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Pediatric Dentists Can Help Start Healthy Habits



Teach your child lifelong healthy habits


(Pediatric dentist, Dr. Dayna Olstein, makes visiting the dentist fun.)


Choosing a pediatric dentist should be on your list right after your bring baby home...or at least when they get their first baby teeth. 

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, getting an early start in regular dental care will teach your child healthy lifetime habits.

In her book, For the Love of Children, Anna Wahlgren suggests this winning tip: “If you give your child a toothbrush with a hint of toothpaste on it to play with in the bath tub when he’s one, there are seldom any problems with tooth brushing later on.” And another is to introduce your child to a pediatric dentist.

Preventing tooth decay

Pediatric dentists share ways to make teeth strong, keep bacteria from organizing into harmful colonies, develop healthy eating habits, and understand the role that time plays. Remember dental decay is an infection of the tooth. Visiting one early on can help avoid unnecessary cavities and dental treatment. Studies show that children with poor oral health have decreased school performance, poor social relationships and less success later in life. Children experiencing pain from decayed teeth are distracted and unable to concentrate on schoolwork.

READ MORE: Having trouble choosing a pediatric dentist?


Importance of primary teeth (baby teeth)

It is very important that primary teeth are kept in place until they are lost naturally. These teeth serve a number of critical functions.

Primary teeth:

  • Maintain good nutrition by permitting your child to chew properly.
  • Are involved in speech development.
  • Help the permanent teeth by saving space for them. A healthy smile can help children feel good about the way they look to others.

READ MORE: 5 questions you should be asking your dentist

Infants and children

The first dental visit should occur shortly after the first tooth erupts and no later than the child’s first birthday. Beginning tooth and mouth examinations early may lead to detection of early stages of tooth decay that can be easily treated. At the first visit, they’ll discuss:

  • A program of preventive home care including brushing, flossing, diet and the importance of fluorides.
  • A caries risk (or bottle rot) assessment.
  • Information about Early Childhood Caries, which may be due to inappropriate nursing habits or inappropriate use of sippy cups.
  • The latest facts about finger, thumb and pacifier habits.
  • What you need to know about preventing injuries to the mouth and teeth.

Pediatric dentistry is a specialty of dentistry that focuses on the oral health of young people. After completing a four-year dental school curriculum, two to three additional years of rigorous training are required to become a pediatric dentist. This specialized program of study and hands-on experience prepares pediatric dentists to meet the needs of infants, children and adolescents.

© American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, aapd.org, and re-printed with their permission.