The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends by your child’s first birthday they should have had a visit to the dentist. It is important for your child’s new teeth (erupting at six and twelve months of age) receive appropriate dental care. This ensures proper oral hygiene habits right from the beginning.
Your child’s first visit to the dentist should be enjoyable. Children are not born with a fear of the dentist however, they can fear the unknown. Our office makes sure to use gentle, non-frightening words to describe each treatment. We do our best to ensure that you and your child feel at ease the moment you enter our office. The more we inform you about the first visit, the better you will feel.
We also suggest that parents take some time to prepare their child for their first and ongoing dental visits. There are a number of good children’s books that parents and children can read together the weeks leading up to a dental exam to help a child get familiar with what to expect and to ease their fears. See our book suggestions at the bottom of this page! There are also a few suggestions of books that would help a child deal with the feelings associated with losing their first tooth.
Getting to know your teeth can be fun!
When New Teeth Arrive
Within six to twelve months your child’s first primary or baby teeth will start erupting, and will go on until about age three. During this process your child’s gums will be sore and tender. To help ease the discomfort, we suggest that you soothe the gums using a clean wet finger or cool, wet cloth across them. Teething rings are also available for your child. You can expect a total of 20 primary teeth when your child has finished teething.
Be sure to examine your child’s teeth during the erupting process. You will want to look for lines and discoloration that may be caused by decay. Keep in mind that sugary foods and liquids can cause bacteria that are detrimental to baby teeth if it is left to form plaque and decay, so make sure children is brushing after every meal.
Your child’s baby teeth will fall out at various times through their childhood. At age six adult teeth will begin to erupt, and will continue until age 21. Adults have 28 permanent teeth (32, including wisdom teeth).
Keep in mind that these age ranges are averages. If your baby has teeth coming in a little late, do not be concerned. Consult with us or your chosen dentist for a professional opinion on your child’s oral development.
Adopting Healthy Oral Hygiene Habits
Children should be coached and encouraged from a young age in the appropriate way to care for their teeth.
- Brush twice daily for at least 2 minutes. Use gentle circular motions to clean all sides of the teeth, gums, tongue and roof of the mouth. A parent should perform or supervise brushing until the child is able to rinse and spit out excess toothpaste on their own.
- Toothpaste use should be limited to the appropriate amount. Under 2 yrs of age only a smear of toothpaste and 2+yrs a pea-sized amount can be used. It is important that children are not allowed to swallow toothpaste.
- Flossing should begin when 2 teeth touch. Floss at least once every day to remove plaque and build-up under the gums where brushing can’t reach. *TIP!* Some children find it easier to floss with a loop while they are learning. Tie 10 inches of dental floss into a circle to make it easier for small hands and fingers to grasp.
The products available today for children’s oral health can help get children excited about learning to take care of their teeth and make a parent’s job of instilling good dental health habits a little easier. Beyond being sized for small hands and mouths, kids tooth brushes and toothpastes often include popular children’s cartoon characters and bright colors to capture attention. Make brushing a fun activity and not a chore!
Preventing Tooth Decay With Regular Checkups
When sugars are left in your mouth it turns into acid, which can break down your teeth and causes tooth decay. Tooth decay in children is a high risk simply because they do not always practice good oral hygiene habits. Regular dental visits along with proper brushing and flossing habits help keep tooth decay away.
We also recommend limiting night-time feedings for babies once the teeth erupt from the gums to reduce the chances of cavity development.
Your child should visit the dentist every six months for regular cleanings and checkups. Along with the cleanings fluoride treatments are recommended for optimal tooth strength. Tooth sealants are also recommended because they “seal” the crevices and grooves in your child’s teeth, preventing decay from forming. Sealants can last for several years but will be monitored at your child’s checkups.
Good Children’s Books
- The Tooth Book: A guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums by Edward Miller
- My Dentist, My Friend by P. K. Hallinan
- Truman’s Loose Tooth by Kristine Wurm
- Brush, Brush, Brush! By Alicia Padron
- Brush your teeth, Max and Millie by Felicity Brooks
- Tooth Trouble by Jane Clarke
- Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer