When it comes to children and their oral health, it’s never too early to think about making that first trip to the dentist, and a dentist who practices general dentistry, like Dr. Cooley Bentz, is a great place to start.

Start your child on the path to great oral health with these tips for children.

Get An Early Start

Did you know it is recommended that children begin seeing the dentist as early as their first birthday? While the first visit or two to the dentist is about getting the child used to the dentist’s office and chair, it can also serve as a great educational opportunity for parents to learn how to care for their child’s teeth. This can be very beneficial for first-time parents!

The standard bi-annual dental visit for children should start by the time they are three, and a dentist will usually take your child’s first set of X-rays by the time they start kindergarten, or around age five. Believe it or not, cavities can begin to form that early, so encourage your children to keep up with proper brushing and flossing! It is super important to visit the dentist twice a year, so get your children in the habit early!

Some dentists recommend children visit an orthodontist as early as age seven. Seeing an orthodontist early allows your orthodontist to identify any jaw or bone issues. Your child might need early orthodontic treatment, such as a palatal expander to ensure proper growth of their jaw. Early intervention doesn’t mean your child won’t need orthodontic treatment in the future, but it could reduce the time (and cost) needed to achieve optimal results.

Having your child visit the dentist early (and frequently) can help prevent bad dental habits, and your dentist can identify any concerns before they become serious, because, sometimes, waiting to address issues with a child’s teeth can lead to more complex procedures later on (and no one wants that!).

Protective Sealants

Your child’s dentist may recommend a protective sealant to coat some of your kiddo’s teeth at around age seven. What is this protective sealant? It is a plastic resin that bonds to the surface of their teeth, creating a barrier between your child’s teeth and enamel-damaging bacteria that can build up. It’s most commonly used on the back molars, which have extra ridged surfaces that can be difficult for your kiddo to clean.

The purpose of the sealant is to give your child’s teeth extra protection from tooth decay, which can lead to cavities or other dental problems. A sealant usually lasts about five years, but someone who has excellent oral hygiene can make their sealants last into their adult lives. While sealants are usually done on children, adults may also choose this dental service.

Why is fluoride important?

Fluoride is a mineral that is found naturally in some foods and water. It works to protect the enamel layer of your teeth and can help prevent tooth decay. Fluoride can help combat bacteria, sugars, and acid in the mouth, keeping teeth strong and healthy.

Fluoride is good for teeth, and many dentists recommend that children use it to protect their oral health. While toothpaste does contain fluoride, many dentists recommend using a mouthwash or rinse that has extra fluoride in it to help strengthen teeth.

There are many options available at your local grocery store or drug store, but if you’re unsure of what to use, your dentist can recommend products or you can look up products that have the American Dental Association seal of approval.

If your dentist thinks your child’s teeth need more attention, they can do a fluoride treatment in their office. Some treatments require a special gel put in a mouthguard that your child wears for three to four minutes, or some dentists offer a varnish that is painted on the teeth.

Also, don’t overdo it on the amount of toothpaste when brushing! Toothpaste contains fluoride, and while that is good for teeth, too much can actually cause stains or pits on teeth. A child under the age of three should only use a rice grain–sized amount. Children (and adults) should be using an amount about the size of a pea.

Keep smiling with Cooley Bentz Dental Associates.

Some children may find the dentist an overwhelming place, but by introducing them to a dentist when they are younger, they will get to know their dentist and their twice yearly visits will be something they look forward to! What are you waiting for? Schedule your child’s appointment today.