At what age should a dentist first examine a child?
When I was in dental school almost 50 years ago, that age was 3, when all of the baby teeth were in the mouth. Now that age is from 6 months to no later than 1 year.
I am recommending that the best age is at birth for the following reasons:
1. Structural head/jaw/neck issues. In our Lancaster research we saw infants with narrow V-shaped palates. For many, their palates amazingly widened after just a few minutes of therapy. We also saw babies who had nursing issues, mostly caused by TMJ strain.
2. Tongue Tie/ Lip Tie issues. If the Gillespie Approach is done at birth, we believe some of these revisions may be prevented.
3. Fascial throat issues. The Gillespie Approach focuses on the trachea (breathing), vocal cords (speaking), hyoid (swallowing), and vagus nerve (many functions). The inability to suck/swallow/breathe well can lead to failure to thrive.
4. Airway issues. The nasopharynx, oropharynx, and hypopharynx need proper opening for air passage. Orthodontists are discovering that airway issues can start at birth. For example, a retruded jaw, where the newborn mandible is pushed too far posteriorly, can create a narrow airway.
I believe that dentistry needs to expand its view of oral health with newborns having their first dental visit as soon as possible. Early detection/correction can prevent a lifetime of oropharyngeal issues.