We all know that feeling: Uh-oh, my child has a cavity. Was it too much candy? Not enough time spent brushing? Should we have come in sooner for a checkup?
Preventive care is always the goal with any dental visit, but many questions abound. What age should my child first come to the dentist? What measures can I take to ensure that first visit doesn’t have any unfriendly surprises?
We polled dental professionals from across the mid-Atlantic region to address common questions in pediatric oral care.
First up is Dr. Michael Virts, explaining all you need to know about cavity prevention and your child’s first oral checkup.
Dr. Michael Virts, DDS | Mount Airy Children’s Dental Associates, Frederick County, Maryland
What causes cavities in children’s baby teeth?
Bacteria causes cavities. The bacteria eat the sugar that is left on the teeth after eating or drinking, then create acid, and the acid erodes the teeth, making a cavity. Cavities are caused by a combination of bacteria and a carbohydrate source.
If the bacteria were left on the teeth by not properly brushing or flossing, cavities can develop. And a proper diet low in carbohydrates is almost just as important as brushing and flossing to prevent cavities as well as seeing the dentist by the time your baby is 12 months old.
When should children get their first oral health exam?
Children should see a dentist no later than 12 months of age or when the first tooth appears in the mouth—whatever comes first. For example, if a 6-month-old baby gets a tooth in, then it’s time to see the dentist. Unfortunately, many children end up seeing a dentist for cavities for their first visit instead of seeing a dentist preventively at any early age. Cavities are a very preventable but common disease of childhood. Dental illness accounts for millions of school hours lost each year.