Dental Visits: Why They’re Important in Early Childhood
One of the major milestones parents highly anticipate and get excited about early on is their baby’s first tooth. As soon as that first pearly white starts to poke through, parents can’t seem to stop doting on and taking pictures of the development and their baby. While joy and excitement are normal reactions, equally important are care and concern for the baby’s teeth. In other words, parents should start thinking about how to look after their baby’s oral health.
The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics advise parents to start dental visits for their baby as soon as he/she turns a year old, or when the first tooth appears; which can occur anywhere from 3 to 6 months of age. By then, one or two primary teeth would have appeared already. Afterwards, parents are recommended to bring their child to the dentist again every 6 months, to ensure all is well with their oral health. Why are dental visits so important in early childhood?
First, primary teeth play an important role in early childhood development. Aside from enabling children to chew their food properly for maintaining proper nutrition, it also plays a role in their speech development. Primary teeth must be properly positioned to facilitate correct syllable pronunciation among young children. When the teeth aren’t properly positioned or there is premature tooth loss due to poor oral hygiene habits, they may develop speech problems, in which case they will need the help of a speech pathologist.
Second, primary teeth are placeholders for permanent teeth. They hold the appropriate amount of space needed when permanent teeth are growing. As mentioned, poor oral hygiene habits can lead to premature tooth loss. For permanent teeth, this may translate to overbite and underbite problems or crooked, misaligned teeth later on. And as children grow older, becoming more self-conscious once they reach their teenage years, the poor appearance of their teeth can adversely affect their self-confidence. They may find social interactions difficult; feeling embarrassed over how their teeth appear.
In the end, parents shouldn’t neglect their child’s primary teeth. As outlined above, primary teeth carry out important functions and can impact children’s oral health in their teenage and adult years. By visiting the dentist regularly early on, parents will be able to get rid of their child’s jitters over the dental visit as well. As they grow and become more familiar with their dentist at the same time, they can pick-up and develop healthy oral hygiene habits.