It takes a village to raise a child. Family members, teachers, coaches, and primary care physicians are all part of that village, helping support you as a parent ensure the health and well-being of your child. So, why not take advantage of that support system and schedule the necessary appointments to make sure your child is up to date on their health maintenance?
Doctors are often seen as someone you go to when you are sick. In reality, seeing a doctor regularly can help prevent and manage illness. As a parent, you work hard every day to make sure your children are eating nutritious meals and getting enough exercise, which are both critically important to their health. Additionally, little ones need regular wellness checkups, immunizations, and dental screenings to protect them from preventable illnesses and track their development.
Visiting the doctor for a wellness check is important, even when your child is healthy. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) developed a set of guidelines for well-child care, outlining how often children should visit with their primary care providers for checkups.
Before your child turns two, they should visit the doctor at one, two, four, six, nine, 12, 15, and 18 months old. During their third year, they should visit the doctor every six months. After that, a yearly wellness checkup is sufficient, and a good habit for them to carry into adulthood.
There are many reasons to visit your child’s care provider regularly. The first is prevention. Regular visits ensure that you are aware of your child’s health risks so that you can keep them safe and healthy. You can bring up any concerns about development, behavior, sleep, eating, or getting along with family members or friends. A teamwork approach to the relationship between parents and pediatricians helps to ensure all your child’s health needs are met.
Immunizations are some of the best means of protecting children against contagious, preventable diseases. They create protection from diseases by using small amounts of a killed or weakened germ that causes the disease to stimulate the immune system to react as if there were a real infection. Then, the child’s body fights off the “infection” and remembers the germ so it can fight it if it ever enters the body later. Talk to your pediatrician about what vaccine your child should receive, and at what age.
Did you know that cavities are one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood in the United States? And, if they are untreated, they can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning. Kids who have poor oral health often miss more school and receive lower grades than children who have healthy teeth. The good news is that cavities are preventable with good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist.
Regular dental exams can help protect your child’s oral health and give your child’s dentist a chance to detect problems early, when they are most treatable. Fluoride varnish can prevent about a third of cavities in baby teeth, and children who brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste every day also have fewer cavities. Dental sealants are also a great way to prevent dental cavities. Applying dental sealants to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth can prevent 80% of cavities.
After the exam, the dentist or hygienists will discuss your child’s oral health with you, including their risk of tooth decay, other oral health concerns, and preventive measures you can take to improve and protect your child’s oral health. By consulting health professionals about the health of your child, you can work together as a team to make sure your child is as healthy as they can be.