Everyday someone will come into our office and ask a question about their kid’s oral health. When should their first trip to the dentist be? Can they use fluoride toothpaste? Should I still be brushing their teeth? These are all great questions and can have varied answers depending on your child’s individual situation.
As we mentioned in last week’s blog, developing healthy habits can be a long process, but when done early will have the best result for long term health. During a child’s first six months they are usually toothless, so cleaning can be done by rubbing their gums with a damp washcloth or piece of gauze. After their teeth begin erupting, you can instill the importance of good oral health by brushing their teeth twice a day. This can be done with just a wet toothbrush or with a non-fluoridated kid’s toothpaste. At around 3 years old, or when a child can effectively spit the leftover paste out, you can begin using toothpaste with fluoride to help prevent cavities. At the beginning, just a ‘smear’ of toothpaste is sufficient and as the child gets older you can start using a pea-sized amount.
In terms of timing for a child’s dentist appointment – the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends getting the first one scheduled around their first birthday. After that, six month recall appointments are recommended to make sure no cavities are forming and that teeth are erupting as they should be. Although children are going to lose them, baby teeth are important for providing a pathway for adult teeth to erupt into. Parents can also bring children with them to their own dental cleanings – having the child watch or even lie in your lap during a cleaning can build a sense of comfort with the dental office.
Here at Stephens’ Dentistry we love seeing young patients and educating them on how to have a healthy mouth. Especially with pediatric dentistry, prevention is the most important tactic for the least invasive and expensive route to treating teeth. We work with a great network of pediatric dentists and orthodontists to ensure that all of our tiny patients receive the very best care. If you have any questions about your child’s oral health please feel free to ask at your next appointment.
The AAPD provides this “Mouth Monsters” website filled with educational games and videos to educate parents and entertain children: http://mouthmonsters.mychildrensteeth.org/.