The health care needs of children aged 6 months to 12 years, and into their teens, are unique. Keeping an eye on a child’s dental health or vision at an early age may help to minimize or avoid problems and higher costs down the road.
When should a child go to the dentist for the first time?
The Canadian Dental Association, the CDA, recommends that you bring your child in for their first dental checkup within six months of the first tooth, or at one year of age.
A dentist examining a toddler may want to take X-rays to ensure there is no decay between teeth, and can help to identify if crooked or crowded teeth may prove to be a problem in the future.
As primary teeth will be in your child’s mouth until the age of 12 approximately, it’s important to treat any tooth decay to stop its spread. An extraction may even be necessary.
When a baby tooth falls out, the teeth on either side may at times shift into that space. This can block or obstruct the permanent tooth when it comes in. Your dentist may want to insert a plastic or metal space-holder on the teeth on either side.
What if my child needs braces?
Between the ages of 6 and 9, most children will start to see their permanent adult teeth appearing. Your dentist may refer you to an orthodontist for consultation. These specialists will look for things such as tooth crowding and jaw misalignment resulting in an overbite or underbite.
Though the cost can seem financially daunting or even cost-prohibitive for anyone not covered by a group or employee plan, certain Flexcare® and FollowMe™ Health Insurance Plans from Manulife can help to cover such items as braces and orthodontics, space maintainers and more. Plans are customizable, and affordable.*
Orthodontic treatments can take up to two years and range in the thousands of dollars, so many orthodontists allow payments in instalments.
Children have softer and more pliable bones because they are still growing. That is why it’s better for them to get braces at an earlier age. It’s easier on their bodies than it is on an adult’s, and takes less time in many cases.
There’s less of a stigma for children getting braces these days too. Many orthodontists even offer coloured braces designed to appeal to children. Other options include “invisible” braces as an alternative to silver-tone braces.
Does your child need glasses?
Does your child squint, sit too close to the TV, lean in just a little too much to the laptop, or rub their eyes a lot? It could mean they need glasses. Keeping your eyes peeled for these signs could warrant a trip to the optometrist, as vision issues can affect learning.
The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends that children have their first eye exam between the ages of six and twelve months, then annually throughout their school years.
Up to 4% of children have amblyopia, which is sometimes called “lazy eye”. This can be treated with vision therapy, eyeglasses, contacts and more.
The next trick is getting toddlers and preschoolers to actually wear their eyeglasses, which is easier said than done! Setting an example by wearing your own (even if you don’t need them) can help. As they get a little older, the value of eyeglasses as fashion items may turn the tide on their eyeglass-avoidance.
As with braces, the world of eyewear has also changed to make kids want to get and wear them. Children’s eyeglasses are now available in everything from sparkles and bright colours, to children’s superheroes and comic book characters.
Plans such as Manulife Flexcare® Health and Dental Insurance Plans can help protect you against routine and unexpected expenses including eyeglasses, dental care, prescription care and more.*
*Conditions, limitations and exclusions apply. See policy for details.