Parents should begin cleaning their child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears. When the teeth begin to come in, clean them gently with a soft cloth or some gauze. You can use a soft toothbrush when your child has a few teeth.
You should have your primary physician perform an oral health risk assessment at six months of age, where they can identify the likelihood of future dental problems and advise you on early dental care. Most experts recommend beginning formal dental care at 12 months of age. The only exception would be if there is an injury, disease, or developmental problem (in which case you should see your dentist earlier).
Most children can begin brushing alone around age 3. Until then, be sure to brush your child’s teeth for them. Use only a tiny amount of toothpaste for children under age 2; use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for children ages 2 to 5. Make sure your child is brushing twice a day by age 4.
You should begin flossing your child’s teeth when they touch. Talk to your dentist about the best way to floss and proper flossing techniques.
Some dental problems begin very early in life. One concern is baby bottle tooth decay, a serious condition caused by a child staying on the bottle (or breast) too long. Another problem is gum disease; about 40 percent of children ages 2 to 3 have at least mild inflammation of gum tissues. Oral habits such as thumb sucking should also be checked. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chances of preventing problems.
Primary teeth allow for proper chewing and eating, help in speech development, and enable a child to feel confident and happy. Healthy primary teeth also enable normal development of the jaw bones and muscles, save space for the permanent teeth, and help guide them into place. If a baby tooth is lost too soon, permanent teeth may come in crooked. Decaying baby teeth can cause pain, abscesses, or infections that can spread to the permanent teeth or affect your child’s overall health. Remember, some primary molars are not replaced until age 10 to 14, so they must last for years.
Parents often ask us this question! We suggest you prepare your child the same way you would prepare them for their first haircut or a trip to the shoe store. This will not be the frightening experience you may remember from your youth. If you are nervous about the trip yourself, then saying less is better. It is hard to hide your anxiety from a child (they have radar for these things). Your child’s reaction to his first visit to the dentist may surprise you!
Tooth decay no longer has to be unavoidable for children. We offer the latest in sealant technology to help protect your child’s teeth. Sealants are space-age plastics that are bonded to the chewing surfaces of decay-prone back teeth. This is just one of the ways we set the foundation for your child’s lifetime of good oral health.
We recommend always removing bottles as soon as your child finishes eating or falls asleep, and avoiding letting them sleep with a bottle of milk, formula, or a sugary drink like juice. We also encourage parents to experiment with offering their child a sippy cup (instead of a bottle) around 4 to 6 months of age. Parents should limit juice to four to six ounces per day, in a cup (not a bottle), for children ages 1 to 6.
Your health and peace of mind are always our primary concern! We use state of the art sterilization procedures and routinely test the efficacy of our sterilization units. After each patient’s visit, the treatment area is thoroughly disinfected. We ultrasonically clean and heat-sterilize all non-disposable instruments. Our staff also wears gloves and masks during all cleanings and procedures.
Please feel free to ask us for more information on the measures we take to ensure the safety of you and your child. Or, stop by and take a tour of our sterilization area!