When should I schedule my child’s first trip to the dentist? Typically, parents ask.
Good dental care begins before a baby’s first tooth appears. At birth, your baby has 20 primary teeth, some of which are fully developed in the jaw. Just because you can’t see the teeth, does not mean they are not there. In fact, newborn’s teeth are already formed in the gums and begin to appear as early as 4 months. Children’s first dental visit can be as soon as you see your child’s first teeth– which can be 4-6 months for most infants.
However, The ADA recommends that children see a dentist by their first birthday. At this first visit, the dentist will explain proper brushing and flossing techniques and do a modified exam.
- Once your infant gets teeth- brush them with an infant toothbrush. Use water and a tiny bit of fluoride toothpaste.
- Once your baby’s teeth touch, you can begin flossing in between them.
- Around age 2, your child should learn to spit while brushing. Avoid giving your child water to swish and spit because this might make swallowing toothpaste more likely.
- Kids ages 3 and up should use only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. *Kids don’t need that much fluoride as long as they brush properly.
- Always supervise kids younger than 8 while brushing, as they are more likely to swallow toothpaste.
How Can We Prevent Cavities?
*DO NOT PUT A BABY TO SLEEP WITH A BOTTLE OF MILK. This puts children at risk for bottle mouth (tooth decay).
Cavities happen when bacteria and food left on the teeth after eating are not brushed away. Acid collects on a tooth, softening its enamel until a hole AKA cavity forms.
Here’s how to keep cavities away:
- Start good oral habits early. Teach kids to brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and to floss regularly.
- Make sure the toothpaste your purchase has fluoride. Always check labels.
- Limit or avoid certain foods. Sugary foods, juices, candy (especially sticky gummy candy, gummy vitamins, or fruit leather or “roll-ups”) can erode enamel and cause cavities. If your kids eat these foods, have them rinse their mouth or brush their teeth after eating to wash away the sugar, especially before bed.
Regular checkups and good dental hygiene can help prevent too decay. Also, encourage your kids to use a mouthguard during sports, which can prevent serious dental injuries.
Future Dental Plan
As kids grow, plan on routine dental checkups anywhere from once every 3 months to once a year, depending on your dentist’s recommendations. Keeping sugary foods in check, encouraging regular brushing and flossing, and working with your dentist will lead good dental health.
By: Hadee Ahmadi, DNP-FNP student