At our practice, we’ve seen firsthand how much of a difference early oral health care can make in a child’s life.

That’s why today we’re here to talk about something that every parent in Lafayette and surrounding areas should know about: the importance of early oral developmental screenings for your child’s oral and overall health. (Hint: it’s not just about checking teeth for cavities!)

What Are Oral Developmental Screenings?

A pediatrician keeps track of your little one’s milestones and development as they age. Similarly, a pediatric dentist needs to do the same for your child’s oral growth.  It’s not just about teeth.

We’re talking about feeding, speech, and airway screenings – all the stuff that plays a big role in your child’s quality of life and wellbeing.

Now, you might be thinking: “My kid seems fine. Do we really need to bother with all this?” The answer is a resounding yes!

Even if everything seems to be fine on the surface, there could be underlying issues that only a trained eye can spot. That’s where these screenings come in.

They aren’t just about stopping problems before they start. They’re also about helping your child grow and develop in the best way possible.

What Pediatric Feeding, Speech, and Airway Screenings Can Reveal

We’ve seen our fair share of little ones with big challenges. Many of these issues could have been caught and dealt with much earlier if the child had undergone oral developmental screenings.

Feeding Issues

Early screenings can help identify feeding difficulties that might otherwise go unnoticed. Conditions such as tongue ties can make it hard for your baby to get the nutrition they need. This can lead to poor weight gain and slow growth, in addition to symptoms like painful colic and reflux.

We have seen older children have trouble with gagging repeatedly on certain foods, because a high, narrow palate was preventing them from making a proper seal to swallow food effectively.

If caught earlier in life, while the child’s oro-facial features were still actively growing, all of these conditions could have been prevented.

Read Also: Tongue-Tie in Infants and Young Children: Signs to Look Out For

Speech Delays and Difficulties

There are many adverse anatomical conditions that can contribute to delayed speech development, such as a restricted tongue or high palate.

Down the road, it can be challenging for your little one to express themselves and communicate clearly, such as pronouncing certain sounds (‘th’,’ z’, and ‘r’, for instance) if not properly addressed.

Early screenings can help us pinpoint these issues and get your child the support they need.

Airway Problems

Enlarged tonsils, low-tongue posture, and sleep-disordered breathing, for example, can lead to a range of problems, from poor sleep to behavioral challenges.

We have seen teenagers have trouble concentrating in school for years, only to find out they have been getting poor sleep due to a narrow airway.

Early screenings can catch these signs in a timely manner, to guide your child’s airway development properly and lead to an overall better quality of life.

When to Schedule Your Child’s Screenings

When it comes to your child’s oral developmental screenings, the earlier you start, the better. Ideally, you’ll want to have these screenings done during your child’s dental visits before they turn one.

Why so soon? Because catching potential issues early gives you and your healthcare provider the best chance to intervene with anticipatory growth guidance.

It’s important to note that these conditions often don’t occur in isolation, and multiple issues may be present simultaneously.

This can make diagnosis and treatment more complex, requiring a multifaceted approach that could include various therapies such as speech therapy, myofunctional therapy, or even a referral to other specialists.

In addition, not all developmental concerns are straightforward, and some may require more extensive evaluation and ongoing support.

The Bottom Line

You have the power to give your child a strong foundation, so don’t hesitate to book those early screenings with your local pediatric dentist.

If you’re looking for pediatric feeding, speech, and airway screening services in Lafayette, LA, or the surrounding areas like Youngsville, Breaux Bridge, or Carencro, our team at Lafayette Pediatric Dentistry is here to help.

Our goal is to educate families in Lafayette and the surrounding areas to ensure they are well-informed and equipped with the knowledge necessary to support their children’s health and development.

Click here to learn more about our pediatric screening services, or request an appointment with us now and give your child the best chance for a healthy start!