A child's first visit to the dentist should be enjoyable and positive. The more you and your child know about the first visit, the better you will feel. Children are not born with a fear of the dentist, but they can fear the unknown. Our office makes a practice of using pleasant, non-frightening, simple words to describe your child's first dental visit and treatment. We want you to feel at ease from the moment your family arrives at our office.
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), children should visit the dentist by their first birthday. It is important that your child's newly-erupted teeth (erupting at 6-12 months of age) receive proper dental care and benefit from proper oral hygiene habits right from the beginning.
To prepare for your child's visit, we have created an activity kit to familiarize your child with their teeth and help them look forward to their dental visit.
» Getting to know your teeth is fun! Get comfortable with your teeth with our Dynamite Dental Fun Kit.
When New Teeth Arrive
Your baby’s first primary tooth usually erupts at about 6 months of age. But there are normal variations in the timing of eruption; some babies are "early" and some are "late" but by age 3 most children have all 20 of their baby teeth. While these teeth are erupting, gums may feel tender and sore causing your little one to be irritable. To help alleviate this discomfort, we recommend that you soothe the gums by rubbing a clean finger or a cool, wet cloth across them. You may also choose to make use of a cool teething ring.
Adopting Healthy Oral Hygiene Habits
We suggest start early! If you begin a healthy hygiene routine when your little one is an infant then he is more likely to keep those good habits for life. You can clean his mouth even before teeth grow in with a wet washcloth and then switch to a baby toothbrush and a "smear" toothpaste once those first teeth make their appearance. As a toddler, your child can start to learn how to brush, with you guiding him; then follow up with a thorough brushing from you. As your child gets older, your dentist or hygienist will show you how to floss.
Make it a habit to avoid allowing your child to nurse continuously from the breast or from a bottle of milk, formula or juice during naps and at night. If a bottle is used during those times for comfort, make sure it contains only water.
Brushing: Step 1
Place your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to your gum.
Brushing: Step 2
Brush gently in a circular motion.
Brushing: Step 3
Brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each tooth.
Brushing: Step 4
Use the tip of your brush for the inner surface of your front teeth.
Flossing: Step 1
Wind about 18 inches of floss around your fingers as shown. Most of it should be wrapped around one finger, and as the floss is used, the other finger takes it up.
Flossing: Step 2
Use your thumbs and forefingers to guide about one inch of floss between your teeth.
Flossing: Step 3
Holding the floss tightly, gently saw the floss between your teeth. Then curve the floss into a C-shape against one tooth and gently slide it beneath your gums.
Flossing: Step 4
Slide the floss up and down, repeating for each tooth.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is preventable. Tooth decay is a multi-factorial disease; therefore, multiple factors must be addressed to prevent it. There are 4 main factors involved:
- Bacterial plaque – daily brushing and flossing to remove the plaque will help reduce decay.
- Fluoride – use fluoride to strengthen the teeth - brush with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day, receive fluoride treatments at your dentist’s office and use other fluoride products as your dentist recommends.
- Sealants – applying sealant to the biting surfaces of molars will prevent decay in the "nooks and crannies" of those teeth.
- Diet – cavities are the result of not only WHAT your child eats, but HOW OFTEN he eats it. Snack no more than twice a day. Pick nutritious snacks. Avoid juice, soda, sports drinks and flavored drinks.
Your child should visit the dentist every 6 months for regular dental cleanings and checkups. We recommend fluoride treatments twice a year along with cleanings to keep teeth their strongest. Tooth sealants are also recommended because they "seal" the deep grooves in your child's teeth, preventing decay from forming in these hard-to-reach areas. Sealants last for several years, but will be monitored at your regular checkups.