Making infant and children’s oral health a priority is a key to lifelong health. Children should see a dentist as soon as the first tooth erupts or by 12 months of age and regularly thereafter, just like regular check-ups with their paediatrician or family doctor. Tooth decay can start as soon as baby teeth erupt into the mouth. That is why it is important for parents to adopt healthy dental practices early.
Your dentist can provide you with ways to help prevent your child from developing tooth decay. They can give you tips on how to clean your child’s teeth, when to begin to use fluoridated toothpaste, and discuss good eating habits. One of the best ways to keep your child’s smile healthy for life is to start good oral health habits early, even before the teeth arrive.
The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) recommends a first dental visit within the first year (12 months) as a dental best practice to help prevent cavities. It helps to establish a dental home for the child and encourages the development of a positive relationship with your dentist.
Delaying that first visit can have serious consequences. A Canadian Institute for Health Information report showed that treating early childhood caries (severe decay in the teeth of infants or young children under six years of age) accounts for approximately one-third of all hospital day surgeries performed on pre-schoolers (ages 1-4 years old).
Toothaches and infections resulting from untreated cavities in primary (baby) teeth can affect a child’s health and well-being, sometimes resulting in lost sleep, poor growth and nutrition and behavioural problems. The negative impacts can also extend to a child’s self-esteem and their ability to learn, communicate and socialize.