On July 3rd, 1806, two years into their journey to chart the unchartered west of America, pioneer explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark reached a challenge of epic proportion – the Rocky Mountains. What next, they wondered? Without a map, they were forced to do what explorers do – explore, and hope for the best. So, that got us thinking. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a handy map you could use to chart your own dental health? With that in mind, and in honor of our “Dog Days of Summer” explorers, here are a few mile markers you can use to stay on top of your child’s health today, next year, and for years to come!
6 to 24 months
When you’re a new parent, life is a whirlwind, and the dental care of your newborn may not be top of mind when you look in their mouths and see no teeth! But! There are some things you need to know:
Schedule a visit: As soon as that first tooth comes in, you’ll want to schedule a visit and set up a periodic exam schedule. Also, be aware that the ADA recommends fluoridated toothpaste now for all children under the age of 3.
Ask your dentist about:
Home hygiene basics: Tips and tricks on brushing and other care
Preventative dentistry: The possible need for fluoride supplements
Dietary strategies: Achieving a balanced diet early in life for good oral health later
Feeding practice awareness: Bottle, breast-feeding, and no-spill training cups
Non-nutritive oral habits: Thumb sucking, pacifiers
2 to 12 years old
Ah, the little ones are growing up. Teeth are coming in at all sorts of crazy angles, and you’re going crazy from the rise in obligations. Here’s a quick list of what to consider during this timeframe:
Preventative dentistry: Pit and fissure sealants can do wonders for keeping your child’s dental bills down, and their teeth in their head until they’re ready to fall out naturally. Ask about them. They’re affordable AND useful.
Orthodontic Consultation: Visiting an orthodontist for an early consultation is best done around your child’s seventh birthday. With today’s technology, early intervention can reduce the cost and duration of braces when your child gets older.
The Teen Years
The years “everything” happens! As children start to come into their own, new habits and desires begin to unfold as well. You’ll have to address every imaginable concern during these years, from piercings, to calls for whitening, braces, and the need to refer yourself away from your pediatric dentist and to a general dentist for continuing oral care. So, speak with your dentist about:
Cosmetic Dentistry: What solutions are advisable now, and what things should be avoided.
Teen social pressures: Smoking, alcohol, intraoral/perioral piercings and the like
Orthodontics: Options for minimizing appearance and health problems later in life
Home hygiene tips: Brushing, flossing, choosing the right mouthwash
Craniofacial injury prevention: With your children’s possible participation in sports, you’ll want to get them a mouthguard. Hands down it’ll be one of your best investments in a healthy mouth. And skull!
Staying on top of your child’s oral health isn’t as hard as you think, and if you keep this schedule handy, you’ll be ahead of most of your neighbor's kids when it comes to a healthy mouth and body. Come to think of it … why not share it with them as well? They’ll thank you for the help!