Why Generation Z Might Go On to Have the Healthiest Teeth to Date
Dental professionals are looking out for “Generation Z” kids. They’re urging parents to take infants to the dentist and warning of the outcomes of postponing their first visit.
Until recently, a first dental visit traditionally took place at age three or four. That’s because there was little concern over baby teeth that would eventually fall out. However, it’s not uncommon for kids to develop cavities as young as five or six.
Therefore, dentists around the world are now recommending that toddlers visit the dentist when they are only six months to one year old.
Why Generation Z Should Start Seeing the Dentist Early
South Carolina pediatric dentist Dr. Thom Atkins told the Aiken Standard that the earlier a child visits the dentist, the better his or her oral health will be as they age.
Learn more: 5 Positive Oral Health Benefits
“We like to see children earlier than most people anticipate,” he said. “We prefer to see them within six months of the first tooth coming in or by the age of 1, whichever comes first.”
Early dental visits can identify problems before they evolve. In addition, this allows kids to learn to feel comfortable in a dentist’s office.
Kids can become frightened of the dentist if their first visit involves treating cavities or rotting teeth. Professor Nigel Hunt, dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at England’s Royal College of Surgeons, says that’s only natural.
“If a first dental visit results in a stressful, traumatic experience, this could have a serious life-long effect on a child’s willingness to engage in the dental process,” he told the Telegraph.
Learn more: Dental Anxiety and Kids: Parents, Caregivers, Dentists All Play a Role
Parents Can Hold Infants
Parents hold their children while the dentist performs an examination and applies fluoride. This, surprisingly, doesn’t cause discomfort in most young patients.
According to the Aiken Standard, studies have proven that children who receive fluoride applications during infancy are less likely to develop oral health problems. Moreover, avoiding cavities can save parents a good deal of money.
Early Visits Help Parent’s as Well
Additionally, much of these early visits are devoted to informing parents about brushing and flossing routines. Parents can also learn about the potentially harmful effects of pacifiers, sippy cups and sugary snacks.
New research from England shows that most parents still believe children shouldn’t visit the dentist until they are three or four. Within the last year, 80% of one to two-year-olds in England did not visit the dentist. This may explain why 9,220 tooth extractions on children aged one to four were performed throughout the same period. Of these extractions, 48 involved infants who were less than a year old.
Most of the extractions were attributed to tooth decay, the most common reason young British children find themselves in the hospital.
Along with many other widespread dental problems, tooth decay is highly preventable. The key is ensuring patients practice good oral hygiene. These annual figures mark a 24% increase in tooth extractions on British children aged one to four over the past ten years.
Read next: Infant Dental Care: Tips for Caring for Your Infant’s Teeth