A child's visits to the dentist should be enjoyable! Children are not born with a natural fear of the dentist, but they can fear the unknown. Our office makes a special effort to use pleasant, non-frightening, simple words to describe each treatment. We want you and your child to feel at ease from the moment your family arrives at our office. The more you and your child know about the first visit, the better you will feel.
Children should visit the dentist between their 4th and 5th birthday. It is important that your child's teeth receive proper dental care and benefit from proper oral hygiene habits right from the beginning.
When New Teeth Arrive
Your child's first primary or baby teeth will begin to erupt between the ages of six and 12 months, and will continue to erupt until about age three. When teething, your child's gums often feel tender and sore. To help alleviate this discomfort and soothe their gums, we recommend:
- Rubbing the gums with firm pressure using a clean finger
- Chill a wet washcloth for your baby to suck and chew on
- Offer a plain or chilled teething ring
- Offer a chilled pacifier
- If eating, offer chilled (not frozen) fruit
When your child has finished teething, you can expect a total of 20 primary teeth. The primary teeth are shed at various times throughout childhood, usually prompted by the slow arrival of permanent teeth. Permanent teeth begin erupting at age six, and continue until age 21 with the arrival of wisdom teeth. Adults have 28 permanent teeth (or 32 including wisdom teeth).
Adopting Healthy Oral Hygiene Habits
As your child's teeth erupt, examine them routinely for lines and discolorations that may suggest decay. Sugary foods and liquids can attack a new tooth. Teach your child to brush after feeding or eating. We recommend brushing four times a day for optimal oral hygiene: after breakfast, lunch, dinner, and at bedtime.
When a baby's tooth erupts, parents should brush the tooth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. For children younger than two, do not use fluoride toothpaste unless advised to do so. Flossing is also a part of good oral hygiene habits, and our doctor will discuss with you the right time to start flossing. If you notice signs of decay, contact our dentist immediately.
Preventing Tooth Decay with Regular Checkups
For children, we recommend:
- Dental cleanings and check ups with fluoride treatments twice a year
- Tooth sealants to "seal" the deep grooves in your child's teeth
- Proper brushing and flossing after each meal and at bedtime
- Minimizing sugary drinks and foods
Children are at high risk for tooth decay when they do not practice regular, good oral hygiene habits. Tooth decay is caused by sugars left in your mouth that turn into an acid, which can break down your teeth. Sealants help prevent decay from forming in these hard-to-reach areas. Sealants last for several years and will be monitored at your child's regular checkups.