Having beautiful teeth for life begins with an early and regular checkup with your dentist. But you already knew that…
The goal of a thorough cosmetic dental program is to help the patient maintain their natural healthy smile. This starts the moment that a baby erupts with their primary incisors and never really ends. There are significant changes to our teeth throughout our lives and naturally, the focus of dental care will need to change accordingly. Below are some of the broad developmental stages that require special attention.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and Canadian Dental Association recommend taking your child to visit the dentist between the ages of 6 months and 1 year. At this stage, most infants will only have a few teeth and will be unlikely to remember the visit. However, we stress the importance of early dental visits as a chance for the dentist and parents to discuss the oral care of the child. We will discuss breast and bottle feeding and the risks of early childhood caries (ECC), as well as cleaning techniques following feedings and at night. The possible effects of prolonged use of a soother or thumb sucking can be addressed with strategies for weening the child from these habits. Most often we want to be able to answer questions regarding healthy tooth development, as an emerging tooth can often look quite uncomfortable under the gums.
Toddlers and pre-school children
As children grow their dental needs will start to change. It is quite helpful to start a rapport between the dentist and the child as an individual and have a number of "easy" appointments prior to any more invasive dentistry if necessary. The child is growing and will want to emulate their older siblings or parents with tooth brushing and night time routines. Yet, children often do not have the manual dexterity to properly clean all areas of their mouth. The primary (also known as deciduous, milk or baby) teeth are much more important than most parents realize. These teeth help determine the space held for adult teeth in the future. Decay or premature loss of these teeth may create crowding in the position of the next set of permanent teeth. Orthodontics or cosmetic dental techniques may then be needed in the future to correct issues that could have been avoided. At this stage, we want to reinforce oral hygiene techniques with the aid of parents, a healthy diet and positive dental experiences.
Elementary aged children
Major changes occur in the lives and development at this time in one's life. The influence of friends, freedom and increased availability of food choices will impact oral health. With all the distractions, there does not seem to be enough time for brushing, let alone flossing, of the teeth. Children will be too independent now to allow parents to help them with oral hygiene. This stage of life marks the gradual change from primary (baby) to secondary (adult) teeth. As mentioned, tooth decay can be detrimental to the spacing of teeth. Regular visits to your dentist will allow us to monitor the development of the teeth as well as the whole head and neck region. Prior to their growth spurt, children will benefit from a visit to the orthodontist to screen them for some guidance in the position of the teeth and facial growth. Both the American and Canadian Association of Orthodontists recommend a visit to the orthodontist by the age of 7 for early checks. Early intervention can be more effective and less invasive than delaying treatment until past puberty or into adulthood.
High-school aged young adults
Other than wisdom teeth, the full complement of adult dentition will be present in teenagers. This is the only set of teeth that develops naturally and needs to be maintained for another 75+ years. Therefore, stressing preventative measures on the teeth is essential. Peer pressure and self-esteem will affect teens differently. Some will be concerned about their appearance and welcome treatment, such as orthodontics, while others will shun having braces. Oral hygiene instructions and regular dental checks are important ways to encourage a healthy relationship with ones teeth. Teens may start becoming interested in cosmetic dentistry, but usually teeth whitening, veneers and implants are delayed until adulthood when the position of the teeth have stabilized and the enamel is fully mineralized (hardest).
American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry - Dental Care for you Baby. http://www.aapd.org/publications/brochures/babycare.asp
American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry - Regular Visits. http://www.aapd.org/publications/brochures/regdent.asp
American Academy of Orthodontics - Problems to what for in Growing Children http://www.aaomembers.org/Press/upload/Problems-to-Watch-for-in-Growing-Children-APPROVED1.pdf
Canadian Academy of Orthodontics - Facts and Information. http://www.cao-aco.org/ORTHODONTICINFO/facts.asp#EIGHT