Q: My wife makes sure to schedule every well check, but insists there is no reason to bring children to the dentist until they get permanent teeth, if at all. She contends that since baby teeth are lost so soon, cavities barely have a chance to form and there is no need to brush, floss, and avoid sugary beverages. Is this true?
A: On the contrary, dentists are irreplaceable when it comes to dental health. Yes, we all know about the brushing and flossing thing. But dentists do so much more than that!
Dentists are trained to:
- care for your teeth and gums
- examine the muscles of the head, neck and jaw monitor the tongue and salivary glands
- screen for and recognize cancers that affect the mouth
- examine and diagnose the nervous system of the head and neck area
That’s a whole lot more than just the usual brushing and flossing lecture!
Dental health affects other parts of the body
Infections of the mouth or teeth can lead to a stressed immune system. In some cases, infections from the mouth and teeth have been known to spread, affecting other areas of the body, including the brain.
Definitive links have been found between oral health and such chronic conditions as diabetes and heart disease.
Dental visits are particularly important to pregnant women and children. Statistics show that women with periodontal disease give birth to babies with lower birth weights.
Caring for your child’s teeth
Babies are susceptible to tooth decay due to prolonged exposure to liquids. Dental health is so important that experts recommend that the first dental visit take place no later than a baby’s first birthday.
In fact, cavities have been identified as the most prevalent chronic disease of childhood.
As children age, teeth become a source of self-esteem. Do all you can for your child by establishing good dental health habits early!
So what should parents do?
- First, realize that home care is just as important as regular dental visits.
- Begin dental care as early as possible, using a washcloth to clean babies’ teeth.
- Make that first dental appointment before age one.
- Follow your dentist’s advice for toothpastes, fluoride supplements, brushing, and flossing.
- Feeding your child foods such as milk, cheese, and vegetables will help strengthen teeth.
- Limiting sugary foods will help reduce the incidence of cavities.