Parents often ask when they should start taking their kids to the dentist. We follow the guidelines of the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry: the first visit should no later than the child’s first birthday and then at regular intervals as recommended by your child’s dentist.
Why so early? The main reasons are to establish a solid prevention program and so the dentist identify any irregularities. Children are at risk for early childhood caries (cavities), often associated with tooth decay from using baby bottles or nursing. Primary (baby) teeth have an important function – they set the stage for the space which will be needed by the permanent teeth.
In general, in caring for your baby and toddler’s dental health, we recommend:
- Start at birth, cleaning the gums with a soft, infant toothbrush or a moist cloth and water.
- When the teeth start coming in, use a child size toothbrush and a smear of children’s toothpaste (no larger than a grain of rice) to brush the teeth twice, daily.
- Don’t give your child a bottle at sleep time, or give only water. Going to bed with a bottle is a primary cause of early childhood caries (cavities) and bottlemouth syndrome.
- Avoid giving a child a bottle of juice, milk, or any fluid containing sugar, to carry around during the day.
- Provide your child water, after meals and snacks, to rinse away sugary substances in the mouth.
- Assist your child in brushing their teeth; allow them the independence to start with brushing their teeth, but finish the job for them and ensure that all areas are properly cleaned.
- Schedule a visit to your child’s dentist within 6 month of the first tooth coming in, or no later than his/her first birthday.
At Distinctive Dentistry, we are honored to take care of your family’s dentistry, from babies on up to grandparents!