Children do not instinctively fear the dentist, but they can pick up on others’ fears and they can fear the unknown as well. As such it’s important to start positive visits to the dentist early, before fears can take hold. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children have their first dental visit as early as six months old and no later than one year old. At this visit, your child’s dentist will evaluate the health of your child’s first few teeth and instruct you on the best way to care for them. At Black Mountain Family Dentistry, we want you and your child to be comfortable and at ease at your appointments, and we do everything possible to make dental appointments a positive experience for your child.
It is very important to create good oral hygiene habits with your child from a very early age. A good early foundation is key to a lifetime of excellent oral health.
Here are some important ways you can help your child:
- Have good oral health yourself! Besides setting a good example with good oral hygiene habits, tooth decay is a communicable disease. Parents can infect their children with the bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease, so it’s important that you brush, floss, and practice good oral hygiene.
- Your child’s first teeth will normally begin to appear between the ages of six to twelve months, and will continue to come in until about age three. Your child will have twenty teeth once they have all come in. Teething is often uncomfortable and you can help your child feel better by rubbing the gums with a clean finger or providing your child with a clean teething ring or other teething toy. As your child’s teeth erupt, you should check them every two weeks to look for discoloration or lines that may indicate tooth decay
- Make brushing fun! When a baby’s tooth erupts, parents should brush the tooth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. For children younger than two, do not use fluoride toothpaste unless advised to do so by your dentist or other healthcare professional. We recommend “buddy brushing” until the age of ten. Youngest children should have their teeth brushed by an adult. As children get older, they should brush on their own initially with an adult brushing after, gradually transitioning to the adult just checking as the child becomes more adept at brushing. Flossing is also an important part of good oral hygiene and your dentist will discuss with you the appropriate time to start for your child.
- Avoid sugary foods. Sugary foods and liquids feeds the bacteria that causes tooth decay, so make sure that your child brushes after eating or drinking. Don’t put babies down to sleep with a bottle. If you give your child juice, it’s a good idea to water it down and to have them swish with water after they are done.
- Your child should visit the dentist every six months for regular checkups and professional dental cleanings. We recommend fluoride treatments twice a year, at your child’s cleaning, to keep your child’s teeth strong. We recommend sealants to coat the deep grooves in your child’s teeth, to keep decay from forming and preventing cavities. Sealants can last for several years, but will be monitored at regular checkups.
- Your child will begin to lose their primary or baby teeth throughout their childhood. Their permanent teeth will begin erupting at age six and continue until their wisdom teeth come in, usually by their early twenties. It is important to continue with regular checkups to maintain the health of the permanent teeth. Sealants are often placed in the grooves of permanent molars to protect against tooth decay. As your child reaches their middle to late teen years, they will need to have their wisdom teeth evaluated, as they can cause problems. Adults usually have 32 permanent teeth, though the four wisdom teeth are often removed.
If it’s been more than six months since your child’s last dental visit or if your infant has never been seen, give Black Mountain Family Dentistry a call to schedule their next appointment!