Early dental care is the foundation of future oral health. Pediatric dentists receive special training in caring for young patients and guiding their development.
Like teens and adults of all ages, children should see the dentist at least twice yearly or every six months. Children also need routine cleanings, comprehensive oral exams, and digital radiographs to ensure their teeth are healthy.
Recommendations for the First Dental Visit
Many parents may not look forward to taking their child to the dentist for the first time. Perhaps they are wary of the child's reaction to the lights, sounds, smells, and sitting still in the chair. Making a trial visit to the dentist before the exam can help introduce the child to the setting.
Several years ago, dentists recommended the child's first visit on or about their third birthday. Today, pediatric dentists urge parents to bring their children in for their first visit by 12 months or when the first tooth appears.
Early visits allow your child's dentist to observe and track their oral development from a very young age. These visits also allow the child and dentist to become accustomed to each other early on. When your child has positive associations with dental care at home and in the office, they will be more likely to maintain excellent oral care habits during their lifetime.
Starting orthodontic treatment early, when necessary, can shorten the process and make it less expensive and complex. An orthodontist should examine children before age 7. This age is the typical start date for early orthodontic treatment.
Caring For Your Child's Teeth at Home
In early infancy, begin gently wiping the baby's gums with a damp washcloth after each bottle, feeding, or meal. Do not let your child go to bed with a bottle of anything but water.
Use an infant toothbrush as soon as the baby has teeth. The first tooth typically emerges around five to eight months. Flossing should also start as soon as the teeth appear.
Children should be encouraged to try brushing themselves, but parents should brush for them until age six or seven.
Recommendations for children's use of fluoride have changed. Today, pediatric dentists recommend using a smear of children's fluoride toothpaste on a cloth or soft brush as soon as the first tooth emerges.
Children need to be encouraged to develop positive oral care habits. Parents modeling proper oral care, allowing children to role-play brushing teeth or going to the dentist, and reading encouraging books about the experience help to develop confidence.
Call Aliso Smiles
Taking care of your child's teeth should start in infancy. Your pediatric dentist can be a resource for home care instructions and office visits. Call Aliso Smiles at 949-916-7800 to learn more about our pediatric services and make an appointment for your child.