The branch of dentistry that deals with the child’s teeth from birth through to adolescence is referred to as Pediatric Dentistry. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that an infant should be taken to the dentist within six months by the child’s first birthday or after sprouting of their first tooth.
Children with healthy teeth chew food easily, learn to speak clearly and smile with confidence. On an average, the teeth of toddlers start to show by 6 to 12 months of age. By the age of 3 years, children usually have all of their baby teeth. First Dental appointment baby’s mouth is colonized by acid-producing (or cavity-causing) bacteria even before the first tooth erupts into the mouth. This can happen via the sharing utensils, toys and even kissing the baby. It is thus paramount that dental care and visits to the dentist be initiated as early as possible.
Dental care at home
Before the child has any teeth, it is advised to keep their gums healthy and free of bacteria. Making use of a soft cloth to clean baby’s gums twice a day, ideally during early morning and at night. When the baby has teeth, brush with the baby toothbrush by making use of low fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice, especially after the last meal or food of the day.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 42% of children aged 2 to 11 and 21% of those aged 6 to 11 have had cavities in baby teeth and permanent teeth respectively. When a baby’s mouth is infected by acid-producing bacteria which is generally spread by the sharing of saliva on cups or spoons, testing foods by parents or caregivers before feeding to a baby can result in tooth decay.
Cavities in young babies can occur by the transfer of cavity-causing bacteria both from the parents and even siblings. However, cavities are preventable if cared for correctly. It is equally vital for the mother to have good dental hygiene. The use of fluorides strengthens the enamel (the protective layer) of the teeth, which ultimately prevents the risk of tooth decay and cavities.
Remember: With the proper and right care, a child can have healthy teeth and good oral health for a lifetime of a bright smile.