How Early Should Your Child's Oral Health Care Begin? Written By: Dr. Ankita Shah, February 2019

Baby Teeth

In developing countries like India 33-80 % of kids aged 2-5 yrs suffer from a disease called as Early Childhood Caries often referred as ECC which starts off as early as the teeth appear.

As we all know “Prevention is better than cure," it is best to visit a pediatric dentist as soon as the first tooth erupts or no later than your child's first birthday.

Parents should be given knowledge that to ensure an optimal oral health environment one should initiate right from infancy. Studies have shown that there exists a Window of Infectivity between 19-28 months which is also the period of active tooth eruption. This is the interval where infant's diet changes and growth of cariogenic bacteria increases which in turn combine to promote plaque formation and subsequent acid production which leads to cavitation.

Prenatal counseling to expectant mothers greatly helps in reducing dental caries. The goal of prenatal care is to educate the parents about dental growth and development as well as prevention of dental caries. Emphasis is also laid on how habits and lifestyle, nutrition and certain medications taken during pregnancy can affect your child's teeth.

Post natal care is to provide preventive, anticipatory and therapeutic guidance. It also helps in deciding the periodicity of subsequent visits which generally is semiannually. Breastfeeding, bottle feeding and weaning play an important role in laying a foundation for good infancy oral health.

The relationship of these individual factors and its effects on oral health will be discussed in the following posts.

It is thus essential to establish a Dental Home for your child no later than 12 months which positively reinforces both the parents and children towards achieving oral health care in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated and family centered way.

"It's better to start early than to chase the cure."

Keywords : Prevention is better than cure, infant oral health care, pediatric dentist, prenatal care, oral health, postnatal care, infancy, cariogenic bacteria