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The American Academy of Pediatrics defines a dental home as “the ongoing relationship between the dentist and the patient, inclusive of all aspects of oral health care delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated, and family-centered way.” But what does that mean? Well, it means that a dental home is almost the same thing as your average dentist. But there’s a couple more benefits of a dental home:
- It’s patient/family centered which means your child comes first.
- A dental home reflects the AAPD’S clinical guidelines.
- A dental home provides referrals to other dental specialists when your general dentist cannot provide the needed care.
- Children that have a dental home are healthier, have fewer hospitalizations, and have fewer emergency room visits.
Why is a dental home important to have?
You child’s first tooth should erupt when they are around six months old. When that happens, your child is at risk to get cavities. Cavities are the most common infectious disease in United States children, and they can cause your child pain. When not treated, they can cause infection that leads to eating problems, speech delays, difficulty in school and learning, and future problems with permanent teeth. It’s important to start good oral hygiene with your child as soon as possible to prevent any unnecessary cavities or trips to the hospital if the cavity gets too bad.
When should you get a dental home?
No later than twelve months of age. Try to aim for when your child gets their first tooth because they are at risk of getting a cavity.
How would you go about finding a dental home for your child?
Ask family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers if they have had children for their recommendations. If you value a medical opinion, you can ask your family doctor or local pharmacist for their recommendation. If you’re moving, ask your current dentist for recommendations for wherever you are moving. The last option would be to contact your local or state dental society for their recommendation for you.
It’s always good to start practicing good oral hygiene with your child as soon as possible. Good practice of oral hygiene in the beginning leads to a lifelong practice and minimizes cavities.