Parents not taking toddlers to the dentists

23rd Jun 2017
Parents not taking toddlers to the dentists

(Photo: Dave Buchwald/Creative Commons)

Many parents are not taking their young children to the dentist – often because they think they are too young to go for a check-up. But leading dental surgeons have expressed their concerns about the number of young children having to have teeth extracted because they had not visited a dentist. Many parents wrongly think that babies and toddlers are too young for a dental check-up, but surgeons have said this misconception needs to be addressed as they are seeing an increasing number of children having teeth extracted in hospitals – including children less than a year old.

Recent figures have shown that 80 percent of one to two year olds in England did not visit the dentist in the last year, showing that most parents are unaware of the need to take even young children for a check-up. Many parents feel that babies and toddlers are too young for a visit to the dentists and also perhaps do not worry as much about baby teeth, knowing they will fall out over time and be replaced by permanent teeth.

However, latest annual figures show that there were 9,220 cases of tooth extractions performed in hospitals in England on children aged one to four – a 24 percent rise in a decade. This included 48 cases where infants were less than a year old. Many of these cases were due to tooth decay, which could be prevented through good oral hygiene and advice from the dentist.

The data also showed a worrying trend amongst pre-school children too as the figures also show that 60 percent of children aged one to four did not have a dental check-up in the same period.

It is recommended that children should start having dental check-ups from when their first teeth appear, which is generally from around 6 months old – it is also important to remember that check-ups are free on the NHS for all children. Visiting a dentist could prevent the need for a hospital visit for a tooth extraction – which can be an upsetting experience for a young child. Getting into good habits early is important – as is building up a positive experience of visiting the dentist for your child.

Rachel Kayani

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