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December 8, 2016
Not too many years ago, dental professional bodies like the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists and the Canadian Dental Association recommended the first dental appointment for a child to be completed at about 2-3 years of age. Today, those organizations recommend a much earlier age, typically at 12 months or within 6 months of the first tooth’s eruption. Why the change?
Studies have shown the earlier age introduction to a “dental home” brings numerous benefits for the child, parents and public health. Consider these statistics from the Canadian Institute for Health Information:
1. Children whose first dental visit occurs by the recommended 1 year of age have lower rates of restorative and emergency treatment over childhood compared with children do not visit a dentist until 2–3 years of age.
2. The treatment of early childhood tooth decay accounts for approximately one-third of all hospital day surgeries performed on pre-schoolers up to 4 years old.
3. Toothaches and infections from untreated cavities in primary (baby) teeth can affect a child’s overall health; possible consequences are lost sleep, poor growth, nutritional deficiencies and behavioural problems. Further negative results include the child’s ability to learn, communicate and socialize.
4. Evidence also suggests children with severe early childhood decay are more likely to be anemic and deficient in iron and vitamin D.
Outcomes like these are what led to the recommendation of the First Tooth – First Dental Appointment model which is now widely acknowledged to be in the best interest of the child’s health and development.
Both parent and child benefit from the First Tooth dental appointment. Besides the obvious benefit of early diagnosis and prevention of decay, your dental professional will be able to share important knowledge before the onset of major concerns. It’s the perfect time to provide parents with tips on helping the child with daily teeth cleaning, proper use of toothpaste and good eating habits.
One of the best ways to keep your child’s smile healthy for life is an early start to good oral health habits. There’s no doubt that seeing the child’s dentist at the 12 month stage, or within 6 months of the first tooth erupting is a best practice model that leads to the healthier results your child deserves. Be sure to discuss this important issue with your Santé-Highbury Dental Professional.
See additional resources on this topic at these links:
When should kids go to the dentist? 40 per cent haven’t been by age 4