When should I first take my child to the dentist?
Teeth should receive proper dental care right from the beginning. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children should visit the dentist by their first birthday.
When will my child's teeth begin to arrive?
Your child’s primary, or baby teeth, will begin to erupt between the ages of 6-to-12 months, and will continue to erupt until your child is about 3-years-old. When your child has finished teething, he or she will have 20 primary teeth in total.
Though baby teeth will be lost at various times throughout childhood, it is important to keep them healthy. Preventing cavities and gum disease is important for you child’s overall wellness. In addition, baby teeth serve the important role of acting as placeholders for permanent teeth; those teeth will begin to erupt around the time the child is 6-years-old.
What can I do to alleviate the discomfort of tooth eruption?
As your child develops teeth, his or her gums will likely feel tender and sore. You can sooth the gums by rubbing a clean finger or a cool, wet cloth across them. You may also give your child a teething ring. Additionally, depending on the age of your child, over the counter oral pain reducers, such as children's Orabase can be used – do first, though, consult your dentist or physician prior to using.
What healthy habits should we focus on?
Be sure to brush – or have your child brush – your child’s teeth after feeding or eating. For optimal oral hygiene, we recommend brushing four times a day – after breakfast, lunch, dinner and right before bedtime. Sugary foods and liquids, along with any remaining food particles, can attack the new tooth. As such, it’s important to clean the teeth as soon as possible!
When a baby’s tooth erupts, you should brush the tooth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of children's toothpaste. For children younger than 2, do not use fluoride toothpaste unless advised to do so by your dentist or another healthcare professional. When the child is old enough to begin to understand, review proper tooth brushing procedures. Flossing is also a part of good oral hygiene habits; talk to your dentist about the right time to start flossing.
Additionally, be sure to examine your child’s teeth every couple of weeks. You should look for lines and discoloration; these may be caused by decay. If you notice possible decay, contact your dentist right away to set up an appointment.
Do regular checkups help prevent tooth decay?
Yes. Tooth decay is caused by sugars left in the mouth that turn into an acid. The acid can then breakdown the teeth. Children are at especially 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 your child avoid tooth decay.
Your child should visit the dentist every six months for regular dental cleanings and checkups. We recommend fluoride treatments twice a year along with cleanings to keep teeth strong. Tooth sealants are also recommended because they cover the deep grooves in your child’s teeth, preventing decay from forming in hard-to-reach areas. Sealants last for several years and will be monitored during regular checkups.
Keep it Fun
Learning about teeth can be fun for a child! Add to that fun by downloading our dynamic dental fun kit: http://media.sesamehost.com/docs/dynamite-dental-fun-kit.pdf