A child’s first visit to the dentist should be enjoyable and positive. The more you and your child know about the first visit, the better you will feel. Children are not born with a fear of the dentist, but they can fear the unknown. Our office makes a practice of using pleasant, non-frightening, simple words to describe your child’s first dental visit and treatment. We want you to feel at ease from the moment your family arrives at our office. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), children should visit the dentist by their first birthday. It is important that your child’s newly erupted teeth (erupting at 6-12 months of age) receive proper dental care and benefit from proper oral hygiene habits right from the beginning. To prepare for your child’s visit, we have created an activity kit to familiarize your child with their teeth and help them look forward to their dental visit.
Taking Care of Your Baby’s Teeth (and Future Teeth!)
Congratulations on the arrival of your baby! Are you prepared for the arrival of your baby’s first tooth? Follow these guidelines and your baby will be on her way to a lifetime of healthy smiles!
Caring for Gums
Even before your baby’s first tooth appears (or, in dental jargon, “”erupts””), a baby’s gums can benefit from your careful attention. After breast- or bottle-feeding, wrap one finger with a clean, damp washcloth or piece of gauze and gently rub it across your baby’s gum tissue. This practice both clears your little one’s mouth of any fragments of food and begins the process of building a good habit of daily oral care.
Baby’s First Tooth
When that first tooth makes an entrance, it’s time to upgrade to a baby toothbrush. There are usually two options: a long-handled toothbrush that you and your baby can hold at the same time, and a finger-puppet-like brush that fits over the tip of your pointer finger. In each case the bristles are soft and few. At this stage, the AAPD recommends a ‘smear’ of fluoride. If your little one doesn’t react well to the introduction of a toothbrush, don’t give up; switch back to a damp washcloth for a few months, then try the toothbrush again. During the teething process your child will want to chew on just about anything; a baby toothbrush with a teether can become a favorite toy during this period.
Brushing with Toothpaste
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists just recently changed their guidelines for the introduction of fluoride into toothpaste. From the first tooth to age two, a parent should brush with a soft bristled toothbrush using a ‘smear’ of fluoride toothpaste. From two to five years old, parents should brush with a soft bristled toothbrush and a ‘pea-sized’ amount of fluoridated toothpaste. From the beginning, have your little one practice spitting the toothpaste out after brushing, to prepare her for fluoride toothpaste.
When New Teeth Arrive
Your child’s first tooth erupts between ages 6-12 months and the remainder of their 20 primary or “”baby”” teeth typically erupt by age 3. During this time, gums may feel tender and sore, causing your child to feel irritable. 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. Your child’s primary teeth are shed at various times throughout childhood, and their permanent teeth begin erupting at age 6 and continue until age 21. Adults have 28 permanent teeth, or 32 including wisdom teeth.