a checkup by the age of one year—and particularly by the age of two years—a dentist can find evidence of problems that you can likely resolve with prompt behavior changes.
For instance, many little children love keeping a bottle of milk with them in the crib or sipping on fruit juice during the day. That can cause cavities, however, since the sugars from the milk and juice linger on the teeth.
If a youngster does have one or more cavities, it's important to address the problem quickly. As cavities worsen, they can cause pain and spread to other teeth. Decaying baby teeth can even have a negative effect on the health of the permanent teeth growing in behind them.
What Can You Do Now?
Make an appointment for your little one with a family practice dentist or a pediatric dentist. If the child does have any cavities, the dentist will fill them and provide recommendations for avoiding this problem in the future. Preventive therapy may be in order, such as fluoride treatments and dental sealants. With regular dental care from this point forward, your child will have much better oral health that will protect the permanent teeth as well.