Early Dental Care
According to the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a child’s first dental check-up should occur between the ages of 6 months to one year. Informing your child about their first dental visit is very helpful. At your child’s first visit, we will review the medical/dental health history form with you. Your child will meet the dentist and have everything explained to him/her.
We encourage parents to accompany their child during their visit. This gives you an opportunity to see us working with your child and allows us to discuss dental findings and treatment needs directly with you. A thorough head and neck examination and evaluation of the teeth and gums are performed. Radiographs (x-rays) are taken only if necessary. If no treatment is needed, the teeth will be cleaned and a fluoride treatment will be provided.
We look forward to meeting you and your child for your first appointment!
Importance and Care of Primary Teeth (Baby Teeth)
Baby teeth, also called primary teeth, are shed, but they are still very important for a number of reasons. Children need strong, healthy baby teeth in order to chew food properly, to pronounce words correctly, and to maintain space in the jaw for the permanent teeth. That is why it is important to take good care of the primary teeth by keeping them clean and healthy.
Even before the first tooth erupts, your child’s gums should be wiped gently with a wet cloth or gauze after every feeding. At the appearance of the first tooth, begin brushing your child’s teeth with water. Children older than 2 years should be supervised during brushing to ensure that only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste is used, and that the toothpaste is spit out rather than swallowed, and they rinse with water afterward.
Primary teeth, if not kept clean and healthy, can develop decay. This decay can lead to infection, which can damage permanent teeth. Tooth decay in infants and young children occurs when the teeth undergo frequent and extended exposure to liquids containing sugar. To keep your child’s teeth cavity free and avoid oral pain, do not allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing anything other than water. Milk, formula, and juice, when given to a child right before they fall asleep, can remain on the teeth and in the mouth and cause tooth decay. If your child needs a pacifier between feedings or at bedtime, give them a clean pacifier. Do not give your child a pacifier dipped in honey or sugar.
Early Dental Care FAQs
When should we use toothpaste for our child, and how much should we use?
Non-fluoridated toothpaste can be used at any time as it is safe to swallow. Fluoridated toothpaste should be introduced when the child is able to spit out the majority of it after brushing. This is usually around 3 years of age on average. At that time, just use a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste (pea-sized shape), that is all you need. You can even slowly transition to it by using fluoridated toothpaste at night and non-fluoridated in the morning.
What should I use to clean my child’s teeth?
When there are only a few teeth in the mouth, it is perfectly fine to use a wet washcloth. Once the molars in the back show up, after age 1, a soft-bristled toothbrush is best with a tiny amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste. Every child can be different, so it is important to consult your dentist.
What should I do if my child has a toothache?
Toothaches happen for a lot of reasons, some less complicated than others. When this happens, be sure to consult with your dentist to get a personalized evaluation completed in order to know what to do.
How safe are dental x-rays?
Dental x-rays are safe and involve minimal exposure to radiation. Furthermore, we use digital dental x-rays which require even less exposure. In the past, 28 x-rays were taken to evaluate a full adult mouth. For children, we often take 4. We also mitigate exposure by placing a lead apron with a thyroid collar on children so the total exposure to radiation from 4 digital x-rays is similar to what you would get from a daily dose of radiation from a regular sunny day.
Can nursing or using a formula bottle at night cause decay?
Yes. This type of decay is often called Early Childhood Caries or Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. Breast milk and most formulas or milks you would buy in a store have sugars in them. Sugars are broken down by bacteria in the mouth that can cause tooth decay. It is important to clean your child’s teeth at night before they go to bed to prevent these sugars from causing cavities overnight. A simple swipe with a wet cloth after they are done is all it takes in most cases. Consult with your dentist to learn more about your child’s specific situation.