Eight too late to see dentist
Children should have their first dental visit before their first birthday, Irish dental experts suggest.
However, in Ireland, most parents wait until their child is eight to see the dentist, according to Dr John Walsh, Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry at Royal College of Surgeons.
At that stage, there can be substantial decay and damage to the teeth.
This damage can result in a number of issues for the child's teeth, including infection and swelling, which can often lead to discomfort, loss of sleep and difficulty in eating.
The problems can have a significant long-term impact on the growth and straightness of the permanent teeth.
This is because healthy first teeth guide the permanent teeth into their correct position as they grow, he added.
He pointed to a study showing poor oral health is significantly related to children's smiling patterns - so some children are not smiling as much due to the condition of their teeth.
Children who do not visit the dentist at an early age can experience significant setbacks in terms of dental health.
The fourth edition of Healthy Teeth for Life, a guide for child's dental health published by the Irish Dental Health Foundation and written by Dr Walsh, is available at dentalhealth.ie.
Health & Living