We started our blog posts off with information about dental insurance because we believe that it’s important for patients to understand their insurance. Now we’re going to move on to taking care of your smile throughout your life.
To start your children out on a great path to oral health, it is important to start young. Oral care should begin as soon as the first tooth erupts, or before. Parents should model good oral hygiene habits for their kids to follow. The Academy of General Dentistry says that “According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay affects children in the United States more than any other chronic infectious disease, highlighting the need for thorough oral care and regular dental visits.”
Beginning Oral Hygiene
According to the ADA, you should “begin brushing your child’s teeth with a little water as soon as the first tooth appears.” You can use a soft cloth or a baby toothbrush to clean your child’s teeth. If you’d like, you can clean your baby’s gums with a soft cloth before their teeth begin to appear to get them use to the feeling of something in their mouth. No toothpaste is necessary, but should you choose to use some, please check with your dentist or physician for recommendations.
First Dental Visit
“The American Dental Association recommends that a child be seen by a dentist as soon as his or her first tooth erupts, but at least no later than the first birthday.” (Source) This initial visit is considered a “well baby checkup.” The dentist will evaluate the child’s teeth and can help demonstrate how to properly care for your child’s teeth. At this time you can also speak to your dentist about any concerns you have about your child’s teeth or any oral habits (such as thumb sucking or pacifier usage).
Feel free to ask your dentist what to expect at the first appointment for your child. Usually it is an introductory appointment for your child to meet the dentist. Initial visits usually include introductions to the hygienist and the dentist, as well as introductions to dental equipment (such as Mr. Thirsty). Depending on the child’s age and if the child is cooperative, the dentist or hygienist may count the child’s teeth and buzz the child’s finger with a prophy angle to get them use to the feeling.
To prepare your child for their first visit, talk to your child and build excitement for the appointment, but don’t make promises that you may not be able to keep, such as telling them that it won’t hurt. “’Avoid saying that everything will be fine, because if you child ends up needing a treatment, he might lose trust in both the dentist and you,’ says Joel H. Berg, D.D.S., M.S., Director of the Department of Dentistry at Seattle Children’s Hospital.” (Source) Avoid bribing your child with a special toy or trip if they are well behaved. This may lead your little one to wondering why they would need to make a fuss and may cause them more apprehension.
Every parent wants the best for their child. Ensure your child’s smile lasts a lifetime by introducing great oral hygiene at an early age. If you have any questions about your child’s oral health, call our Evanston dental office to set up an appointment with Dr. James or Dr. Robert Stephens. Or leave a question below, we’ll help you get the answers that you need.