A child’s first visit to the dentist should be enjoyable. Children are not born with a natural fear of the dentist, but they can fear the unknown. Our office makes a special effort to use pleasant, non-frightening, simple words to describe each treatment. We want you and your child to feel at ease from the moment your family arrives at our office in Midlothian, VA.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children should visit the dentist by their first birthday. It is important that your child’s newly erupted teeth (erupting at 6 to 12 months of age) receive proper dental care and benefit from proper oral hygiene habits right from the beginning.
When New Teeth Arrive
Your child’s first primary, or “baby,” teeth will begin to erupt between the ages of 6 to 12 months and will continue to erupt until about age three. During this time, your child’s gums may feel tender and sore. To ease any discomfort, we suggest gently massaging the gums with a clean finger or a cool, damp cloth. Another option is to utilize a teething ring. These methods can provide relief and soothe the gums.
Your child’s primary teeth are shed at various times throughout childhood. Permanent teeth begin erupting at age 6 and continue until age 21. Adults have 28 permanent teeth (32 teeth including wisdom teeth).
Adopting Healthy Oral Hygiene Habits
Remember that sugary foods and liquids can attack a new tooth, so take care that an adult brushes your child’s teeth after feeding or eating. We recommend brushing twice a day for optimal oral hygiene.
You should start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth arrives. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), parents can start brushing with a rice grain amount of fluoride toothpaste after the first tooth erupts. Once a child is three years old, the AAPD recommends a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. We suggest reviewing proper tooth brushing procedures with your child and allowing them to practice brushing; however, an adult needs to brush after a child does until the age of eight to ten years old. The dexterity in children’s hands is not fully developed until after the age of eight, so it is difficult for children younger to reach the back areas adequately.
Preventing Tooth Decay With Regular Checkups
Tooth decay is caused by sugars left in your mouth that turn into acid, which can break down your teeth. Children are at high risk for tooth decay for a simple reason: many children and adolescents do not practice regular, good oral hygiene habits. Proper brushing and flossing routines combined with regular dental visits help keep tooth decay away.
Your child should visit the dentist every six months for regular dental cleanings and checkups. We recommend fluoride treatments twice a year along with cleanings to keep teeth their strongest. Tooth sealants are also recommended because they “seal” the deep grooves in your child’s teeth, preventing decay from forming in these hard-to-reach areas. Sealants last for several years but will be monitored at your child’s regular checkups.