The current recommendation for a child’s first dental visit is by age 1. By age one, most children will already have 8 teeth, four on top and four on the bottom. Many will also have their first year molars beginning to erupt. During this first exam your dentist will look in your child’s mouth in a “knee-to-knee” position, meaning you will be able to hold your child and comfort them during what may seem like a scary first encounter for them.
Don’t worry if they cry or seem upset. It is startling to have a stranger in their personal space. Besides, as long as their mouth is open we can get a good quick look. Your child’s visit will also include tips on brushing techniques, a fluoride treatment, and time to answer any questions you may have about your child’s oral health.
As kids get older we help them transition into checkups that look and feel more and more like a grown-up checkup. When they are ready we will work with them to take x-rays and perform a full cleaning. Every child is different and our team knows how to gauge when your child is ready to make the transition to a “big kid” appointment.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps protect against cavities. When placed as a topical fluoride (rinse, varnish or foam) the teeth absorb it and become stronger against tooth decay.
Children’s Home Care:
- Brush your child’s teeth 1-2 times per day with a soft toothbrush and smear of fluoridated toothpaste.
- Do not give your baby soda. If you give your child juice, dilute it with some water.
- If you put your child to bed with a bottle, give them water. Giving a child milk or formula at bedtime will increase the likelihood of decay, known as baby bottle decay.
- Eliminate the use of a pacifier or thumb between age 2- 3 to give the best chance for adequate jaw growth and development
Age 4 – 10:
- Remind your children to brush and floss regularly.
- Spot check their teeth after they brush. Children do not usually have the dexterity to properly clean all surfaces of their teeth and flossing is tricking until the preteen years.
- Buy and use oral care products that contain fluoride.
- Take your child to see the dentist every 6 months.
- Replace your child’s toothbrush every 3 months.
- Ask about sealants for adult molars to prevent cavities as they come in
Ages 10 & up:
- Now that your child is making more decisions for themselves, encourage them to eat right: limit starchy and sugary snacks (including pop), eat more fruits and vegetables, and drink plenty of water.
- Offer treats as part of a meal other than “stand alone” snacks. Frequent snacking or grazing creates an oral environment that is more prone to cavities. At mealtime, increased saliva flow will help wash away plaque acids and food particles.
- If you like gum choose a sugar free variety. Gums with Xylitol sweetener are the best for preventing cavities.
- If your child is active in sports, protect their teeth with a mouth guard.
- If you are concerned about crowding or spacing of your child’s teeth and think they might need braces ask your dentist.
Children learn through what they see, so set good examples!
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