A child’s first visit to the pediatric dentist should be enjoyable and positive. The more you and your child know about the first visit, the better you will feel about using a pediatric dentist. Children are not born with a fear of the dentist, but they can fear the unknown. Our office makes a practice of using pleasant, non-frightening and simple words during your child’s first dental visit and treatment. For the best dentist in Sacramento, schedule your child’s first visit with Natomas Crossing Dental Care. We make you feel at ease from the moment your family arrives at our office.
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To help prepare your child for his or her first visit to our office, we created an activity kit that helps children become familiar with their teeth and look forward to their dental visit. Download our Dynamite Dental Fun Kit now.
When should I make my child’s first dentist appointment?
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), children should visit the pediatric dentist by their first birthday. Your child’s newly erupted teeth (erupting at 6 – 12 months of age) should receive proper dental care. Children benefit from appropriate oral hygiene habits right from the beginning.
Since decay can occur in even the smallest of teeth, the earlier your baby visits us, the more likely he or she will avoid problems. We look for any signs of early problems with your baby’s oral heath and we check in with you about the best way to care for baby’s teeth. Remember that preparing for each dental visit with a positive attitude goes a long way toward making your child comfortable with regular checkups.
When do new teeth arrive?
Your child’s first tooth erupts between ages 6 – 12 moths and the remainder of their 20 primary or “baby” teeth typically erupt by age 3. During this time, gums may feel tender and sore, causing your child to feel irritable. To help alleviate this discomfort, we recommend that you soothe the gums by rubbing a clean finger or a cool, wet cloth across them. You may also choose to use a teething ring.
Your child’s primary teeth are shed at various times throughout childhood, and their permanent teeth begin erupting at age 6 and continue until age 21. Adults have 28 permanent teeth, or 32 including wisdom teeth.
What can I do for my baby’s first teeth?
Even before your baby’s first tooth appears (or “erupts,” in dental jargon), the gums can benefit from your careful attention. After 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 of building a good habit of oral daily care.
When that first tooth makes an entrance, it’s time to upgrade to a baby toothbrush. There are two options: a long-handled toothbrush that you and your baby can hold at the same time, and a finger puppet-like brush that fits over the tip of your pointed finger. Both have just a few soft bristles. At this stage, toothpaste isn’t necessary; just dip the brush in water before brushing. If your little one doesn’t react well to the introduction of a toothbrush, don’t give up; switch back to a damp washcloth for a few months, then try the toothbrush again. During the teething process, your child wants to chew on just about anything — a baby toothbrush with a teether can become a favorite toy during this period.
What healthy oral hygiene habits are appropriate for my child?
As new teeth erupt, examine them every two weeks for lines and discoloration caused by decay. Remember that sugary foods and liquids can attack a new tooth, so take care that your child brushes his or her teeth after feeding or eating. We recommend brushing four times a day for optimal oral hygiene; after breakfast, after lunch, after dinner and at bedtime. At a minimum, teeth should be brushed morning after breakfast and at night before bed. Make sure your child does not eat or drink anything after brushing the teeth at night.
Brushing can be fun, and your child should brush — with your help — as soon as the first teeth arrive. Parents should brush the teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste. For the first three years, use only a pea-sized amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste; too much fluoride can be dangerous for youngsters. From the beginning, have your little one practice spitting the toothpaste out after brushing to prepare the child for fluoride toothpaste, which should not be swallowed at any age. We suggest reviewing proper tooth brushing procedures with your child.
Children should use smaller toothbrushes with shorter brushing planes in proportion to the size of their mouths. By the way, in addition to changing brushes every three months or when the bristles appear worn, it’s a good idea to toss those brushes after colds or sore throats.
How can I help my child prevent tooth decay?
Tooth decay is preventable. It occurs when sugars left in the mouth turn into an acid that can break down teeth. 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 (including breast milk) can cause decay, so regular tooth and gum cleanings are vital. Also, make sure your baby never goes to bed with a bottle — sugary liquids in prolonged contact with baby’s teeth are a guarantee for early childhood decay, also called “baby bottle caries.”
Children are at high risk for tooth decay for a simple reason — many children and adolescents tend to be lax in their oral hygiene habits. Proper brushing and flossing routines, combined with regular dental visits, help keep tooth decay away. A low-sugar diet also helps prevent tooth decay. Limit the amount of sugary foods (like candy) or starchy foods (like pretzels) that your children eat between meals; instead, offer them an apple, banana or carrot.
Your child should visit the dentist every six months for regular dental cleanings and checkups. We recommend fluoride treatments twice a year along with cleanings to keep teeth at their strongest. Tooth sealants are also recommended because they “seal” the deep grooves in your child’s teeth, preventing decay from forming in those hard-to-reach areas. Sealants last for several years and are monitored during regular checkups.
How can I set a good example?
As part of the 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 he or she will intuit at an early age the importance of good habits. As soon as your child shows interest, give him or her a toothbrush and encourage your child to brush with you. Try to find a toothbrush with a chunky, short handle that is easy for little fingers to grip. Most children don’t have the dexterity necessary to thoroughly clean their own teeth until they are about 6 or 7 years old, so you’ll have to do part of the job. Try different tactics to make brushing fun: flavored toothpaste, a toothbrush with a favorite character on it, 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!
What should I do in an emergency?
If you have a Pediatric Dental emergency, please contact Natomas Crossing Dental Care at 916-999-1308 as soon as possible. For additional information on emergency pediatric dental treatment, click here.