The health care needs of children aged 6 months to 12 years and into their teens are unique. After all, their bodies are still growing and changing every day. Intervening in a child’s dental health or vision at an early age may help to minimize or avoid problems and higher costs down the road.
Is it too early for the dentist?
According to the Canadian Dental Association (CDA), you should bring your child in for their first dental checkup within six months of the first tooth, or at the age of one.1
A dentist examining a toddler may want to take X-rays to check for decay between teeth, and to help get a sense of whether crooked or crowded teeth could be a problem in the future.2
Primary teeth will stay in your child’s mouth until about the age of 12. Even though they’ll eventually fall out, it’s very important to stop tooth decay in its tracks, to help stop the spread of decay and maintain good oral health. In some cases, a dentist may recommend an extraction.3
Sometimes when a baby tooth falls out, the teeth on either side can opportunistically shift into that space, which can influence or obstruct the permanent tooth when it comes in. Your dentist may recommend inserting a plastic or metal spacer to maintain a healthy clearance for the permanent tooth when it starts to come in.4
Brace yourself for the cost of braces!
Permanent adult teeth make their debut in children between the ages of 6 and 9. When this happens it’s not unusual for a dentist to recommend seeing an orthodontist for a consultation. Orthodontists look for correctable issues like tooth crowding and jaw misalignment resulting in an overbite or underbite.5
Orthodontic treatments are notoriously expensive, and can take up to two years and range in the thousands of dollars, so many orthodontists allow payments in instalments. But don’t despair. The good news is some CAA Health & Dental plans can help families cover the cost of braces too.
Worried about your child adjusting to braces? Don’t – children’s bones are softer and more pliable than adults’, so generally braces are easier on them. It often takes less time to correct the teeth of a child with braces than an adult!6
There’s less of a stigma for children getting braces these days too. Some orthodontists offer brightly coloured, even social media-worthy braces designed to appeal to children! Other options include “invisible” braces for children who are more self-conscious. The science and technology of orthodontics is constantly changing, and a good orthodontist will be on top of what’s new and what’s popular.
How do you know if your child needs glasses?
Does your child squint, sit too close to the TV, lean in just a little too much to the laptop or tablet, or rub their eyes a lot? It could mean they need glasses and it’s time to see the optometrist. Vision issues, apart from helping your children see clearly, can also affect their ability to learn and perform in school.7
According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists, children should have their first eye exam between the ages of 6 and 12 months, then annually throughout their school years.8
Up to 4% of children have amblyopia, which is more often referred to as “lazy eye”, a correctable condition which could require vision therapy, eyeglasses or contacts.9
Individual insurance plans such as CAA Health and Dental Insurance can help offset the cost of routine and unexpected health expenses for your children, including vision care, dental care, prescription drugs and more. Some plans also provide coverage for orthodontic services including braces (there is a two-year waiting period before purchasing).
1, 2, 3, 4 Canadian Dental Association, Your Child’s First Visit. http://www.cda- adc.ca/en/oral_health/cfyt/dental_care_children/first_visit.asp
5, 6 Today’s Parent, Does your kid really need braces?http://www.todaysparent.com/kids/school-age/does-your-kid-really-need-braces/
7, 8, 9 How to tell if your child needs glasses. ttps://www.thestar.com/life/2016/09/15/how-to-tell-if-your-child-needs-glasses-and-to-make-sure-they-wear-them.html