We recommend your child comes in for an initial appointment by his or her first birthday so that we can begin to teach them great oral hygiene habits at an early age.
The First Visit
It’s our belief that this first visit should be a joy, as it often sets the tone in a child’s mind for future appointments. We want you and your child to feel at ease from the moment you walk through our office doors. Our gentle staff makes a special effort to use kind words to describe each treatment and aims to make getting to know one’s teeth fun! Helping your child become familiar with the dentist ahead of time through conversations about what to expect, reading children’s books, and coloring pictures can help relieve their anxiety and encourage positive feelings about taking care of their teeth.
When New Teeth Arrive
Your child’s primary (baby) teeth start to grow in around 6-12 months of age and continue growing until about age three. During this time, your child’s gums will most likely 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, there should be around 20 primary teeth.
These first teeth are shed at various times throughout childhood. Permanent teeth begin erupting at age six and continue until age 21 when all 28 have come in (32 including wisdom teeth).
Adopting Healthy Habits
As your child’s teeth grow, be sure to inspect them every two weeks, looking for lines and discoloration that could be caused by decay. Parents should begin a brushing routine as soon as the first tooth arrives, using 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 by a healthcare professional. Since sugary foods and liquids can attack a new tooth, we recommend brushing after each meal and before bedtime for ideal oral hygiene. As your child grows and begins to brush their teeth independently, review proper tooth brushing procedures and help them when necessary.
Don’t forget about flossing! It is also an important part of good oral hygiene and our dentists will help you determine the right time to start. If you notice signs of decay, please contact our office immediately.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is caused by sugars left in your mouth that turn into acid and can break down your teeth. Children and adolescents are at a higher risk for tooth decay for one simple reason: many do not consistently practice good oral hygiene habits. Proper brushing and flossing routines as well as dental cleanings and checkups every six months, help prevent tooth decay.
To keep teeth at their best, we recommend fluoride treatments during these appointments. We may also advise tooth sealants because they “seal” the deep grooves in your child’s molars, preventing decay from forming in these hard-to-reach areas. Sealants last for several years, but will be monitored during routine checkups to make sure that they’re still performing their job properly.