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When should you first take your child to the dentist?

Happy child with parent

Did you know that dental caries (tooth decay) is the most common chronic disease in children? It is about five times more common than asthma1. In New South Wales, 40% of children aged 5-6 years have evidence of dental decay, and yet the disease is mostly preventable2.

Whilst waiting until your child has a full set of teeth before they visit the dentist might seem sensible, children should have their initial dental check-up by their first birthday.

It’s a misconception that baby (primary) teeth aren’t as important as adult (permanent) teeth. Even though they eventually fall out, they are still extremely important for your child’s developing oral health and overall wellbeing. They play a vital role in the proper alignment and spacing of adult (permanent) teeth, assist in stimulating the development of the facial structure (bones and muscles), assist in the development of speech and pronunciation, and ensure your child can digest food easily and receive adequate nutrition. Tooth decay is the main reason why children lose their baby teeth too early.

Beginning dental appointments when children are young has a number of benefits:

Oral health and Preventative treatment:

A dentist and dental hygienist will assist in keeping your child’s teeth and gums clean and healthy. This includes providing professional cleaning, and education on age-related topics, oral hygiene and diet. It also includes preventative or supplementary treatments if required, such as fissure sealants, dental fillings and fluoride treatments, which can help to prevent more serious dental problems when your child is older.

Smile development:

Your child’s dentist will monitor the development of their primary and secondary teeth as they grow. This can include problems such as tongue ties, cross bites, and crowded or missing teeth. Diagnosing and rectifying any developmental or hereditary problems early is an important aspect of children’s dentistry. Early intervention can result in less invasive procedures when your child is older.

Early education:

Your child’s dentist and dental hygienist will assist you in teaching your child how to take care of their smile. Early education on the importance of looking after their teeth can help children develop good oral hygiene habits for life. Behaviours learnt while children are young can help ensure they have healthy teeth into adulthood and beyond. It can also mean less dental treatment and less dental cost over their lifetime.

Preventing dental anxiety:

Beginning dental visits at a young age provides early exposure to the dental environment, which can help prevent dental phobias later in life.

Your child’s dental treatment could be covered by Medicare

At VC Dental, we bulk bill the Medicare Child Dental Benefits Schedule. Eligible children aged 2-17 years receive up to $1,000 worth of dental treatment over each two calendar-year period. Services include examinations (check-ups), professional cleans, x-rays, fissure sealants and tooth coloured dental fillings.

For more information on our children’s preventative care services, please click here.
For more information on the Medicare Child Dental Benefits Schedule, please click here.


References:

  1. Public Health Reports: Oral Health – The Silent Epidemic (2010)
  2. NSW Health: Early Childhood Oral Health Guidelines for Child Health Professionals, 3rd Edition (2014)