Many new parents wonder when to start taking their children to the dentist. Is it at one year old or two? You might be surprised to learn that tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in the United States. Tooth decay can cause localized infections, sometimes causing serious illness or even death, and it increases the risk for systemic illnesses, like diabetes, to develop later in life. The good news is – tooth decay is largely preventable.
A recent change in fluoride recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) gives parents a reason to begin scheduling professional dental visits as soon as an infant’s teeth come in. The updated recommendations call for fluoride varnish to be applied to a child’s teeth every three to six months, beginning at six months old.
Fluoride is a natural mineral and is found in the earth and in some food and drinking water. Fluoride helps prevent cavities in infants by hardening the enamel even before the teeth emerge. It also promotes enamel remineralization, reduces demineralization and inhibits damaging bacteria and acid production.
Cavity prevention should begin as soon as a child has teeth. Among the AAP’s other recommendations:
- Fluoridated toothpaste is recommended for all children starting at tooth eruption.
- A smear (the size of a grain of rice) of toothpaste should be used up to age 3. After the 3rd birthday, a pea-sized amount may be used.
- Parents should dispense toothpaste for young children and supervise and assist with brushing.
- Over-the counter fluoride rinse is not recommended for children younger than 6 years due to risk of swallowing higher-than-recommended levels of fluoride.
Too much fluoride is not a good thing in young children, and can cause a condition called fluorosis, which permanently damages developing teeth and bones. We recommend that fluoride treatment be administered by a dental professional.
At High Peaks, we offer $50 off a child’s first visit and a complimentary electric toothbrush. When your baby cuts his or her first teeth, celebrate with a dental appointment and get your child on the road to a healthy smile.
Plattsburgh NY 12901