mom and daughter brushing teeth

National Children’s Dental Health Month

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

Do you have children needing dental treatment but are unsure how to help?

Many parents go through the same stress of figuring out how and when to see a pediatric dentist.

It is important for parents and children to feel comfortable asking their dentist questions, which is why we’re here to help.

February is the month of the year when dental professionals associated with the American Dental Association focus on dental health awareness for kids. (ADA)

National Children’s Dental Health Month started way back in 1941, and in 1981, it became the month-long observance that stands to this day.

Parents and caregivers must understand that a child’s teeth are not like an adult’s; specialized, early care is necessary to prevent greater damage in later years.


Group of young children smiling

The Difference Between Baby and Adult Teeth

There are fundamental differences between infant teeth and adult teeth.

Cavities can form quickly as a child’s tooth enamel is very thin and their nerves are large.

This means the same bacteria can get to their nerve in months, whereas it could stay in an adult’s enamel for years.

Baby teeth are important as they lay the foundation for oral health—you shouldn’t let them decay with the thought of “they’ll fall out anyways.”

Even with healthy food choices, decay can still occur if teeth are not brushed regularly.

Parents and caregivers should avoid juices and sodas and ensure their child drinks plenty of water.

Once children reach the age of 8-10, they can take more responsibility for their dental health. Until then, a parent or caregiver should brush and floss for them daily.


When Should Your Child Switch to a Regular Dentist?

We are often asked what age to switch from pediatric care to a regular adult dentist.

Many children become attached to their pediatric dental and orthodontic care providers and feel anxious about seeing a general dentist.

A pediatric dentist typically sees children from 6 months old until their final adult teeth have come in.

A child will continue to develop adult teeth until they are 12 or 13 years of age. During this time, appropriate orthodontic treatment may be carried out.

However, many parents opt to have their children continue to see a pediatric dentist and orthodontist into their teenage years.

This is fine! Pediatric dentists are more than capable of treating adolescents (and even adults).

Specialized pediatric dentists are also more familiar with adolescent oral development and orthodontic issues than general dentists.

Five Laughing Teens Outdoors


Are Teenagers Too Old for a Pediatric Dentist?

Typically, children will have moved on to an adult dentist or orthodontist by the time they reach the age of 18 years old.

As kids age and reach their teen years, you may wonder whether it makes sense to have them continue seeing a pediatric dentist. The answer is “yes.”

Although teens may not be little kids anymore, they continue to learn about healthy habits for healthy smiles.

As children grow, their teeth go through many changes. Most teens continue to experience growth and development of the face and jaw. The last of permanent teeth come in during this time.

This growth requires professional support and care.

Continuing to see a pediatric dentist who knows their dental history will allow for personalized care.

Most teens require orthodontic screening and evaluation on whether the wisdom teeth require removal, and pediatric dentists are well-equipped to provide these services.

Final Comments

Early dental care is essential for a lifetime of good oral health.

Regular dental checkups, brushing twice a day, flossing, and eating a healthy diet will all help your children develop and maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Remember, regular dental visits help detect any early signs of decay and prevent more serious problems from developing.

Avalon Family Dentistry is just that, a FAMILY dentist.

We want to be of service to your entire family, so call today, and we will assist you in getting them scheduled.

We are situated on Federal Way, WA, and welcome patients from neighboring areas.