According to the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a child’s first dental visit should be scheduled within six months of the first tooth’s arrival or by a year of age, whichever is first. Without proper education regarding different factors which can promote tooth decay, very young children can establish dental disease early in life, requiring extensive dental treatment at a very young age. Educating parents and caregivers through anticipatory guidance on factors such as diet, oral hygiene, fluoride, trauma prevention, and non-nutritive habits is pivotal in the success of a child developing a healthy smile.
Some examples of areas that are typically covered include:
- Sugary beverages (juice, soda, sweet tea, energy drinks)
- Bottle feedings / nursing / Infant formula
- Healthy snack choices
- Use of sippy cups
- When to start brushing and flossing
- How long to brush
- How many times a day
- Techniques to aid in brushing with a difficult child
- When it’s ok for your child to brush on their own
- When to use a fluoridated toothpaste?
- How much toothpaste is needed?
- Other sources of fluoride (city water, items in diet)
- Supplemental fluoride coverage, if needed
- Benefits of fluoride for the teeth
- Safeguarding your home
- What to do if a dental injury occurs to your child?
- Dental effects of pacifiers and thumb sucking
- Recommendations on eliminating habits
- Acceptable habits vs. non-acceptable habits
- Proper age that your child stop habits
It is always important to set a good example for your children. They are great at following your lead, so you should brush and floss regularly while they are watching. Initially, they don’t have the motor skills to allow them to brush on their own, therefore, it is the parents responsibility to make sure their child’s teeth are being cleaned effectively. Around age 2 to 3 years old, children begin to develop more gross and fine motor skills, allowing them the opportunity to start brushing on their own. Parents should still go back at this age to make sure the job is done however. Typically, once a child is able to tie a pair of shoes (6 to 7 years old), they have the fine motor skills needed for them to brush on their own. Whatever it takes, try to make brushing and flossing a fun activity for children, so they enjoy doing it and don’t have a negative outlook on it.
Other topics of anticipatory guidance that are covered as a child increases in age include:
- Malocclusion and orthodontic needs
- Substance abuse and tobacco counseling
- Wisdom tooth removal
- Positive Youth Development
At Williamson Pediatric Dentistry, we take pride in educating our patient’s thoroughly in an effort to prevent dental problems from occurring. If you have any questions about any of the topics discussed above, please do not hesitate to contact us today at (615) 614-2424 to schedule a consultation or new patient visit to see how we can help your child.