toddler getting teeth cleaned at dentist

Don’t Skip The Dentist: The Most Vital Ages and Stages in Oral Development

Regular dental cleanings and checkups are essential to the livelihood and future health of your child! Although they remain of high importance throughout the entirety of their childhood, there are particular stages of development that require extra evaluation and intervention. Make sure to take your kid to visit a pediatric dentist around age one, four, and seven to give them the best chances of maintaining good dental health throughout their life with ease!

Age 1: Establish a Foundation

Did you know that more than half of parents believe that a dental visit isn’t fruitful until their child is at least two years old? This common misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. Dentists recommend making an appointment as soon as a baby’s first tooth appears, or around age one. 

At this time, an infant’s gums and jawline have developed enough to begin to determine their dental needs, and it is a good time for parents to learn how to attend to them. This includes: how to manage teething, what they should eat for optimal oral health, and what behaviors they display that are best stopped in their tracks! This will also help a toddler to become familiar with dentistry and feel a sense of ease as they continue their visits throughout childhood and adulthood.

Age 4: Correct Bad Habits

At four years old, a child may have bad habits that need to be broken in order to nourish their dental health as they continue to develop. Not only this, but it is also easiest to break these when they are in this transitional stage from toddler to ‘kid’! If this visit is postponed for too long, bad behaviors may solidify into their normal routine, making it much more difficult to undo the damage and change the child’s ways.

The most common detrimental daily habits at this age are nail-biting and thumb sucking. During a checkup, a pediatric dentist can provide parents and children with strategies that will make halting these harmful patterns a whole lot easier! In addition, this is a great time for a dentist to evaluate if a child is getting enough fluoride. If not, they can provide treatments or recommended products to stave away tooth decay.

Age 7: Evaluate and Plan for the Future

By age seven, a child’s first molars will have appeared, establishing a backbite. This is the ideal time to get an orthodontic referral from your dentist! From there, an evaluation of your kid’s jaw and the relationships between their teeth will allow preemptive planning, so everything can get into alignment as quickly and easily as possible.

At this age, an orthodontist can properly determine the front-to-back and side-to-side relationships of a child’s chompers. Identifying potential problems and addressing them early on will allow corrections to be made in the easiest manner possible. This may even help to avoid future tooth extractions and trauma! Though an orthodontist will most likely not recommend braces until nearly all of your child’s permanent teeth are in place, this will allow the process to go as smoothly as possible once they reach that stage.

“Dentists can help identify and treat oral problems that could hinder a child’s development. Regular dental appointments and good oral hygiene decrease the risk that a child may need more intensive dental work in grade school.”

-Unum Dental Director Jim Di Marino, DDS


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