Children's Dental Health

Children’s First Dental Visit 

Children’s teeth usually begin to appear at about 6 months of age and it is recommended that their first dental appointment be at 1 year old. Although only primary teeth are present at this time, these teeth serve an important function up to age 12 and need to be maintained. Primary teeth help children chew, swallow, speak clearly, look attractive, and they maintain a position for the permanent teeth. 

In addition to cleaning the teeth at the first visit, the dentist will evaluate how a child’s teeth and mouth are developing and he will check for early signs of problems. The dentist will also determine the level of fluoride the child is receiving because the permanent teeth are starting to develop at this time. In addition, the dentist can offer parents suggestions on the proper homecare for their child’s teeth. Parents may need pointers on brushing their child’s teeth or recommendations on ways to prevent such problems as baby bottle tooth decay and thumb sucking habits. 

Most importantly, these visits will allow a child to get acclimated to the dental office and develop beneficial dental habits that will last a lifetime. 


Since their development in the 1970’s, dental sealants have been highly effective at reducing cavities in children. Numerous studies have shown a dramatic reduction in decay when sealants were applied soon after the permanent teeth erupted. Yet as effective as sealants are at providing protection against decay, only about 20% of children in the US have had this recommended procedure. 

A sealant is a plastic coating that is brushed onto the teeth and then hardened into an impenetrable barrier to bacteria and decay. Sealants are primarily used on the permanent molar teeth which have deep grooves and depressions. These teeth account for 90% of cavities in children when sealants are not applied. Typically lasting several years, and taking only minutes to apply, the cost of sealants is paid for many times over by virtually eliminating the need for fillings. 

Children’s teeth should be checked around the time of their first birthday and sealants applied as the 6 and 12 year molars erupt. 

Mouthguards - the Best Dental Insurance 

Each year 15 million people in the United States suffer dental injuries and 5 million teeth are knocked-out. The majority of these cases are sports injuries and the athletes are most commonly between 10-19 years old. The months from December - March have the highest injury reports with Basketball alone responsible for 1/3 of all sports injuries. Overall, an athlete has a 1 in 10 chance of sustaining a facial or dental injury every season they compete and is 70% more likely to sustain damage to their teeth when not wearing a mouthguard. 

There are 3 types of mouthguards available: 

  • Stock trays are widely available, one-size-fits-all, soft appliances that are often quite bulky and loose fitting. They provide the least protection and comfort.
  • Boil-and-bite appliances are also widely available and provide a more comfortable, semi-custom fit. They provide a moderate amount of protection and are recommended only for non-impact sports.
  • Custom-made mouthguards are made by a dentist from impressions made from the teeth. They provide the most comfortable fit and can be customized to provide the proper amount of protection based on the expected level of contact. These are appropriate for all impact sports (football, hockey, soccer, and basketball).

It only takes a second to suffer a life-long dental injury. Mouthguards are an important insurance from a lifetime of dental problems.

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