WHEN SHOULD MY BABY SEE THE DENTIST?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children see the dentist by their first birthday. Reasons for this include screening for cavities, discussing proper oral hygiene techniques, reviewing habits such as thumb sucking and pacifier use, discussing good diet choices for the first three years, and screening for lip and tongue ties.
MEETING YOU & YOUR CHILD
We will begin your child’s first appointment by getting to know you and your little one a little better. We have a special, non-clinical room we see babies in to help them feel more comfortable. We will spend time with you discussing any concerns or questions you may have and providing anticipatory guidance. We will assess your child’s risk level for cavities and will provide you customized information to set your child on a course of good dental health.
ORAL HEALTH ROUTINE FOR BABIES
Clean Gums After Feedings
Even before your child gets their first tooth, it’s important to clean their gums between feedings. You can simply wipe their gums with a clean cloth to remove any remaining milk or formula. Once your child’s first teeth come in, you can switch to using a soft-bristled infant toothbrush to clean their gums along with any budding teeth.
Cleaning Your Baby’s Teeth
When your child’s first tooth comes in, you should begin brushing using a soft-bristled infant toothbrush and water. Choose a baby toothbrush with a large handle and small tip. We like to do an assessment of a child’s risk for cavities before recommending when to start using fluoride toothpaste.
Wean Off Bottles
Children are usually ready to be weaned off bottles and use cups when they can sit up by themselves. Infants can start trying to use a cup as early as 6 months, though it’s more common to wean children and switch to cups between the ages of 12-18 months. Weaning off bottles and switching to solid foods is essential for your child’s oral health and overall health.
Night-time Nursing And Feedings
Night-time nursing and feeding should be thought of as a meal. There should be a start and a finish. Babies should never be put to bed with a bottle of milk in their bed. Additionally, for babies who are nursing, the baby should be detached. Nursing at will should be avoided just as snacking at will should be avoided for older children.
Additional Tips To Keep Baby Healthy
Never put your baby to bed with anything in his or her bottle other than water. If nursing, try to avoid nursing at will or leaving your baby attached after feeding. Even breast milk has carbohydrates that feed the cavity-causing germs.
Do not share utensils, kiss your baby on the mouth, or clean his or her pacifier in your mouth. Additionally maintain good dental health yourself. Studies have shown that children get the cavity-causing germs from their primary caregiver.
Avoid juice. It is high in sugar and is acidic. If you do provide some fruit juice, dilute it with water and only give it with meals. A sippy cup that is used between meals should only contain water and plain milk.
Set a good example for your baby. Children learn much by observation and by mimicking their primary caregivers. Make sure to brush and floss in front of your child.
Visit us every six months. Regular dental appointments are essential for keeping your child healthy. Having your child see us regularly will help us spot any problems early and gives us the opportunity to provide you with age specific guidance for your child.
The current recommendation of the AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) is that you take your child to the dentist for an appointment whenever their first tooth erupts or when they reach the age of 1, whichever happens first. While this may seem early, seeing a dentist regularly and establishing a “dental home” early has a number of great benefits.
A “dental home” is the dental office where your child will receive the majority of their dental care as they grow. There are a few reasons why a dental home is important. First, your child will be able to develop a real, meaningful relationship with their dentist, and with the staff at our office. They will feel more safe and comfortable during their appointment, and become more familiar with the basics of dentistry. This can help reduce feelings of discomfort, fear, and anxiety, and prevent them from developing dental anxiety later in life.
In addition, if your child sees the same dentist regularly, they will receive more productive dental care. Their pediatric dentist will understand the unique oral health challenges that your child may face, and will be able to take steps to provide specialized care. For example, if your child is cavity-prone and develops tooth decay at a young age, their doctor may recommend a more diligent at-home oral care routine, along with regular fluoride treatments and/or dental sealants.
Yes. X-rays are safe for children of all ages. The latest x-ray technology uses minimal radiation, and all patients are given protective equipment to reduce their exposure. That said, your child will only need to get x-rays if their dentist believes they may have a hidden dental issue that can’t be detected with a visual exam alone.
Baby teeth fall out naturally, so why is it so important to keep your child’s baby teeth healthy? Well, decayed and damaged baby teeth can be very painful and uncomfortable, and lead to serious oral health complications, just like adult teeth.
But beyond this, the baby teeth provide the “path” that the adult teeth will follow when they begin to erupt. If your child’s baby teeth are decayed or they lose a baby tooth earlier than they’re supposed to, this could lead to further oral development issues as your child grows.