The Role of a Family Dentist in Early Childhood Dental Care
Early childhood dental visits can help establish a good foundation for lifetime oral health. Children who have a habit of regular dental checkups in conjunction with diligent at-home care have the best chance for healthy, permanent teeth and a positive self-image. In addition, they are more likely to keep these healthy habits into their teenage and adult years. Family dentists are accustomed to working with children of all ages and can provide valuable education about how to care for teeth and gums at every stage.
Although the enamel of baby teeth is much thinner than that of permanent teeth, it is still susceptible to decay and cavities from the moment they erupt. A child’s first dental visit should be within six months of the eruption of their first tooth or by their first birthday, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAP). Early and consistent dental visits and at-home hygiene can prevent immediate oral issues in children while fostering lifelong oral health.
During focus groups conducted in Southern California, caregivers reported a variety of negative and positive experiences that might facilitate or hinder the provision of oral healthcare to their children. Positive experiences included caregivers’ knowledge of brushing and flossing techniques, their own access to affordable dental care, and their ability to navigate the insurance system. Negative experiences, on the other hand, included perceived lack of explanation of treatment by the dentist and a range of negative interactions with the dentist and staff. These included separation of the caregiver from their child, inappropriate use of medication, restraining of their child (either without or with the parent’s consent), and the perception that the dentist did not understand how to work with children.
In addition, the majority of participants, 92.1% (57.5% pediatricians and 42.5% family physicians), believed that they played an important role in the prevention of teeth caries and promoting infants’ oral health, with pediatricians considering this significantly more than family physicians. However, in reality, pediatricians and family physicians encounter young children more frequently than dentists do, and it is possible that this contact might contribute to the low levels of understanding among these practitioners about the onset of dental disease and how to promote early dental care measures for their patients.
As the population grows older, it becomes increasingly difficult to find dental professionals who specialize in children’s care and are familiar with the unique needs of this population. Family dental practices are well-equipped to deal with the oral healthcare needs of all ages, from children’s dental care to denture maintenance. In addition, these dentists are more familiar with the insurance systems in their areas and can provide helpful guidance to parents regarding their child’s potential coverage. This can lead to a more positive experience for the entire family. It also reduces the likelihood of a family developing an avoidance of dental care because of an unfavorable initial experience. This could be particularly true for low-income families with limited options for dental care in the community.
Whether you need a filling, root canal, or a new tooth, an emergency dentist can provide the quick and effective treatment you need to restore your smile. Make sure you work with the best Northbrook dentist who is dedicated to helping our patients maintain beautiful, healthy smiles.