Kevin E. Hardy DDS: About Pediatric Dentistry
Oral health professional Kevin E. Hardy DDS poses the following questions: Are you a parent? If so, has your child seen a pediatric dentist? At what age did your child have his or her first pediatric dental appointment? And finally, do you know how early the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children have their first dental appointment?
The answer to this last question may surprise you. Generally speaking, the Academy recommends that the first appointment take place by the time your child is one year old. Alternatively, they recommend an appointment within six months of the first tooth erupting. For many parents, this is a bit of a shock; after all, is it really necessary for children to visit the dentist so young, before they even have a full set of pearly whites?
The answer is that yes, it is very important for kids to receive a dental evaluation so early in their lives.. Kevin E. Hardy DDS is a strong advocate of pediatric dentistry. Though he has provided dental services to children and adults alike, pediatric care is an area of particular commitment.
But why is it so important, and does it really matter? What are the benefits of taking your child to a pediatric dentistry appointment so early? And what are the potential consequences for delaying this important first trip to the dentist? Read on for those answers and more, from Kevin E. Hardy himself.
An Early Start
The most significant reason for your child to see a dentist before his or her fist birthday is simply to prevent bigger problems during the critical stages of tooth development. You, the parent, are setting the environment for your child’s oral health: You are establishing your child’s dental home, ensuring that the teeth and gums are developing properly, and youare establishing a pattern of oral hygiene for your child—one that he or she will, hopefully, maintain! You are telling your child that this is important.
You are laying the groundwork for good oral hygiene. You are taking early action to ensure a healthy smile and beautiful teeth. With the stakes so high, starting early just makes sense.
Tooth Decay Can Happen Early
Tooth decay can start extremely early in life—in fact, it can happen before your child stops breastfeeding! Certainly, the potential exists as soon as the first tooth breaks through. With the appearance of the first tooth, your child will likely stop at-will breastfeeding, and you will provide other forms of nutrition; this is the main source for future dental problems!
Here are a few basic tips to help prevent tooth decay at such an early age:
- Avoid putting your son or daughter to sleep with a bottle containing anything other than water. Juices, especially sugary ones, can cause plaque build-up on the teeth. That build-up, of course, is what leads to tooth decay.
- In fact, it is prudent to avoid sugary drinks and juices as much as possible. Save them for meal times. Food partiality is a learned trait, and delaying a pattern of sweet foods makes it less likely that your child will later develop a “sweet tooth” and the habit of frequently partaking in tooth-corroding beverages, Kevin E. Hardy DDS advises.
- This is not only true for bottles, but for “sippy cups,” as well. A sippy cup should generally contain water, not sugary drinks. Sippy cups, available at-will and filled with sugary drinks, can significantly increase the risk of tooth decay. And please, NEVER put soda into a child’s bottle or sippy cup!
Bad Habits Have Consequences
The habits your child forms as an infant or toddler can have significant repurcussions later in life—including consequences for his or her teeth and jaws. It is easier to guide children into good habits early than to break harmful habits later. A pediatric dentist is there to guide and assist you .
For example, did you know that thumb sucking can cause misalignment of the jaw? This is not meant to sound alarmist, as sucking the thumb is normal for infants and most children break this habit by age two. However, parents should be aware that extended finger or thumb habits can lead to dental and oral joint problems which will ultimately need orthodontic correction. Many dentists recommend the use of an orthodontic pacifier as it fulfills an infant’s need to suckle but is an easier behavior to modify as the child grows.
A prolonged habit of intense thumb sucking is no small matter. Prolonged is the key word. Its effects on the jaw can prove severe, in addition to the development of an open bite or an overbite. An evaluation from a pediatric dental specialist can help, however. The pediatric dentist evaluates and provides suggestions to control harmful habits to protect your son or daughter from future jaw and tooth problems.
Kevin E. Hardy DDS: Brush Early and Often
Despite all of these reasons for starting oral hygiene early, many parents continue to think it a bit silly. They think that it is unnecessary to prioritize dental health until the child has a full set of teeth. Here is one further fact that might surprise you, then: Most dentists recommend that you start brushing for your child before the first tooth erupts!
Why brush before there are even any teeth, you ask? Well, do it because brushing is about more than the teeth. It is also about the gums. Brushing and massaging your baby’s gums help ensure good gum health. You don’t need toothpaste for this, by the way—just an infant toothbrush and some water.
Once teeth erupt, regular brushing patterns should begin. What that means is brushing at least twice a day. Use an infant brush for this, and an amount of toothpaste that is no bigger than the size of a pea.
Prevention is Key
Here is the bottom line, according to Kevin Hardy. We all know that preventing disease is preferable to treating it. Not only is it better for us, but it is less expensive! The same principle holds true for pediatric oral hygiene, as well.
Tooth decay is the number one chronic illness among children. Any child whose diet includes anything other than breast milk can experience tooth decay. As such, regular evaluations from a pediatric dentist set your child on the path to oral wellness, before harm occurs.
About Kevin E. Hardy DDS
Kevin E. Hardy DDS is an oral health professional who is committed to helping people lead healthy lives.. He encourages prevention with regular oral hygiene, advocates more natural dental care, and is dedicated to pediatric dental care. Kevin E. Hardy DDS appreciates the opportunity to assist people of all ages maintain healthy teeth and gums. According to Kevin E. Hardy DDS, this is a process that begins in infancy and lasts a lifetime.
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