Regular dental visits
Your child should have their first dental visit when their first tooth emerges, or when they turn one – whichever happens first. Check-ups for chalky back teeth (chalky molars) at 2 years, 6 years and 12 years are a great idea too. The Australian and New Zealand Society of Paediatric Dentistry introduces the concept of a “dental home” for your child. An early start to dental visits creates the opportunity to focus on preventive care, appropriate feeding and hygiene routines at home, and familiarises your child with the dental environment. The aim of preventive dentistry is to help children become confident and comfortable at the dentist, and to have the right foundations for good oral health into adulthood.
A visit to the dentist should be another regular activity for your child, and should not be conveyed as a “high point” of the day. Focusing on the upcoming dental appointment can create anxiety and stress. If your child is old enough, simply inform them on the day of the appointment that they will be having a dental check up. Avoid using words that can fuel their imagination, like hurt, drill or needle – experienced dentists are able to discuss these topics with children in a fun, non-threatening way to ensure they have a positive experience.
A fissure sealant is a protective coating on a tooth to help prevent development of decay. The sealant is often applied to the chewing surface of a back tooth, and fills up the deep grooves and crevices. This helps to prevent bacteria and food from becoming lodged in the tooth, and therefore reduces the risk of decay. It is a simple procedure that many children can tolerate well.
Radiographs are an important and necessary part of preventive dentistry. They are used to detect dental decay in between teeth, check for injury following trauma, assess developing teeth, plan orthodontic treatment, and can also detect disease in bone. Early detection of any issues can help to minimise the complexity of dental treatment your child will need.
Care is taken to minimise the amount of exposure your child has to radiation. The amount of radiation for dental radiographs is extremely low, and has been further reduced as a result of technological advances in digital radiography.
When your child starts to participate in team sports, dental injuries can occur easily. A custom made mouthguard is a simple way to protect your child’s teeth, lips and tongue during sporting activities. It should feel comfortable, stay in place, and should not affect breathing. Poor fitting mouthguards can actually cause more problems, and may not be as protective if it does not follow the position of the teeth accurately.