A new campaign is hoping to raise awareness about the importance of establishing a good dental routine from an early age.
The ‘First Dental Visit' campaign has been launched by Dental Care Ireland and according to its group clinical advisor, Dr Paul O'Dwyer, despite the fact that our baby teeth eventually fall out, their importance cannot be overstated.
"Baby teeth are just as prone to cavities as permanent or 'adult' teeth. Teaching children to look after their baby teeth from an early age will pave the way for a healthy adult mouth. Early attendance at the dentist is the cornerstone of good dental health, and a successful first dental visit can make all the difference," he explained.
He noted that healthy baby teeth are essential for things like biting, chewing and developing speech.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign, TV presenter, Karen Koster, noted that parents often wait until there is a problem with their children's teeth before they seek professional advice.
"At the baby and toddler stage in particular, it is so helpful to speak to a dentist and find out what you should or shouldn't be doing to prevent potential issues from the outset. I am sure most parents will agree that it is a challenge to get any toddler to brush their teeth, but it's all about establishing a routine and hopefully encouraging a habit for life," she said.
The campaign offers the following tips when it comes to a child's first visit to the dentist:
-When to visit - the ideal time is before the child reaches the age of two and preferably when the first tooth arrives
-Appointment time - for a first visit, it is essential that the child is relaxed so ideally pick a time when they are not feeling tired, rushed or hungry. The appointment time should not interfere with naps or activities, or even a favourite TV programme
-Talk about teeth - Use positive language ahead of the appointment, such as ‘looking at the mouth', rather than talking about things such as fillings and extractions
-Establish a brushing routine - it is a good idea to introduce the concept of oral hygiene when the first tooth appears. For 0-2-year-olds, brushing with a toothbrush and water is best. For 2-7-year-olds, brushing twice a day with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste is recommended
-What to expect - depending on the child's age, they may sit on the parent's lap or in the chair by themselves. The dentist will examine the mouth and gums and may take an x-ray if needed. They will then polish the child's teeth and offer hygiene and dietary advice.
Dental Care Ireland is a new Irish-owned network of established dental practices nationwide. Throughout the month of March, it will be offering a free first dental visit to all patients under the age of five. For locations, click here
*Pictured at the launch of the campaign is TV presenter, Karen Koster, and Kate O'Riordan (2)