PEDIATRIC (Children) Dentistry
The First Visit
The first dental visit should be just after your child’s first birthday, or within six months of when the first teeth begin to erupt. While many parents believe a child’s baby teeth are “just baby teeth,” this is actually far from the truth. Baby teeth are important in developing good oral hygiene habits from a young age and also for maintaining space for the permanent teeth to erupt.
The first dental visit is usually short and involves very little treatment. We may ask you to sit in the dental chair and hold your child during the examination. We will gently examine your child’s teeth and gums. X-rays may be taken to reveal decay and check on the development of your child’s permanent teeth. We may clean your child’s teeth and apply topical fluoride to help protect the teeth against decay. Most importantly, we will review with you how to clean and care for your child’s teeth.
What should I tell my child about the first dental visit?
We are asked this question many times. We suggest you prepare your child the same way you would before their first haircut! Here are some “First Visit” tips:
- Take your child for a “preview” of the office.
- Read books with them about going to the dentist.
- Review with them what the dentist will be doing at the time of the first visit.
- Speak positively about your own dental experiences.
What about preventative care?
Tooth decay and children no longer have to go hand in hand. At our office, we are most concerned with all aspects of preventive care. We use the latest in dental sealant technology to protect your child’s teeth. A dental sealant is material that is bonded to the chewing surfaces of decay-prone back teeth. This material fills the grooves and pits of back molars to allow easier brushing where the toothbrush normally would be difficult to reach. This is just one of the ways we will set the foundation for your child’s lifetime of good oral health.
Most of the time cavities are due to a diet high in sugary foods and a lack of brushing. Limiting sugar intake and brushing regularly, of course, can help. Every time you eat and leave food behind on their teeth, bacteria digest these leftover foods and produce an acid which in turn can break down your tooth enamel, leading to a cavity.
Tips for cavity prevention
- Limit frequency of meals and snacks.
- Encourage brushing, flossing and rinsing.
- Watch what your child drinks.
- Avoid giving your child sticky foods.
- Make treats part of meals and not a separate occasion.
- Choose nutritious snacks.
Baby Teeth Eruption Pattern
The first baby teeth that come into the mouth are the two bottom front teeth. You will notice this when your baby is about 6-8 months old. Next to follow will be the 4 upper front teeth and the remainder of your baby’s teeth will appear periodically. They will usually appear in pairs along the sides of the jaw until the child is about 2 1/2 years old.
At around 2 1/2 years old your child should have all 20 baby teeth. Between the ages of 5 and 6 the first permanent teeth will begin to erupt. Some of the permanent teeth replace baby teeth and some don’t. Don’t worry if some teeth are a few months early or late as all children are different.
Baby teeth are important as they not only hold space for permanent teeth but they are important for chewing, biting, speech, and appearance. For these reasons, it is important to maintain a healthy diet and good oral hygiene, including regular visits to the dentist!