Things Parents Don’t Know About Their Children’s Dental Health: Getting Started

The Super Dentists recently conducted an extensive study about the most important aspects of pediatric dental care – overall dental health, what factors parents consider when choosing a dentist, dental screenings, signs & symptoms of dental health problems, and much more.

More than 400 parents across the country responded to our survey, which included questions ranging from when a child should first see the dentist over how dental health issues impact overall wellbeing to which issues should be addressed as a child grows from toddler to teenager. Our research uncovered plenty of surprising results!

When Should Your Child See a Dentist for the First Time?

Of the 400+ respondents, one-third (133) waited until their child was 3 years old to visit the dentist for the first time. Another approximate one-third (137) took their child to the dentist at age one.

This data strongly contrasts what pediatricians told parents about when children should first see a dentist. Nearly 150 respondents never asked when their child should see the dentist. More than a quarter of pediatricians told parents to take their child to a dentist by age 1, while 22% said by age 3 or later. But how does perception stack up against reality?

When should your child visit a dentist for the first time? Dentist, Dental Expert and Dad, Dr. Kami Hoss, recommends parents heed the “1-4-7” rule. While each child is different, Dr. Hoss recommends parents take their child to see a pediatric dentist no later than age 1, they should address children’s bad oral habits, like thumb sucking, by age 4, and they should have their child evaluated by an orthodontist no later than age 7. 

The True Impact of Pediatric Dental Health Issues

Research shows the link between oral health and overall health. This holds true for children, too. We wanted to see what parents had to say about this. 

Tooth decay is just one of the many outcomes of poor oral health. According to parents, the most worrisome aspects of tooth decay include the impacts on overall confidence, long-term physical health, and proper teeth and gum development. These three responses comprised over half of all responses. Bullying and psychological health, as it relates to their children’s smiles, were also mentioned.

How do undetected oral health problems affect their children? General pain, subpar nutrition, and lack of sleep were the most common answers. The answers suggest that parents have a pretty good read on the importance of tooth and gum health.

Dental Health As Your Child Grows

0-1 Years Old

One in five respondents (20% of parents) took their child to the dentist by age one. This figure closely aligns with what they were told by their pediatrician. (27%).

By one year old, start establishing good dental practices (regular bedtime routines, etc.)

Baby’s teeth should be:

  • Brushed (no toothpaste is OK at this stage)
  • Flossed

Does Breastfeeding have an impact on how your children’s teeth come in?

In regards to breastfeeding, some parents expressed concern about proper teeth & gum development. However, breastfeeding can help reduce cavities and promote excellent oral health.

1-2 Years Old

The ages between 1-3 sometimes involve thumb sucking and pacifier use, and these two issues are on most parents’ radars. Half of parents surveyed reported thumb sucking and nearly half (45%) confirmed their child was still using a pacifier after 1 years old. Both practices negatively impact teeth placement and can also impact the shape of the roof of the mouth. It is strongly recommended to eliminate both habits as early as possible.

At the very latest, between 1-2 years old, parents should eliminate pacifier use or start to phase it out before the child is 3 years old. Care requirements continue to evolve between 2-3 years old. By this age, children should be encouraged to brush at least twice daily and also floss on a semi-regular basis. Parents should expect to be fully involved in their children’s oral care routine. At this age, children aren’t able to grasp two-minutes, the recommended amount of time to brush, or be able to floss by themselves.

3-5 Years Old

The 3-5 age range is an important transition point for pediatric oral health. This is the point when baby & toddler bad habits should be broken, and a more established oral health care regimen is implemented. These practices include:

  • Dental visits every six months
  • Possible orthodontic screening (by age 7 at the latest)
  • Proper supervision from parents to encourage good oral care habits
  • Address issues such as nail biting/chewing. This is another common habit that negatively impacts teeth and should be discouraged. About 30% of parents confirmed their children bite their nails, so this is a fairly common habit.

Fingernail Biting & Chewing: Is it Hurting your Child’s Teeth?

At 6 years old, children are off to school. The next four years, all the way up to age 10, is another critical period for oral health. Habits established during this time can really help children “lock in” positive oral health care practices for the rest of their lives.

With the abundance of so many food and snack options, cavities are, unfortunately, a major issue with this age group. In fact, 45% of parents who responded to our survey think that 1 in 5 children between 6-10 years old have at least one dental cavity. 

To decrease the development of cavities between 6-10 years old, be sure to:

  • Encourage healthy dental care habits
  • Encourage a healthy and balanced diet
  • Continue bi-annual dental visits
  • Brush and floss with your child

Get started with positive, productive dental care habits with your children, from toddler to age 10, in order to establish a formidable foundation of lifelong health. 

Dr. Kami Hoss, founder of The Super Dentists, Howard Healthcare Academy & Acceledontics, knows all about the importance of pediatric dental care. Dr. Hoss’s website offers a considerable knowledge base covering dental articles, social media links, and other helpful content.

Dr. Hoss is set to publish a book in 2021, titled If Your Mouth Could Talk. Connecting oral health with overall well being, his book covers and how healthcare professionals can collaborate to achieve optimal results for patients. 

To stay in the loop on the publication date for If Your Mouth Could Talk, register with our website. Sign up today and receive a FREE copy of Dr. Hoss’s report, “The Surprising Link Between Oral Health and COVID-19.” 

Read more about what parents may not know about their children’s dental health in the second part of this series- school years and beyond.

Thanks for visiting Dr. Hoss’s website!

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