According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, children should have their first dental checkup sometime after their first tooth appears and no later than their first birthday. Most children get their first tooth around six months of age, though some children may get their teeth sooner or later.
Yet, a 2009 study conducted by Morpace, Inc. reported that the average age at which American children visit the dentist for the first time is actually 2.6 years old—well over the recommended one year. The parents surveyed gave several reasons why they waited so long, including that their child “doesn’t have enough teeth yet” or that their child was “too young.”
These findings demonstrate that parents often do not understand how important dental care is for the very young. While children do eventually lose their baby teeth and get a new set, there are several reasons why it is essential for parents to make sure to take care of their children’s teeth from a very young age.
- Early dental care helps children form good dental habits: If parents help their children brush from the time their very first teeth come in, brushing will become second nature by the time the children are old enough to brush their teeth by themselves.
- Baby teeth save the places for permanent teeth: If the baby teeth rot, fall out or crowd each other, it can affect the position of the permanent teeth when they come in.
- Baby teeth help with speech development: The front teeth are crucial for making some sounds, including the “s” sound and the “th” sound.
- Baby teeth are essential for eating: Children need their teeth to eat and get the nutrients their bodies need to be healthy. If their teeth hurt or are not very strong, it can affect their eating habits.
Dental care is not just about filling cavities or getting braces. Good dental care helps prevent future problems and helps keep children healthy. If your child is past due for his or her first visit, contact Bolivar Family Dental today at (417) 777-8654.