FIRST VISIT BY AGE 1 – WHY IS THAT IMPORTANT? PART 2

Dental problems can begin early—This is a reason that the AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) recommends that your child visit a dentist by age 1. A big concern is Early Childhood Caries, also known as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing caries. Once a child starts eating solid foods and has more than just breast milk, teeth are at risk for decay. Children should not fall asleep with a bottle containing anything other than water. Juice should only be offered in a cup with meals or at snack time, never in a bottle. Children should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age.

By the time your child is 1 year old, your daily routine should including brushing your child’s teeth once a day, using a half pea size amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste. At this age, children do not have the ability or dexterity to brush their own teeth effectively so parental assistance is required. If children are not able to spit, parent should wipe out their mount with gauze or a clean clothe to get excess toothpaste out.

The earlier your child’s first dental visit occurs, the better chance you have of preventing dental problems. Children with health teeth chew food easily and smile with confidence. Start your child now on a lifetime of good dental habits.

Check back next week for our next topic, “All About Fluoride”

FIRST VISIT BY AGE 1 – WHY IS THAT IMPORTANT? PART 1

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child’s first dental visit occur by their 1st birthday or within 6 months after their first tooth comes in. The reason our office and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry so strongly advise this is to begin a thorough prevention plan and to establish a dental home for your child. The exception to this recommendation is if there is a particular concern or trauma to the teeth prior to this time frame.

Finding a dental home early on for your little one also promotes the development of trust between your child and their doctor, eliminating the fear often felt when visiting the dentist. The first appointment should be one that is non-threatening, fun and happy! This will get your child off on the right foot for a lifetime of healthy smiles!

At your child’s first appointment we will go over your child’s medical history, talk about any habits your child may have that could affect their teeth, do a growth and development chart, and talk with you about any questions or concerns you may have about your child’s dental health.

Another major goal of the first appointment is parental education. The dentist will simply examine your child’s teeth and give you advice on how to better take care of your child’s oral health. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and will be provided with brochures on a variety of topics.

Small children are examined by doing a knee-to-knee exam. The dentist and parent sit down facing one another and the parent then holds the child’s body in his or her lap and the dentist holds the child’s head in his or her lap. This is known as knee-to-knee dentistry and has been proven to be a good method to put children at ease while allowing the dentist to check for early cavities and oral developmental problems. At our office the dentist will examine, brush and apply fluoride to your child’s teeth at their appointment. Knee-to-knee exams continue every 6 months until the child is comfortable sitting in the dental chair, usually around age 3.

Come back next week for part 2 of “First Visit by Age 1 – Why is that important?”

WHAT TO EXPECT WITH YOUR KIDS TEETH: BIRTH TO AGE 1

Your child’s primary (baby) teeth are completely formed at birth. Primary teeth form at 6-8 weeks gestation, just under the gums. The process of eruption (teeth moving up and breaking through the gums) is often referred to as teething. On average, teething usually begins around 6 months of age. Symptoms that occur during teething may include excessive drooling, low grade fever, diarrhea, and fussiness from the discomfort.

HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO HELP DEAL WITH THE DISCOMFORT AND PAIN ASSOCIATED WITH TEETHING:

  • Allow baby to chew on teething rings.
  • Give infants Tylenol as needed to alleviate discomfort and inflammation.
  • Using numbing gel on baby’s gums is NOT recommended as it ends up numbing the throat and is not generally very effective.

The first teeth to erupt are the two bottom front teeth (central incisors) at around 6-8 months. After these appear, the two top front teeth (upper central incisors) will erupt around 8-12 months. The next to appear are usually the upper cutting teeth (lateral incisors) at around 9-13 months, these are the teeth directly adjacent to the upper front teeth on either side. Following these will be the matching pair on the bottom (lower incisors). The top and bottom first molars start to appear and erupt around age 1. Teeth like to erupt in pairs so our teeth stay symmetrical and all line up nicely in the mouth. The complete set of 20 primary teeth will be fully erupted by age 3.

Here you can see a graph of this process, courtesy of the American Dental Association.

Caring for baby’s primary teeth is a fairly simple process. Once teeth have started to erupt from the mouth, they should be softly wiped out after each feeding, including after nursing or formula. A clean piece of gauze or a cloth may be used wrapped around your finger to wipe out the mouth. You may also introduce a baby tooth brush with no toothpaste or simply water on it to your baby. They will have fun getting to hold it and experience the feel of the bristles in their mouth. Toothpaste is not started until your child is able and aware enough to spit. Swallowing the fluoride in the toothpaste on a regular basis could be harmful.

TO PROTECT YOUR CHILD’S NEW TEETH, KEEP THESE GUIDELINES IN MIND:

  • Limiting juice to a maximum of 4 oz per day
  • Avoid all sugary drinks – Milk or water is always a better decision.
  • Never put baby to sleep with a bottle as this will prolong exposure of their teeth to harmful sugars.

The American Pediatric Dental Association recommends bringing your child to a dentist by age 1 or within 6 months after the first tooth has erupted. Our next article will discuss why it is important to visit the dentist by age 1 and what to expect at your child’s first visit.

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