A child's first visit to the dentist should be enjoyable. Children are not born with a natural fear of the dentist, but they can fear the unknown. Our office makes a special effort to use pleasant, non-frightening, simple words to describe each treatment. We want you and your child to feel at ease from the moment your family arrives at our office. The more you and your child know about the first visit, the better you will feel.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends...
Children should visit the dentist by their first birthday. It is important that your child's newly-erupted teeth (erupting at six and 12 months of age) receive proper dental care and benefit from proper oral hygiene habits right from the beginning.
Getting to know your teeth is fun!
When New Teeth Arrive
Your child's first primary or baby teeth usually begin to erupt between the ages of six and 12 months, and will continue to erupt until about age two or three. During this time, your child's gums may feel tender and sore. 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 teething ring. When your child has finished teething, you can expect a total of 20 primary teeth.
Your child's primary teeth are shed at various times throughout childhood. Permanent teeth begin erupting at age six, and continue until age 21. Adults usually have 28 permanent teeth (32 if you include 3rd molars, also known as "wisdom teeth").
Adopting Healthy Oral Hygiene Habits
As your child's teeth erupt, be sure to examine them regularly. This can be done when you are taking your turn brushing for them. Look for lines and discoloration that may be signs of decay. Remember that sugary foods and liquids can attack a new tooth, so take care that your child brushes twice daily for two minutes each time.
Brushing can be fun, and you should begin brushing teeth as soon as the first tooth arrives. When a baby's tooth erupts, parents should brush the tooth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a tiny "smear" size amount of toothpaste.
Flossing is also a part of good oral hygiene habits, and your doctor will discuss with you the right time to start flossing. If you notice signs of decay, contact your dentist immediately.
Preventing Tooth Decay with Regular Checkups
Tooth decay is caused by bacterial acids that result when sugars are left in your mouth, subsequently destroying the enamel shell of a tooth over time. Children are at high risk for tooth decay for a simple reason: many children and adolescents do not practice regular, good oral hygiene habits. Proper brushing and flossing routines combined with regular dental visits help keep tooth decay away.
Your child should visit the dentist at least every six months for regular dental cleanings and checkups. We recommend professionally applied topical fluoride treatments twice a year along with cleanings to keep teeth their strongest. Tooth sealants are also usually recommended because they "seal" the deep grooves in your child's teeth, reducing the likelihood of decay forming in these susceptible pit and fissure areas. Sealants often last for several years, and will be monitored at your child's regular checkups to determine if they are still in good repair.