The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) now recommend that your child see a dentist upon eruption of their first tooth, or by age one. By seeing children at an early age, we are able to examine children to make sure that all dental structures are developing normally. More importantly it allows us to speak with parents about diet and hygiene and to discuss prevention. Children that begin early with their dental care tend to have lower rates of decay because the child is less averse to the dental setting, parents are better educated, and early intervention (when necessary) can be accomplished, so areas of concern do not become major problems later.
Just as each child is different, each “first dental visit” is different. Every child presents with different dental needs and different cognitive levels. Your first visit is an important time to examine your child’s teeth, discuss diet and habits, and establish a “dental home” for your family. For those children with dental disease, it is a time to discuss if and what are the best treatment options for your child so they can have visits that are positive and not help to perpetuate fear and anxiety.
Baby teeth (primary teeth) are important because they not only aid in function of the oral cavity through chewing and speech development, but they also help to hold space for the developing permanent teeth. Excellent dental care helps to aid the developing oral cavity prepare for the emergence of the permanent teeth.
When primary teeth become decayed, they can lead to dental pain and abscessed teeth. Studies have shown that children with severe decay miss more days of school and have a harder time concentrating in school. It is important for children to build strong preventive habits early on so that they may go on to have excellent dental hygiene as they mature.
A: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommend a child’s first visit by age 1. Early examination and preventive care will protect your child’s smile now and in the future.
A: The most important reason is to begin a thorough prevention program. Dental problems can begin early. A big concern is Early Childhood Caries (also know as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing caries). Your child risks severe decay from using a bottle during naps or at night or when they nurse continuously from the breast. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems. Children with healthy teeth chew food easily, learn to speak clearly, and smile with confidence. Start your child now on a lifetime of good dental habits.
A: Encourage your child to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday. Children should not fall asleep with a bottle. At-will nighttime breast-feeding should be avoided after the first primary (baby) teeth begins to erupt. Drinking juice from a bottle should be avoided. When juice is offered, it should be in a cup
A: Children should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age.
A: Thumb sucking is perfectly normal for infants; most stop by age 2. If your child does not, discourage it after age 4. Prolonged thumb sucking can create crowded, crooked teeth, or bite problems. Your pediatric dentist will be glad to suggest ways to address a prolonged thumb sucking habit.
A: The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush and water. Remember that most small children do not have the dexterity to brush their teeth effectively. Unless it is advised by your child’s pediatric dentist, do not use fluoridated toothpaste until age 2.
A: From six months to age 3, your child may have sore gums when teeth erupt. Many children like a clean teething ring, cool spoon, or cold wet washcloth. Some parents swear by a chilled ring; others simply rub the baby’s gums with a clean finger.