Baby’s First Dental Visit

Dr. Meenakshi Madhu

 

Did you know the American Dental Association recommends a child’s first dental visit before the age of one? When babies are born, they have 20 primary teeth (or baby teeth) partially formed inside the gums, set to emerge over the first three years of life. As they break through, it is often difficult to tell with an untrained eye if everything is aligned and in proper health. It is also very common for parents to overlook brushing of teeth at this early age, assuming the new teeth are not yet susceptible to decay. But this is vastly untrue. 27.9% of children aged 2 to 5 show signs of dental decay. Unfortunately, around half of parents feel that waiting until 2 or 3 years of age is sufficient, but at that time, decay and dental growth issues could have already taken hold.

 

Higher Risk of Cavities

Whenever we ingest food or drink, the chemistry of the mouth changes to become more acidic, to break down the sugars in what we consumed. This acidic environment makes teeth susceptible to tooth decay for up to 20 minutes after the completion of the meal. Young children must eat more frequently to support their growing and ever-moving body, so they are exposing their teeth to more acidic periods than adults. This is especially true if the child is put to bed with bottles or drinks milk and sugar-filled juices throughout the day.

 

Tooth brushing should begin as soon as the first tooth is visible, and a proper dentist can give you tips and tricks to make teeth brushing a calm and happy part of the child’s daily routine. Fluoride-free toothpaste is recommended until the child can properly spit, as to not expose the child to unnecessarily high fluoride ingestion, without sacrificing the benefits of proper brushing.

 

Early Fluoride Treatment

Fluoride is a very beneficial tool in preventing cavities in people of all ages. It attaches to the tooth and acts as an additional layer of enamel, protecting against acids and bacteria causing cavities. When applied at an early age, and consistently thereafter, it helps set the child up for a lifetime of protected teeth and a lower risk of future cavities. As younger children may not be getting the full benefit of fluoride in their toothpaste, due to swallowing hazards, having the dentist manually apply a layer of fluoride to the teeth is an effective alternative to help gain the benefits of protection.

 

Checking for Alignment Issues at the First Dental Visit

Many children suck their thumb or use a pacifier. Unfortunately, this can cause jaw issues and problems with tooth alignment in some children. It is important to let your dentist know if these risk factors are part of your every-day, so your child can be monitored and if damage is beginning to occur, changes can be made to prevent lifelong issues or braces. If the child is at risk of oral damage, a strategy can be devised to stop the issue and correct any visible impairment.

 

Teaches Children that the Dentist is their Ally

It is important that children understand that, just like their parent or doctor, a dentist is a friend who will help them. Dentists should be a part of the child’s life, instilling good brushing habits and warding off the risk factors of negative dental behavior. This is especially important during the child’s formative years, as studies by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry find that a child will remain incapable of properly brushing their teeth without parental help until the age of 8, as they do not yet have the fine motor skills.

 

 

If you are ready to bring your youngster to their first dental visit, call us today and we’ll set you up with Sensitive Care’s Pediatric dental specialist. We have a child-friendly waiting room, prizes for the end of visits, and, most importantly, a team trained in patience and sensitivity to make your child’s dental experience a positive one.  Call us today at 203-878-6699.

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