Children Should See Dentist Before Age One Year

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Pediatric dentists urge parents to “Get it Done in Year One” and take their children to see a dentist before that first tooth appears. This simple step can help children avoid a lifetime of dental problems and avoid tooth decay, the single most common chronic childhood disease.

“Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General” reported that tooth decay or cavities is the most chronic childhood problem, five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named tooth decay the most chronic disease among children aged five to 17. Dental problems do not appear overnight: they begin in infancy, and that’s why parents need to address dental care early.

As National Children’s Dental Health month draws to a close, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) urges parents and caregivers to “Get it Done in Year One” and take their children to the dentist by the time the first baby tooth appears. Why is this so important?

Because more than 40 percent of children in the United States have tooth decay before the age of five. Because studies show that dental costs for children who visit a dentist before age one are 40 percent lower in the first five years than for children who do not make that first dental visit before their first birthday.

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A baby’s first tooth typically appears between the ages of 6 and 12 months, and from that moment, all baby teeth are very susceptible to tooth decay. Some infants are born with neonatal teeth (teeth that appear in the first month), and these require dental care. Even though baby teeth will eventually be replaced with permanent teeth, it is critical to maintain healthy baby teeth because they are important for proper speech development and nutrition.

In addition to taking their children to a pediatric dentist before their first birthday, parents can also provide some dental care at home. The AAPD advises parents and caregivers to clean infant mouths and gums regularly with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. Once baby teeth appear, they should be brushed at least twice daily with an infant toothbrush using a “smear” of fluoridated toothpaste.

Teething usually begins around age 6 months and can continue for up to about 24 months. Parents can help relieve the discomfort associated with teething by massaging their child’s gums, offering the child a chilled teething ring or cold, wet washcloth, and asking the dentist for a teething ointment.

A visit to a pediatric dentist before a child reaches age one year is recommended to help prevent tooth decay and other dental problems. Parents who are looking for a pediatric dentist in their area can visit the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry website for help.

SOURCES:
American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
“Oral Health in America”

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