Your Child’s First Dental Visit
Your child's first dental visit should be scheduled around when the first tooth erupts or by 1 year of age. The most important part of the visit will be the conversation you will have with us about the prevention of cavities. Diet, oral hygiene, and fluoride are the 3 important topics we will discuss and we will explain how if you follow some simple rules, you can ensure your child remains cavity free. Another important part of the first visit is getting to know and becoming comfortable with us. Frequent, easy, early visits build trust and help put your child at ease during future dental visits should they ever need treatment. Usually the examination of your infant or young child is very quick and performed in your lap to make your child feel comfortable.
Why Primary Teeth Are Important
Primary teeth are important for several reasons. Foremost, strong teeth allow children to eat and maintain good nutrition. Healthy teeth facilitate word pronunciation and a positive self-image. Primary teeth also guide eruption of the permanent teeth.
Good Diet and Healthy Teeth
The teeth, bones and soft tissue of the mouth require a healthy, well-balanced diet. A variety of foods from the five food groups helps minimize (and avoid) cavities and other dental problems. Many snacks marketed towards children are loaded with the simple sugars that cause cavities. Children who snack on proteins, dairy, whole grains, vegetables, and whole fruits usually have fewer cavities compared to children who snack on crackers, cookies, and cereals that are high in simple carbohydrates.
Often, it is the frequency of sugar exposure that increases cavity risk. The children who snack regularly between meals will get more cavities than children who stick to eating at meal times. Additionally, the drinks that children prefer can have a strong impact on their dental health. Children are more likely to remain cavity free if they prefer plain milk and water to the more sugary drinks like juices, sodas, sports drinks, sweet teas, or flavored milks. Providing your child with a "no-spill cup" or "sippy cup" with non-diluted juice in-between meals has the double risk factors of high simple sugar exposure and high frequency of exposure to sugars due to how children sip from this type of cup. Try to limit juices to meal times and dilute the juice significantly with tap water.
Infant Tooth Eruption
Your child's primary teeth actually started forming before birth. As early as 4-6 months of age, the primary teeth ("baby teeth") erupt. Usually the lower central incisors are usually first, followed by the upper central incisors. The remainder of the 20 primary teeth typically erupt erupt in stages, and are all are usually in by age 3. Both primary and permanent teeth tend to erupt symmetrically, with the same tooth on the left and right erupting around the same time. While the actual time of tooth eruption can may vary, it is usually normal variation.
More information: American Dental Association
Preventing Baby-Bottle Tooth Decay
Tooth decay in infants can be minimized by not allowing sleeping infants to breast or bottle-feed, without wiping their teeth afterwards. If wiping your infant's teeth when they are asleep wakes them up, you can instead offer them a water-filled bottle or a pacifier. Our office is dedicated to preventing baby bottle tooth decay, which is why we encourage early dental visits. Let us know if you notice any signs of decay or anything unusual in your child's mouth.
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