By: Dr. George Lynch, owner of Cobble Stone Kids, a pediatric dentist office based in Philadelphia, PA
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a child’s first visit should occur around 6 months after he or she has gotten their first tooth. This usually puts them at around age 1.
How is my child going to sit and behave in a dentist’s chair at such a young age?
Many parents are apprehensive about the first dental visit because they are unsure how their child is going to react and behave. Although this is a natural response, pediatric dentists are well-trained in dealing with all ages of children with a wide-spectrum of behaviors. Very young children usually will sit in mom or dad’s lap while the dentist examines them. Remember…most children can read their parents and any apprehension you may have can transfer to your child. Keep the attitude towards the dentist a positive one.
My child does not really eat much candy and so why is it important for them to visit a dentist so early because the baby teeth will fall out anyway?
Remember…candy is only a small example of cavity-causers. Cavities are the result of bacteria that utilize sugars that sit in the mouth and produce an acidic byproduct that destroys tooth structure. These sugars can come from many different sources such as carbohydrates which make up a majority of children’s diets (ie: cereals, crackers, juices, milk). It is important to have your child’s teeth examined because baby teeth not only help our little ones eat and speak properly; they also maintain space for the adult teeth that follow them. Also, cavities in baby teeth that are left untreated can ultimately cause serious oral infections that can spread to other parts of the body.
When should my child first use toothpaste and how much should I really use?
Removing food and plaque from the teeth and gums should done routinely as the first tooth erupts; however a cloth or soft-bristled toothbrush dampened with water is only necessary in the early stages. As your child gets older he or she can use a “training toothpaste” that is non-fluoridated up to age 3. At or around the third birthday, your child should transition to fluoridated toothpaste that is flavored especially for children. Try to avoid minty flavors which can be perceived as “too spicy” or “burning” to your child’s tongue. When applying the toothpaste, only the bristles should be coated thinly; unlike the large, swooping ribbon of paste that is shown on commercials.
Do you think my child will need braces and at what age should we go to the orthodontist?
Even at a really young age, your pediatric dentist will be able to make educated guesses as to the probability that your child will be a candidate for orthodontic treatment. He or she will evaluate jaw alignment and tooth spacing. In most cases, your dental professional will need to see more growth to really decide whether treatment is necessary. However, there are cases such as under- bites, cross-bites or severally rotated permanent teeth that may require early orthodontic treatment. Each child is different and will be evaluated on an individual basis by your pediatric dentist.