Children's Dental Health Care Begins Early
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) is an organization representing the specialty of pediatric dentistry. The group advocates policies, guidelines, and programs that promote optimal oral health care for children beginning in infancy. For National Children’s Dental Health Month, the organization reminds parents that dental health starts early, even before children reach one year of age.
More than 40 percent of children have tooth decay by the time they reach kindergarten. And studies show that early tooth decay often leads to more problems with permanent adult teeth. “If a child experiences tooth decay at an early age, it is a very difficult process to stop,” says Paul Casamassimo DDS MS, the chief of Dentistry at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
Dr. Casamassimo supports the revised guidelines of the AAPD that recommend that children have their initial dental visit between 6 and 12 months of age. “Taking a proactive approach to infant oral care can make a difference that will last a lifetime,” he says.
The first dental visit of a child’s life establishes the relationship between the family and dental team. At this appointment, parents can expect to meet with both the dental hygienist and the dentist. They will examine the oral structure of the toddler’s mouth while also introducing him or her to the feeling of a toothbrush. Afterward, parents will learn about dental and oral development, fluoride adequacy, teething, non-nutritive habits, injury prevention, dietary information and oral hygiene instructions.