Congratulations on the arrival of your baby! Are you prepared for the arrival of your baby's first tooth? Follow these guidelines and your baby will be on her way to a lifetime of healthy smiles!
First Visit to the Dentist
It's recommended that you bring your baby in for a visit within six months of the first tooth's eruption — usually around her first birthday. Because decay can occur in even the smallest of teeth, the earlier your baby visits us, the more likely she is to avoid problems. We'll look for any signs of early problems with your baby's oral heath, and check in with you about the best way to care for her teeth. Remember that preparing for each dental visit with a positive attitude goes a long way toward making your child comfortable with regular checkups.
Because we know that early dental care is so important, we provide the first visit FREE for new patients before their 2nd birthdays.
Infant dental visits will help to:
- Establish a dental "home" for your child, which is important when you have new concerns or emergencies.
- Avoid anxiety. Children who begin regular dental visits at age 1 are less likely to have anxiety with future visits when compared to children who have their first visit at age 3 or older. Early dental visits can also reduce anxiety that parents may have related to their child's oral care.
- Lower oral health costs. Studies show that the dental costs for children who have their first dental visit before age one are 40% lower in the first five years of life than for those who do not see a dentist before their first birthday.
- Reduce your child's risk for cavities and improve oral health throughout childhood.
Caring for Gums
Even before your baby's first tooth appears, her gums can benefit from your careful attention. After breast- or bottle-feeding, wrap one finger with a clean, damp washcloth or piece of gauze and gently rub it across your baby's gum tissue. This practice both clears your little one's mouth of any fragments of food and begins the process for building good daily oral care habits.
Baby's First Tooth
When that first tooth makes an entrance, it's time to upgrade to a baby toothbrush. At this young age we recommend using a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste for each brushing. During the teething process, your child will want to chew on just about anything, and a baby toothbrush with a teether can become a favorite toy during this period.
Brushing with Toothpaste
With only a few teeth, a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste is recommended for each brushing. Also, children as young as two can develop decay between teeth where they touch closely together, so we recommend flossing your child's teeth as soon as the brush can no longer clean those hard to reach surfaces.
Don't give your baby any sort of sweetened liquids such as flavored drinks or soda. Even the sugars present in fruit juice, formula, and milk (this goes for breast milk as well) can cause decay, so regular tooth and gum cleaning is vital. Also, make sure your baby never goes to bed with a bottle — sugary liquids in prolonged contact with her teeth are a guarantee for early-childhood decay, also called baby-bottle caries. Another important way to prevent early tooth decay is to avoid frequent snacks, especially sticky carbohydrates like crackers.
Setting a Good Example
As part of the natural learning process, little ones are expert mimics, and you can take advantage of this talent. Brush and floss daily while your child is watching, and she'll intuit at an early age the importance of your good habits. As soon as she shows interest, give her a toothbrush of her own and encourage her to "brush" with you. (You'll find toothbrushes with chunky, short handles that are easy for her to grip.) Most children don't have the dexterity necessary to thoroughly clean their own teeth until they're about six or seven, so you'll have to do that part of the job for her. Try different tactics to make brushing fun: flavored toothpaste, a toothbrush with a favorite character on it, or singing songs about brushing. The primary goal is to instill healthy oral habits at an early age to set your child up for a lifetime of healthy, cavity-free teeth!