09 Dec 2013

Include A Dental Visit in your Child’s Calendar!

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When you think of the word ‘dentist’, it is unlikely to evoke positive memories, as it is likely that the first time most people attended the dentist, they had a problem. This need not be the case for your child. I am often asked when is the best time to take a child for their first dental visit. My reply is ‘Don’t wait until your child has a dental problem to bring them to the dentist!’

Include a dental visit in your child’s calendar from a young age and you can help prevent dental decay, the most common chronic disease of childhood. Dental decay is in fact, more common than asthma and obesity. It can cause significant pain and suffering as well as loss of space and crowding where teeth are extensively decayed or lost early due to decay. Dental decay is also preventable.

It is recommended by the Irish Dental Association, the European Academy of Paediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry that you should bring the child within the first year of life or as soon as the first tooth comes through. Parents are often surprised at this advice and ask how a small child could be expected to sit in the chair and have their teeth examined. Of course I don’t expect them to sit in the dental chair! But a paediatric dentist is specially trained to examine even very young babies’ mouths and I do examine each child’s teeth.

The main purpose of this visit, however, is to help the parents make healthy choices for their child’s dental health and avoid dental decay and the complications it causes. It also helps children and their parents develop a positive attitude to good dental health for life. Decay is preventable!

Unfortunately, up to half of Irish five year old children already have dental decay. Almost three quarters of Irish fifteen year old children also have dental decay. Too often, parents bringing children for their first dental check up express regret that they did not realise what causes decay. They regret not putting simple preventive measures in place from the beginning. Instead, they may sometimes be faced with having to arrange for their children to have extensive dental care at a young age, including fillings, crowns or extractions.

Include a dental check up in your child’s calendar from early on and help him/her achieve a clean and healthy mouth for life. We can make the dental check up a pleasant experience which your child looks forward to!

Top Tips:

• Brush your child’s teeth for him/her regularly (morning and night every day) using an age-appropriate amount of toothpaste containing at least 1000ppm fluoride from the age of 2 years.

• Spit out very well after brushing but don’t rinse with water or mouthwash afterwards

• Consider using a fluoride mouthwash (at least 200ppm fluoride and alcohol-free) at a separate time to toothbrushing, e.g. after school

• Limit the frequency of snacks (Remember that drinks, except water & milk, are snacks too!)

• Eat fruit, don’t drink it (too often)!

• Be realistic! You don’t need to cut out the treats, but do have any treats as part of a meal, e.g. as dessert

• If your child bumps his/her teeth, have them checked by a dentist as soon as possible

• Have your child’s teeth checked regularly from an early age

Dr. Aifric Ni Chaollai