Why are dental checkups for kids important? Because as soon as your kid has teeth, they can get cavities. That’s why regular checkups in early childhood—in addition to good dental hygiene habits taught at home—help ensure that your kids will stay healthy throughout their lives.
Early checkups prevent tooth decay and dental pain, which can lead to trouble concentrating and medical issues later in life. Research suggests that kids with healthy teeth are happier overall, perform better in school and have higher self-esteem.
When should your child first visit the dentist?
The American Dental Association recommends that parents bring their child to the dentist by their first birthday, or as soon as the first tooth appears. This visit will reinforce the dental habits you’re teaching them at home and help your kid be more confident for future dental visits. At your child’s first visit, the dentist will make sure their teeth and jaw are developing the way they should, as well as look for cavities, mouth injuries or other issues.
Parents can help kids prepare for their first visit by explaining what will happen and staying positive. Have your child practice opening their mouth for when the dentist checks their teeth. If you’re a first-time patient, you can print out new patient forms to fill out before your visit.
What are the benefits of early dental visits?
Lots of parents wait too long to schedule a dental visit for young children, which can have negative consequences on a child’s dental and overall health. Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children in the United States despite being mostly preventable with good habits and regular checkups. The CDC reports that 19.5% of children ages 2-5 have untreated cavities.
It’s also very important to keep “baby teeth,” or primary teeth, in place until they are lost naturally. Children with healthy primary teeth generally have an easier time with speech development, chewing food and retaining nutrients. If the pediatric dentist finds that your child has a cavity, sealants and fluoride applications can protect teeth from additional decay.