A child’s first visit to the dentist should be enjoyable. Our office makes a special effort to make our youngest patients feel comfortable. Dr. Daniels is not a specialist in pediatrics, but as a mom of 3, and a caring and knowledgeable person, she successfully treats most of the young children in our office.
We want you and your children 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.
During your child’s first visit we will
- Review dental and medical history forms
- Take and evaluate the digital records (90% less radiation than traditional radiographs) of your child’s teeth
- Clean and polish and apply fluoride to your child’s teeth
- Perform a thorough examination of your child’s teeth and gums to check for any signs of tooth decay or gingivitis
- Perform a thorough check of the soft tissues of your child’s head and neck
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children should visit the dentist by their first birthday. It is important that your child’s newly-erupted 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. During this time, your child’s gums may feel tender and sore. 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. When your child has finished teething, you can expect a total of 20 primary teeth.
Your child’s primary teeth are shed at various times throughout childhood. Permanent teeth begin erupting at age six, and continue until age 21. Adults have 32 permanent teeth including wisdom teeth.
Adopting Healthy Oral Hygiene Habits
As your child’s teeth erupt, be sure to examine them every two weeks, looking for lines and discoloration that may be caused by decay. Remember that sugary foods and liquids can attack a new tooth, so take care that you brush your baby’s teeth after feeding or eating and avoid milk pooling around your infant’s newly erupted teeth.
We recommend brushing four times a day for optimal oral hygiene: after breakfast, after lunch/ before nap time, after dinner, before bedtime.
You can begin cleaning your baby’s gums starting at birth. When baby’s teeth begin to erupt, caregivers should brush the child’s teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a “smear” of fluoridated toothpaste. For children aged 2-5, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends using a “pea sized” amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Flossing is an integral part of good oral hygiene habits, and you should floss your child’s teeth daily in addition to brushing.
Preventing Tooth Decay with Regular Checkups
Tooth decay is caused by sugars left in your mouth that turn into an acid, which can break down the teeth. Children are at high risk for tooth decay for a simple reason: many children and adolescents 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 recommend fluoride treatments twice a year 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. If you notice signs of decay, contact your dentist immediately.
Promoting Dental Health with Sealants
Sometimes brushing is not enough, especially when it comes to those hard-to-reach spots in your mouth. It is difficult for your toothbrush to get in between the small cracks and grooves on your teeth. If left alone, those tiny areas can develop tooth decay. Sealants give your teeth extra protection against decay and help prevent cavities.
Dental sealants are plastic resins that bond and harden in the deep grooves on your tooth’s surface. This procedure is painless and fast! When a tooth is sealed, the tiny grooves become smooth and are less likely to harbor plaque. With sealants, brushing your teeth becomes easier and more effective.
Sealants are typically applied to children’s teeth after their permanent teeth have erupted as a preventive measure against tooth decay. However, adults can also receive sealants on healthy teeth. It is more common to seal permanent teeth rather than baby teeth, but every patient has unique needs, and your dentist will recommend sealants on a case-by-case basis.
Sealants typically last from three to five years, although it is fairly common to see adults with sealants still intact from childhood. At each check up visit your dentist will evaluate existing sealants and make sure that they are fully intact.
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