A UK study has discovered that children who are in foster and residential care are more likely to require urgent dental treatment. They are half as likely to see a dentist regularly compared to other children their age and who are not in care. Children who are in care are twice as likely to need to have a tooth extracted under general anesthetic compared to those living with family. The differences in dental health between children who are in care and those who are not is pretty stark. Nearly half of children in care failing to see a pediatric dentist regularly compared to 38% of children living with family. Some 23% of five-year-old’s in care have had urgent dental needs including dental abscesses or severe dental decay. This is compared to just 10% of children living with family members.
What researchers couldn’t discern is whether these differences were due to the state failing to look after children once they enter into the care system. Another reason can be that these children were previously suffering from factors that contributed to poor dental health. Unfortunately, what is known is that when a child needs urgent dental care it means that they have poor physical health. When children need tooth extractions under general anesthesia, this tends to be an early indication of poor physical health. Additionally, tooth decay is preventable. The degree of urgent dental care needs in children in care seems to show they do not receive the kind of preventative care necessary for good dental health. While this is a UK study, it does highlight the need for good preventative dental care for children of all ages. In all circumstances and parents and caregivers can fail to realize the importance of early preventative dental care. Sometimes this is down to simple confusion over when a child should first see a dentist and how to look after a child’s milk or primary teeth. When Should a Child First See a Paediatric Dentist? Some dentists recommend taking a child to see a dentist by age three. Others feel great dental care should start earlier, advising parents to book their child’s first dental visit by age one, or as soon as the first tooth pokes through the gums. Why Is This First Dental Visit So Important? There are several reasons why this very first visit is so important. Firstly, it’s an opportunity for your child’s pediatric dentist to carefully examine your child’s mouth. This won’t be a long examination in such a young child. It’s more likely to be a quick look inside the mouth just to check everything is normal. Secondly, an early dental visit is a terrific opportunity for a young child to become accustomed to a brand-new environment. This is while they feeling comfortable and cared for. This is far better than waiting until a young child develops tooth decay. This is because their very first experience of dentalcare will be when they feel frightened and in pain. By getting a young child used to the new sights, sounds and smells of a dental office, you can help them to grow up free from dental fears and phobias. This is a huge advantage and will help ensure that your child is more likely to enjoy good dental health right throughout their life. Thirdly, early dental visits are an opportunity for new parents to discuss their child’s dental care with their pediatric dentist. Your dentist will be able to show you exactly how to clean your child’s teeth causing minimal stress for you both. Using the right techniques, the right toothbrush and toothpaste will help ensure your child’s teeth remain thoroughly clean and free from disease. Your child’s dentist can also talk to you about general dental care and is bound to have some useful tips and advice. He/she will tell you which foods are good for dental health as well as those that are best avoided or kept as an occasional treat. How Often Should a Child See a Paediatric Dentist? Most children need to see a dentist every six months for regular checkups and professional cleanings. A child’s dental health can change quite quickly. It’s important for a dentist to continually monitor the growth and development and the general health of their teeth and jaws. They will need regular dental x-rays and your dentist can advise you how frequently these will be required. These x-rays are important for showing the position of teeth yet to erupt. It’s also used to identifying any problems that may be developing in areas hidden from view. For example the contact areas in between teeth and where tooth decay can often occur. There is no need to worry about your child having dental x-rays because most dental offices use digital dental x-ray equipment that is extremely safe. They emit far lower levels of radiation compared with conventional film x-rays. These visits form an important part of their preventative dental care plan. What Is a Preventative Dental Care Plan?
Every child who sees a dentist receives a customised dental care plan. This is based on the child’s dental needs and their current dental health. Your child’s preventative plan will tell you how frequently they should see a dentist for checkups and cleanings. It also has information about other preventative dental care treatments that could help. For example, fluoride is an extremely useful mineral that can harden children’s teeth, increasing the resistance to acid erosion and tooth decay. Other treatments that may be useful include sealants. If your child is growing up to be keen on sports, it’s worth asking your dentist about a custom-made mouthguard. This will help protect their teeth and jaws while they enjoy playing sports and is specially designed to offer maximum protection. Regular dental care is extremely important if your child is to grow up enjoying not only a healthy mouth but a healthy body. Numerous clinical studies have shown a strong association between poor dental health and poor physical health. It is a situation that is easily avoidable with the right professional dental care combined with a good dental care routine at home.