Children are not born with a natural fear of the dentist, but they can fear the unknown. That’s why we believe that a child’s first visit to the dentist should be enjoyable. We work hard to make sure that you and your child feel at ease from the moment your family arrives at our office, and we make a special effort to use pleasant, non-frightening, simple words to describe each treatment. The more you and your child know about the first visit, the better you both will feel.
Did you know?
It is important that your child’s newly-erupted teeth (erupting at six and 12 months of age) receive proper dental care and the benefits of proper oral hygiene habits right from the beginning. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children should have their initial dental visit before their first birthday.
When New Teeth Arrive
Your child’s first baby teeth (also called primary teeth) will start to erupt between the ages of 6 and 12 months and continue until about age 3. During this time, your child’s gums may feel tender and sore. To help ease their pain, we recommend that you soothe the gums by rubbing across them with a clean finger or a cool, wet cloth. You may also choose to make use of a teething ring. When your child has finished teething, they’ll have a total of 20 primary teeth.
Your child will lose their baby teeth at various times throughout childhood. Permanent teeth begin erupting around age 6 and continue until age 21. In all, adults have 28 permanent teeth (32 if you include wisdom teeth.)
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Adopting Healthy Oral Hygiene Habits
As your child’s teeth erupt, be sure to examine them every two weeks to look for lines and discoloration that may be caused by decay. Sugary foods and liquids can attack a new tooth, so make sure that your child brushes after feeding or eating. When new teeth are coming in,we recommend brushing four times a day for optimal oral hygiene: after breakfast, after lunch, after dinner and at bedtime.
Brushing can be fun, and your child should brush as soon as the first tooth arrives. Fluoridated toothpaste is recommended for all children starting at tooth eruption, regardless of caries risk. Use a smear (the size of a grain of rice) of toothpaste up to age 3, then upgrade to a pea-sized amount. We recommend dispensing toothpaste for young children and assisting (or at least supervising) with brushing as they get more independent.
Flossing is also a part of good oral hygiene habits, and your doctor will discuss with you the right time to start flossing. If you notice signs of decay, contact your dentist immediately.
Preventing Tooth Decay with Regular Checkups
When sugars are left in your mouth, they turn into an acid that can break down your teeth, causing tooth decay. Children and adolescents are at high risk for tooth decay for a simple reason: many of them do not practice regular, good oral hygiene habits. Proper brushing and flossing routines, combined with regular dental visits, help keep tooth decay away.
Your child should visit the dentist every six months for regular dental cleanings and checkups. We also recommend fluoride treatments along with cleanings to keep teeth their strongest. Tooth sealants are also recommended because they “seal” the deep grooves in your child’s teeth, preventing decay from forming in these hard-to-reach areas. Sealants last for several years, but will be monitored at your child’s regular checkups.