Looking after your children’s teeth – and teaching them how to look their dental health later on in life – is an important part of parenting.
All of us parents and carers should appreciate that a child’s dental development in the early years is rapid – and regular appointments at the dental clinic are essential as soon as baby’s first teeth come through or, at the latest, from the age of one.
The experts at the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry say: ‘Depending on the needs of the child, the dental team may recommend the child should be seen every 3, 6, 9 or 12 months until their 18th birthday.
The time between appointments should never be more than 12 months.
This is because:
1) In children, there is evidence that decay can progress more quickly in baby teeth because the enamel is thinner
2) There are important jobs to do at your child’s dental appointment, including checking that the teeth are coming through at the right time and in the right place
3) The dental team can use the opportunity to pass on top tips and how to care for the child’s teeth at each stage of their life
4) Regular visits allow your child to get used to going to the dentist. This acclimatises them to the surgery and allows them to start building a relationship with the dental team
5) If you have any concerns, you can ask for a referral to a specialist paediatric dentist.
They suggest that, ideally, the decision on how long to leave between visits should be made after a discussion between the patient, parent and dentist.
They say: ‘In practice, it is usually the dentist as the “expert” caregiver who makes a recommendation but patients and their parents should understand the decision and be able to discuss any concerns.
The Society has also published a guide for parents to help them care for their children’s teeth.
Covering all aspects of oral healthcare for children from birth to 16, the guide is designed to correct some of the damaging myths about teeth and help parents get their child’s dental health off to the best possible start.