Early childhood dental care is critical because children’s oral health affects their overall health and ability to perform well in school. In addition, children who receive regular dental checkups have better oral hygiene habits and are more likely to keep their teeth throughout life. Visiting the dentist regularly also helps kids become comfortable and get used to being in a doctor’s office. This can decrease their anxiety about visiting the dentist later in life.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Getting regular dental checkups as soon as your child’s teeth emerge helps prevent tooth decay. Children with tooth decay often experience pain and discomfort that limits their ability to chew food, speak and sleep.
Infants and toddlers are at high risk of developing early childhood tooth decay. This happens when they have acid-producing bacteria in their mouths and sugars that stick to their teeth.
Babies are especially at risk for tooth decay when they put their bottles to bed or walk around with a sippy cup of milk or juice. These drinks keep sugar in their mouths for hours, which makes it easier for bacteria to eat away at the enamel on their teeth.
Developing Good Oral Hygiene Habits
Good oral hygiene habits at a young age are key to developing a healthy smile. These habits will carry over into adulthood and help prevent serious dental problems. Taking children to the dentist early will teach them important oral health care habits from the start. Regular visits to a dental clinic like Albany pediatric dentistry help prevent cavities, tooth decay and gum disease. Kids often mimic what they see and learn from their parents, so it’s essential to be consistent in helping them establish good habits from a young age. They may find brushing their teeth more enjoyable if you do it together and reward good habits.
Identifying Jaw Issues
Early childhood dental care helps identify jaw issues, such as malocclusions or misaligned bites. This is an excellent time to start treatment so that they don’t become bigger problems later on in life, which can lead to expensive orthodontics or jaw surgery. Gaps in the teeth are another common problem for various reasons. They may be caused by genetics, thumb sucking, or long-term bottle or pacifier use.
Children with a gapped smile should receive orthodontic treatment to move their teeth into the proper position to grow straighter and more beautiful. This can improve their smile and make it easier to clean their teeth, preventing cavities and tooth decay. In addition to the regular dental exams and X-rays, your dentist in Albany might also recommend additional tests to help identify jaw issues, such as a CT scan or MRI.
Preventing Thumb Sucking
Thumb sucking is a natural coping mechanism for children that usually occurs when they are anxious or upset. However, thumb-sucking can also damage your child’s teeth and mouth. It is vital to break the habit before permanent teeth come in because prolonged thumb sucking can cause misalignment of your child’s permanent teeth and affect the shape and roof of their mouth. A dentist can help your child stop this habit and prevent future dental problems. They can show you how to create a progress chart and let your child put a sticker on it each day, so they do not thumb suck. You can also try teaching them alternative habits to replace the thumb-sucking habit, such as sucking their thumb with their finger or holding a stuffed animal. This will help them build a stronger foundation for stopping the habit.