It is becoming more and more common to bring forward the visit to the dentist, especially for caries problems, but also to start oral hygiene even before the first tooth appears. During the first visit it is usual for the oral health professional to check the teeth and gums and establish guidelines for proper oral hygiene.
According to the Spanish Society of Pediatric Dentistry (SEOP) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), the first check-up in the pediatric dentistry office should take place when the first temporary tooth erupts or when the baby turns one year old. We usually wait 6 months after the first tooth erupts to have the first check-up and this appointment is important to educate our children with good dental health habits from the time they are young.
In this first visit we look at the children’s teeth and soft tissues and also take the opportunity to educate parents on how to care for their child’s baby teeth. It is also an appointment to establish guidelines on how to take care of the child’s mouth nutritionally and we monitor the bones to make sure the child’s skull and jaw are growing properly.
What examinations are performed?
The first visit to the dentist is used to look at the teeth and soft tissues and also to educate the parents. From the age of 2, dental check-ups are scheduled to check the hard tissues (teeth) to make sure they do not have cavities.
From the age of 3 years and only if necessary, x-rays are taken to check for cavities and this same appointment is used to study the child’s bite and make sure that the bones are growing properly. Oral hygiene instructions are also given to parents and children. It is recommended that up to the age of 6, children should not brush their own teeth, but that their parents should do it. From the age of 6, children become self-sufficient and should start brushing their own teeth with parental supervision.
Using a good brushing technique and the type of toothpaste to use are also other tips we give during check-ups. We take advantage of these first visits to establish a fluoride treatment plan because children need two fluoride treatments annually to reinforce that caries do not appear. To do this, we first clean the teeth before applying fluoride and remove plaque and tartar from the teeth. In children’s mouths cavities are usually the most frequent problem, that is why fluoride treatment is important.
How often should they schedule a visit to the dentist?
Every six months. It is very important that children return to the dentist to apply fluoride and prevent cavities, making sure they brush well at home. It is also important to evaluate the growth of the bones of the skull, maxilla and jaw and check that their bite is stable. If any anomaly is detected, which is quite common, it is the ideal time to act on this anomaly with a simple functional or interceptive orthodontic treatment.
Why is it so important to perform check-ups at an early age? Can we prevent oral health problems in adulthood?
It is very important to perform these checkups at an early age so that children are not afraid to go to the dentist and so that it becomes a normal habit and assume a good hygiene routine at home.
Malocclusion can be prevented in adulthood because by checking every 6 months and treating the child from an early age it is possible to prevent the patient from having a bad bite.