Are you taking as good care of your children’s teeth as you should be? The answer might surprise you. There are a number of assumptions made about kids and dental care that can do more harm than good in the long run. For example, although skipping dental appointments can seem like no big deal when your child is young, doing so can create a pattern of missed appointments that continues throughout his or her life. Getting your child off to a good start when it comes to his or her oral health will help your child enjoy healthy teeth and gums for many years to come. Let’s take a look at some of the most common myths about kids and dental care.
A Child Doesn’t Need to See the Dentist Until . . .
There are a few myths swirling around out there regarding the right age to see a dentist. Some would argue that a child doesn’t need to see a dentist until he or she is old enough to brush on his or her own. Others argue that a child should see a dentist around the time he or she starts losing the first teeth.
In reality, the sooner a child sees a dentist, the better. Although the American Dental Association recommends scheduling your child’s first dental visit by his or her first birthday, scheduling it for around the time that he or she gets the first tooth is even better. During that first visit, the dentist can give you the full details on the best ways to care for a child’s teeth and pointers on brushing.
Seeing a dentist from a very young age means that any potential issues are detected and treated before they become big problems. Additionally, bringing your child to the dentist twice a year from the time he or she is very young lets him or her get used to the idea of going and can help prevent or avoid any fear of the dentist.
It’s Fine if Kids Get Cavities in Baby Teeth
Kids lose their baby teeth, so there’s often an assumption that they don’t have to take care of the ones they have or that if they get cavities in the baby teeth, it’s no big deal. Although those teeth will fall out eventually, and will be replaced by permanent teeth, treating any decay or cavities is still important.
For one thing, you don’t want your child to lose a tooth due to decay before it’s scheduled to fall out on its own. Early tooth loss can negatively affect the way the rest of the teeth come in. It can mean that there’s not enough space in the mouth for the permanent tooth when it is finally time for it to erupt.
Leaving decayed teeth untreated can affect the overall health of your child’s mouth, too. If one cavity isn’t treated, it’s possible for the bacteria that’s causing the decay to spread to another tooth, leading to decay and cavities in that tooth, too.
If Your Child Doesn’t Eat Candy, You Don’t have to Worry About Cavities
The sugar in candy and other sweets is a leading cause of tooth decay and cavities. But, it’s not just sugar in candy or soda that can lead to cavities. Simple starches and carbs can also play a part when it comes to tooth decay. Don’t assume that because you limit the candy and sweets, your child is safe from cavities.
Instead, help him or her get in the habit of brushing after meals, using a fluoride toothpaste. To protect the enamel on your child’s teeth, encourage him or her to rinse with water and to wait about 30 minutes after meals before brushing.
Kids Don’t Get Gum Disease
Although gum disease is more common in adults, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect children. Teenagers in particular have an increased risk for gum disease, due in part to the fluctuating levels of hormones in their system. Keeping an eye out for gum disease is as important when your child is young as it is in an adult.
There are several things you can do to minimize your child’s risk for developing gum disease. Establishing a good oral care routine, that includes daily flossing and brushing, from a young age, is essential. So is bringing your child in to see the dentist on a regular basis.
Every Teen Needs to Have Their Wisdom Teeth Removed
For some teenagers, wisdom teeth removal can be a rite of passage. It’s commonly assumed that everyone needs to have their third molars removed at some point and that the earlier they are removed the better. While your teen definitely should have his or her wisdom teeth removed if the teeth are going to be impacted or if there isn’t enough space in the jaw for them, not everyone needs to have the teeth taken out. For one thing, not everyone ends up developing wisdom teeth. Some people might have just one or two wisdom teeth, or none at all.
For another thing, there are cases when a person has plenty of space in the jaw for the wisdom teeth and doesn’t have to worry about removing them. Your teen’s dentist can make the call about whether or not the teeth should come out, or if they are even there to begin with, which is why it’s important for a teen to keep up the habit of seeing a dentist at least twice a year.
Dr. John Paul Gallardo, Dr. William Lamas and Dr. Juan Arroyo, at the Miami practice of Gallardo & Lamas, can help keep your child’s mouth in the best of health. Whether you are concerned about gum disease or are considering oral surgery for your teen, call (305) 447-1447 to schedule a consultation today.