I am often asked when is the ideal time for a child’s first visit to the dentist. Is it 1 yr, 3 yrs, when there’s a problem, when all the baby teeth are gone? The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends the first visit to occur by one year or within 6 weeks of the first tooth erupting. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends no later than the first birthday for the first dental visit. The purpose of the first visit is to establish a dental home for the child and become familiar with the environment. Even though baby teeth will eventually be lost, dental cavities can still impact your child’s well being causing pain and requiring dental intervention. Baby teeth, also called primary teeth, are just as important as permanent (adult) teeth. Strong, healthy primary teeth can help your child chew and speak. They also hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums (3).
During the 2007-08 school year, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services completed “Make Your Smile Count,” a statewide oral health survey of Wisconsin’s third grade children. More than 4,300 children in third grade received a dental screening. Results were compared to a similar dental survey conducted in 2001- 02 school year; overall, it was found that in 2008, tooth decay continues to be a major problem for Wisconsin’s children.
Seventeen percent of the third grade children screened had a need for early dental care, which means that the child exhibited dental decay without accompanying signs or symptoms. Nearly three percent of screened children needed urgent dental care because of pain or infection. In 2007-08 there were about 59,000 third grade children in Wisconsin. If 3% are in urgent need of dental care, this means that approximately 1,770 third grade children are in the classroom in pain or with an oral infection and that’s only one grade. If this percentage is extrapolated to all kindergarten to sixth grade school children in Wisconsin, about 12,500 children may need urgent dental care because of pain or infection. (1) If you are looking to start your child on the right path for a healthy dental lifestyle please feel free to schedule an appointment with either myself or Dr. Gavin. We look forward to treating patients of all ages, especially children. Our staff will make children’s appointments as fun as possible. At Valley Dental you will experience confidence beyond your expectations.
Dr. Jason Pendleton
This article was written by Valley Dental