A delayed first visit to the dentist can result in baby teeth cavities, decay and painful follow-ups that taint a child's view of the dentist for life. 7News went along with four-year-old Reece Aaron for her cleaning to see what is done and some healthy oral tips for kids.
At Dr. Eric Sanders' pediatric dentist office in Lake Charles, speed and comfort are the secrets to success. This is Reece's third dental appointment, and the dental jitters are not completely gone yet. "We had gone for just a little check-up and saw that she had a cavity," said mom, Brittany, "and so that's when we came, so that we could get it taken care of, before it really turned into something serious."
Neglect can turn something easily treatable into a painful fix and that can start as early as infancy. "Children that stay on a bottle for more than a year, especially if they have teeth early, they're way more susceptible to getting cavities," said Dr. Sanders.
"Baby bottle decay" is something that can have a permanent effect on a young child's smile. "Going untreated, these teeth could possibly abscess and cause damage to the permanent teeth that are still developing," said Dr. Sanders.
That is why oral care should start with the gums, before a tooth even breaks through - using a warm, wet washcloth. "Wet it down with some warm water," said Dr. Sanders, "and just wipe it on the gums, get the milk off or anything that you're feeding."
The first dental exam needs to happen about six months after the first tooth erupts and every six months after that. Just as your little one grows, so do the teeth and it is important for a dentist to keep track of the entire mouth.
While Reece is not overly excited about the visit, even with Mulan playing above her chair, there were no tears shed and mom says it is getting easier to teach the importance of good, healthy teeth routines. "Now it's definitely an every night, every morning toothbrush, toothpaste. She knows tops, bottoms, fronts, backs," said Brittany.
It is also great to establish a relationship with a pediatric dentist to talk about issues like teething, sucking and injuries.