The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children go to the dentist by age one or within six months of the first tooth coming in. Consistent dental care is important because the most common chronic disease in school-age children is cavities! By exposing your child to regularly scheduled dental check-ups, a child’s comfort and confidence level can rise. And of course, small problems can be dealt with before they become big problems. To ensure optimum oral health, parents should begin at home by establishing age-appropriate dental habits.
For young children under the age of six, permanent teeth begin to replace baby teeth. Although this is an age at which children like to practice independence, parents should still physically brush their children’s teeth at least once a day. Kids seem to be pretty good at brushing the front teeth but often miss the new teeth emerging in the back. Parents can gradually phase in more time that their child brushes, but still supervise.
Between the ages of seven and twelve, children should be able to independently brush and floss their teeth. The problem is that they may not want to. During these years, parents should continue to strongly encourage healthy dental habits.
When children reach their teens, dentists often see an increase in the appearance of cavities. They may be making poor nutritional choices, as well as slacking off on practicing proper dental hygiene. This is also a time when some kids become more involved in organized sports and should be encouraged to wear mouth guards when appropriate.
Throughout your child’s adolescence, your dentist can provide professional cleanings, apply sealants and fluoride treatments, and take x-rays to check for signs of decay. No matter your child’s age, remember that regular dental exams are the key to a lifetime of good oral health.