In addition to encouraging your child to brush and floss daily, the most proactive move you can make helping to maintain and improve the health of your child’s teeth and gums is to schedule regular visits with Drs. G and Prashant at Must Love Kids.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents schedule their child’s first dental appointment shortly after teeth begin to emerge or by his or her first birthday, whichever comes first. The rationale behind this recommendation is two fold. One, the more preventative dental care kids receive, the healthier their teeth will become as they transition into adulthood. And two, preventative care helps parents save money overall, as regular treatment prevents a child from developing a serious oral health problem that requires an expensive procedure to correct.
However, the results of a new study now suggest that preventative visits may not always ensure a child’s teeth stay healthy or help parents save money on more expensive procedures.
In an examination of existing studies, researchers at the University of Alabama-Birmingham found no evidence to suggest that early and frequent dental visits have any impact on preventing a child from developing serious oral health problems that require expensive treatments to correct.
A Change of Perspective
Researchers discovered that selection bias caused a serious problem with earlier studies examining this issue. Previous research had focused on children who regularly received preventative checkups without taking into account the factors that may have encouraged parents to schedule such frequent visits.
Kids who come from families with a history of oral health concerns or who have parents that are overly cautious about the health of their child’s teeth may see a dentist more frequently when compared to other children. Additionally, the children of parents who can afford to schedule regular dental care appointments disproportionately come from a certain socioeconomic background.
To reexamine the data without bias, researchers used information collected by Alabama’s Children’s Health Insurance Program. The state’s ALL Kids program provides low-cost, comprehensive dental care to all children under the age of 19. Researches then selected kids who were continuously enrolled in ALL Kids for at least three years to study, resulting in data nearly from 15,000 kids eight and under and over 21,000 kids age eight to 19.
Upon examination of the data collected, researchers discovered that children who underwent regular preventative checkups saved their parents little money overall. While one preventative visit a year helped reduce the cost of non-preventative dental services in the future, subsequent checkups did not further reduce the amount parents needed to spend on non-preventative dental care.
In other words, while children still need some preventative care to help prevent the onset of tooth decay and gum disease, parents should no longer consider repeated visits to the dentist as a cost saving tool against future dental care.
Home Care the Key
Preventative dental care is only part of the equation when trying to maintain and improve oral health. To enjoy strong teeth and gums, kids need to brush and floss daily, just as adults. Unfortunately, getting kids to take their oral health seriously is a tough task for any parent. Brush and flossing daily can seem especially tedious to children, and quality oral hygiene often gets neglected when parents allow young kids to handle these daily habits alone.
In the long-term, visiting the dentist two or three times a year won’t prevent the development of a serious oral health concern that requires expensive treatments if a child neglects his teeth at home. To help reduce costs and keep their child’s teeth healthy, parents need to take a more active role in their kids’ oral hygiene routines. Whether this means continuing to brush your child’s teeth at night until they begin to take the habit seriously or standing in the bathroom with them as they brush, parents need to improve the oral care their kids receive at home if they want to avoid spending money at the dentist’s office.
If you have any questions about the best practices for taking care of your child’s teeth, feel free to ask any member of our friendly staff at our Vancouver dental office for kids.