Pediatric DentistryWhen Should My Child First Visit The Dentist?

As early as six months, when the baby’s first tooth appears. A first tooth’s appearance is an excellent time to schedule a well-baby dental evaluation. At that time, we’ll diagnose and help prevent any future oral disorders. We can also answer any questions you have about caring for your child’s teeth.

What Will Happen At The First Visit?
After making your child feel comfortable, we will examine their mouth. The examination will include the teeth, gums, tongue, lips and roof of the mouth. Depending upon your child’s age, number of teeth present and ability to cooperate, we may order a few x-rays to detect cavities if decay is suspected. X-rays are also helpful to determine normal development of permanent teeth. We may also clean your child’s teeth and apply fluoride.

How Should I Prepare My Child for the First Visit?
Your attitude can convey the message that dental visits are pleasant adventures. Emphasize the attention that your child will get while in the chair. Try to schedule the appointment for the time of day when your child is most rested and cooperative. To prepare your child, read a story together about a trip to the dentist. Or, play dentist and take turns looking into each other’s mouth with a flashlight.

How Can I keep My Child’s Teeth Healthy?
It is important to begin a daily oral care routine for your child before the first tooth appears. After each feeding, wipe your child’s gums with a warm, wet cloth or a small gauze pad to remove excess food and bacteria. As soon as the first teeth appear, brush them with a small, soft-bristled brush moistened with warm water.

When teeth begin to touch each other, add daily flossing to the routine. With adult supervision, most children are able to brush their own teeth by the age of four, however, we recommend assisting your child at least once a day to ensure a thorough job. You should continue to monitor their oral care throughout childhood. Remember that with your own healthy oral care habits, you can be an important role model for your child.

What Else Do I Need to Know About Brushing?
Have your child brush with a pea-sized dot of fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride will help strengthen the teeth against decay. Your child will go through toothbrushes quickly, so check the brush often and replace it when it is worn out. Have the child hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and brush gently back and forth with short strokes. Make sure to brush the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of each tooth. Teach your child to finish by brushing the tongue to freshen breath and remove bacteria.

Why Are Primary (Baby) Teeth Important?
Primary teeth are very important to your child’s development for a number of reasons. They encourage the development of the jaw bone and they reserve the space required for the permanent teeth that will follow. They also enable your child to chew solid food and assist in speech development. Moreover, they contribute to your child’s positive feelings about his or her appearance and help build confidence.

How Can I Protect My Child’s Primary (Baby) Teeth?
Baby bottle tooth decay is the leading cause of decay and tooth loss in very young children. This condition usually occurs when a baby is allowed to nurse from a bottle of milk, formula or fruit juice continuously at nap time or bedtime. You can help prevent it by always cleaning your infant’s moth and teeth after nursing, and by giving your infant only water in a bottle or a pacifier at bedtime. You will also safeguard the health of your baby’s teeth by weaning your child from the bottle at one year of age.

What Else Can I Do To Safeguard My Child’s Smile?
A balanced diet is essential for a child’s development. Teeth, bones and soft tissue of the mouth will benefit from a regular variety of healthy foods. Your child’s diet should include foods from all the five major food groups:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Breads, cereals and grains
  • Milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Meat, poultry and fish and their alternatives, such as beans, eggs and nuts.

Discourage sugary and starchy snacks-provide bite-sized fresh vegetables instead.

What If My Child Damages Or Knocks Out A Tooth?
An active child may chip or loose a tooth completely. Call us as soon as possible after the accident occurs. If the tooth is chipped, take the broken piece with you as we may be able to bond the piece back onto the tooth. If a healthy permanent tooth is completely knocked out, keep the tooth moist in milk or water and get to the dentist immediately. If you do so within the first hour, in most cases the tooth can be replanted successfully. Do not wrap the tooth in tissue or gauze or let it dry.

If the tooth is a primary (baby) tooth, we may insert a space maintainer to keep the space open for the permanent tooth.

Is There Other Prevention To Consider As The Child Gets Older?
At the appearance of your child’s first permanent molars usually about age six, you should consider sealants to protect you child’s back teeth to help “seal out” decay. In some cases, we might also recommend applying sealants to primary teeth as well. We will apply a thin plastic coating to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. If your local water supply does not contain fluoride, we usually recommend a fluoride mouth rinse or other sources of extra fluoride.