When we’re talking about our kids’ first dental visit…One baby tooth, plus one pediatric dental visit, equals ZERO cavities!
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and the message from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry is, “Get it Done in Year One.” Both the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Dental Associated (ADA) recommend your child’s first visit to the dentist should be during their first year of life.
“First Visit by First Birthday” is another way the AAPD tried to make it easy to remember.
Although we all want to do what is best for our kids, it is important to remember that even if they don’t have any teeth yet, proper care and dental health begins in that first year – normally the first tooth starts to appear around 6-12 months of age. That should be the cue to schedule their first dental appointment.
According to a recent study by the AADP, survey results found that a staggering number of moms are misinformed about the importance of infant dental visits and proper at-home care. The survey went on to report that an overwhelming 97 percent of respondents didn’t know their children needed to visit a pediatric dentist in the first year of life. Take it from the AAPD, tooth decay can begin as early as the teeth begin to emerge, typically at six months, and often progresses rapidly. Left untreated, it can destroy tiny teeth and lead to needless pain and suffering, infection, loss of function, increased health care costs and lifelong health consequences.
And here’s more valuable insight from AAPD President, Dr. William C. Berlocher; taking our children to the dentist during that first year will actually save parents money!
“We were astounded that only one-third (33 percent) of moms considered oral health a concern for their infants,” said Dr. Berlocher. “Parents will be surprised to know that taking children to visit a pediatric dentist by their first birthday actually saves money. Studies show that dental costs for children who have their first dental visit before age one are 40 percent lower in the first five years than for those who do not see a dentist prior to their first birthday.”
The AAPD recommends the following “Get it Done in Year One” Checklist to keep infant mouths healthy and prevent infection:
Clean infants’ mouths and gums regularly with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. Once baby teeth appear, brush them at least twice daily with an age-appropriate sized toothbrush and a “smear” of fluoridated toothpaste.
- Give children older than six months fluoride supplements if their drinking water does not contain enough fluoride. (Fluoride supplementation in infants has been shown to reduce tooth decay by as much as 50 percent.)
- Wean infants from the bottle by 12-14 months of age. Have infants drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday.
- Visit the pediatric dentist before children’s first birthday and twice annually following the first appointment.
- Avoid at-will breast-feeding after the first baby tooth appears and other foods are introduced.
Please share this information with friends and family, and if you want to see more FAQs on infant dental care, click here to visit the AAPD website. And click here for some free downloadable oral health information for parents and teachers to provide fun tools to promote the benefits of good oral health to children. Then be sure to tell your dentist what you learned next time you’re in for a check-up!!