Parents Should Guide Kids’ Dental Health

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Parents should guide kids’ dental health

Chalsey Nelsen

Posted: Friday, February 6, 2015 4:15 pm by Chris Mertes

According to the American Dental Association, parents should begin thinking about their child’s dental care even as that first tooth erupts.

“I couldn’t agree more with this recommendation,” remarked Dr. Chalsey Nelsen, a dentist with First Choice Dental’s Sun Prairie office, 140 N. City Station Drive. “New parents have lots of questions about their child’s development, and dental questions rank among the top.”

“The American Dental Association recommends, and we at First Choice Dental agree, that parents should establish a dental home for their infant within six months of the first tooth eruption,” Nelsen said. “At this initial well-child dental visit, we can check developing teeth even below the gums, and answer questions about nutrition, bottle feeding, fluoride, teething and other baby dental health issues.”

Preschool Children

Preschool into kindergarten is an exciting time in a child’s dental health development with first visits from the tooth fairy, and a growing sense of independence as children learn to care for their own teeth. Says Nelsen, “This is a critical time to develop good oral hygiene habits, and have regular check-ups every six months.” And although children are becoming more independent, it’s still important to oversee or assist in tooth brushing.

Seven and Eight Year Olds

Once children turn seven or eight years old, most have a mix of adult and baby teeth. By age seven, the American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children should see an orthodontist.

“Modern orthodontics has changed over the past decade. Now we can spot subtle problems with jaw growth or emerging teeth even while baby teeth are still present,” Nelsen said. “This is important because some problems are easier to correct if they are found early.”

At this age, children still need reminders to help encourage regular brushing and flossing, and should be developing a knowledge base of good nutritional habits, like limiting soda and sweets, as well.


“The teen years are crucial years for orthodontics and good post-braces care,” Nelsen said. “At this age, teens are especially at risk for tooth decay caused by soda, sugar, and constant snacking.”

If kids aren’t motivated from a nutritional or health standpoint, the dentist can be an ally in reminding them that their food choices and dental health habits will have a life-long impact on the appearance of their smile as well.

A healthy smile is an integral part of a child’s overall health at every age.

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