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Pediatric Dentistry

When Should I Take My Child To The Dentist?

Jan 17 • 3 minute read

You want only the best for your child, which is why you prioritize their oral health. But, if your child begins developing dental issues, then you may be wondering when it’s time to visit a dentist.

As a general rule of thumb, it is never a bad idea to visit a dentist for your child’s oral health concerns. But, in this post, we give you six instances that may warrant a trip to a children’s dentist in your near future.

Your Child’s First Tooth Erupted

Typically, children begin growing their milk teeth (also called baby teeth) around six months of age. So, many dental professionals recommend taking your little one to the dentist as soon as their first baby tooth erupts.

However, every little smile is different, so some children may take longer to grow their first set of little chompers. Nevertheless, experts recommend taking your baby to the dentist within the first year of their life.

Getting your child into a pediatric dental clinic early can help you address other pediatric dental issues, such as:

  • Pacifier use
  • Thumb and finger sucking
  • Teething
  • Baby bottle tooth decay
  • Kid-friendly dental hygiene practices

Your Child Has a Toothache

Children often report toothaches when their baby teeth begin making room for their permanent teeth. However, persistent toothaches that are not accompanied by a wiggly baby tooth may be a sign of something more serious, like cavities, gum disease, or dental damage.

If left untreated, a toothache can lead to painful dental infections. A dentist can locate the cause of the toothache, as well as prescribe antibiotics to avoid tooth-destroying infections.

Your Child Has Noticeable Signs of Dental Decay

Even infants and toddlers can develop extensive cavities that make eating and playing more difficult. And, while it is tempting to dismiss cavities on baby teeth, doing so may harm their adult teeth, too. This means that your little one may need dental fillings or dental crowns on their baby teeth to prevent a cascade of oral issues in the future.

Not sure how to look for cavities in your child’s smile? Here are common signs and symptoms of pediatric dental decay:

  • Brown, black, or yellow spots on the teeth
  • Sensitivity to pressure and temperature changes while eating
  • Complaints of frequent toothaches or a bad taste in their mouth
  • Noticeable grooves or pits in the teeth
  • Persistent bad breath

Your Child Has Swollen or Bloody Gums

Swollen and bloody gums are telltale signs of gum disease. Typically, children have the beginning (and completely reversible!) stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis.

Experts believe that roughly 70% of children in developed countries between the ages of six and 11 have some form of gingivitis. But, if left untreated, gingivitis may progress to more advanced stages of gum disease, which may not be reversible.

So, if you notice that your child’s gums appear to be red, swollen, or bloody, then it’s time to get them to a children’s dentist. Periodontal treatments can remove the bacteria responsible for the inflammation to strengthen your little one’s smile.

Your Child Has Irregular Jaw or Dental Alignment

Dental and jaw alignment play major roles in your child’s oral function. Certain factors can influence alignment, such as:

  • Pacifier use
  • Thumb or finger sucking
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Low tongue posture
  • Mouth breathing
  • Genetic conditions
  • Bruxism

Common alignment issues may include:

  • Underbites
  • Overbites
  • Open bites
  • Crossbites
  • Overjets
  • Diastemas (large gaps)
  • Narrow hard palates
  • Crowded teeth
  • Twisted teeth

Even if your child has a mix of baby and adult teeth, orthodontia may be the best way to remediate jaw and dental misalignments. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends early orthodontic intervention for children (called Phase One Treatment) starting as early as seven years of age.

Your Child Has a Short Lingual Frenulum

There is a string-like membrane located on the bottom of the tongue called the lingual frenulum. It secures the tongue’s position by connecting it to the floor of the mouth. When this membrane is too short, however, it causes a condition known as ankyloglossia, or tongue-tie.

Tongue-tie can make eating and speaking more difficult (or even painful) for your child. Indeed, infants with a short frenulum often struggle to form a proper latch while breastfeeding. So, addressing ankyloglossia sooner rather than later is crucial.

Signs and symptoms of tongue-tie may include:

  • An inability to touch the tongue to the sides of the mouth or upper and lower lips
  • Difficulty sticking the tongue out past the front teeth
  • A heart-shaped tongue, especially when sticking it out
  • Difficulting latching during breastfeeding
  • Breastfeeding for long periods
  • Mouth breathing
  • Tongue thrusting while swallowing
  • Jaw pain
  • Irregular speech patterns

A trusted professional can perform a frenectomy, which severs the lingual frenulum to improve the tongue’s mobility.

See a Children’s Dentist Today

Your child deserves a happy and healthy smile. So, don’t wait for painful dental issues to arise – schedule a pediatric dental visit for your little one today!

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