Protecting Your Young Child’s Smile: 8 Key Questions To Consider
As an orthodontist, I get asked a lot of questions every day. Some questions my younger patients ask me verge on the silly side, i.e. “What did you have for lunch?” (A turkey sandwich, if anyone was wondering.) However, the questions I get from parents are usually of a more serious nature, like, “When should my child see an orthodontist for the first time?” So, in an attempt to help, I’ve put together a list of answers to important orthodontic questions every parent of a young child should know the answer to just for you – answers that will help you make the best decisions for your child and their smile that lasts a lifetime!
1) What age should you take your child to see a dentist for the first time?
It’s recommended for parents to take their child to a dentist for the first time before their child is one. This helps establish a relationship with the dentist and familiarize them with the process of consistent oral care, so that 1) your child isn’t afraid of visiting the dentist throughout their life, and 2) it lets you keep track of how your child’s teeth are coming in, letting you know if early intervention is needed.
2) When is a good age to start introducing your child to brushing and flossing?
A good rule of thumb is that you should be wiping down your child’s gums after they eat when they are teething. This will help them get used to something other than a bottle or pacifier in their mouth. The moment that adorable first tooth arrives, start by gently brushing it with a toothbrush. Yes, it may seem a little early, but by doing this right away you’ll be establishing healthy oral habits from the get-go.
3) At what age should your child start brushing with fluoride toothpaste?
Okay, the next thing you may ask is, “What about toothpaste?” For little ones under two, it’s widely recommended that children use toothpaste without fluoride, because if it is swallowed it can cause an upset stomach. However, it is important to note that fluoride toothpaste is the best choice for children ages 2 and up, as toothpaste with fluoride helps prevent tooth decay and can even repair cavities in their early stages. So, to be on the safe side, I recommend that you talk to your pediatric dentist and get their advice before you start using toothpaste with fluoride.
4) Why should you get your child’s teeth sealed?
Sealant is a great thing to get for your children. So, what does it do? It drastically reduces the occurrence of cavities and tooth decay by protecting your child’s most prone teeth – their six-year-old and twelve-year-old permanent molars. Does it hurt? Absolutely not. Your dentist or orthodontist can apply sealant in one office visit. Basically, they apply the sealant to your child’s most prone teeth, and then shine a curing light on the teeth to set the sealant. After that, they’re good to go.
5) Are mouthguards really necessary?
Whether your child is playing baseball, soccer, wrestling or football, they need a mouthguard. Why? Accidents happen. By getting your child a properly fitting mouthguard, you can protect their teeth in case they are hit with a force so strong it could fracture their jaw or leave them with a concussion. To sum it up, it’s much better to be safe than sorry when it comes to mouthguards.
6) How often should your child see a dentist?
A good rule of thumb is to take your child to see the dentist every six months. This not only allows them to take images and see how your child’s teeth are growing in, but it also helps to remind your child to take great care of their teeth and gives them the resources to do so.
7) At what age should your child see an orthodontist?
When your child turns seven, it is time to make their first orthodontist appointment. Believe it or not, a child doesn’t even have to have all their adult teeth to benefit from seeing an orthodontist. By seeing an orthodontist while their mouth is still growing, the doctor can more easily intercept a potential problem and create invaluable savings in cost and treatment time as a result.
8) What kinds of important issues does an orthodontist help with?
An orthodontist plays a vital role in the proper development of your child’s mouth, bite, and smile. Below are just a few of the important things your orthodontist will do to ensure your child’s best smile:
- Guiding tooth eruption
- Correcting harmful habits
- Identifying missing teeth or extra teeth
- Correcting jaw growth problems and sleep disorders
- Making room for crowded teeth
- Boosting self-esteem
- Preventing trauma or damage to teeth and gums
If you have more questions, just reach out- I’m happy to answer them all! And remember, kids don’t come with instruction books. You just have to ask the right questions of the right people, and let information and education guide you on what’s best for your child and your family!