Leading by example…
The ideal first dental visit takes place when the baby is between the age of six months and one year, around the time when babies typically get their first tooth. Getting a dental exam at this age helps a child build a comfort level with the dentist.
Preventing Early Dental Problems
There’s that magic word again prevention, the earlier the dental visit the better the chance of preventing dental problems.
Dental concerns for very young children include
This is the time to prevent “baby bottle tooth decay”, which is caused by prolonged contact with almost any liquid other than water, for example, formula, milk, juice, or soft drinks. When liquid from a bottle (or from lingering nursing) builds up in the mouth the sugars from both the liquid change into an acid that starts to dissolve the teeth causing decay. This can lead to severe damage to your child’s baby teeth and even permanent teeth.
The dentist will evaluate the fluoride in your child’s diet and may recommend using supplements or reducing fluoride.
The dentist or hygienist will give you age-specific brushing and mouth care tips and techniques.
The first appointment can be a happy baby visit. Is should begin what can be a lifetime of favorable dental experiences.
The fist appointment also gives you a feel for whether the dentist is a good match for your child-prior to the time when any dental work may be necessary.
If after the initial visit you are uncomfortable with the dentist or any of the dental exam, continue your search.
Age 2: The Next-Best First Trip to the Dentist
Because you want your child’s dental visits to be pain-free and fun, the next-best time to bring baby to the dentist is at age two. At this age, thanks to your early home care prevention efforts, baby’s teeth and gums should be decay and disease free.
Children between the ages of two and four who have never visited a dentist are at greater risk of having tooth decay and of developing a fear of going to the dentist.
When children get a bit older, they confuse going to the dentist with visit to their pediatrician. They remember painful immunization shots and become fearful that the dentist will hurt them too. So avoid using the phrase, “We’re going to see the doctor.”
Do’s and dont’s
- Do limit juice drinks to 10 percent or less of the baby’s daily diet. Juice encourage tooth decay.
- Don’t allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, juice, formula or other sweetened liquids.
- Do wipe baby’s gums with a soft, damp cloth after each feeding.
- Do use either your finger or a small brush in the child’s mouth twice a day when baby’s first teeth “come in.”
- Do discuss a fluoride supplement with your child’s dentist if you live in an area with low fluoride content. Fluoride strengthens the tooth’s enamel.
- Don’t give your child any fluoride if he or she is under six months of age. If you have any questions or doubts, discuss it with your child’s dentist and pediatrician.
- Do be careful when adding water to formula because it may exceed recommended levels of fluoride. It is better to use distilled water, purified water, or tap water filtered with a reverse osmosis filter. Too much fluoride in the diet will show up later as white spots on the permanent teeth (fluorosis). On the other hand…
- Don’t use only bottle water (which in most cases has no fluoride) or you may get too little fluoride in the diet. Consult with your child’s dentist and pediatrician.