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 little one to feel at ease from the moment your family arrives at our office. The more you and your youngster know about the first visit, the better you will feel.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends
Children should visit the dentist by their first birthday. It is important that your child’s newly erupted teeth (which appear between six and 12 months of age) receive proper dental care and benefit from proper oral hygiene habits right from the beginning.
Getting to know your teeth is fun!
When New Teeth Arrive
Your child’s primary or baby teeth will begin to emerge between the ages of six and 12 months, and continue to appear until about age three. During this time, your child’s gums may feel tender and sore.
To help alleviate this discomfort, we recommend that you soothe the gums by rubbing a clean finger or a cool, wet cloth across them. You may also choose to make use of a teething ring. When your toddler has finished teething, you can expect a total of 20 primary teeth.
Your child’s primary teeth are shed at various times throughout childhood. Permanent teeth begin erupting at age six, and continue until age 21. Adults have 28 permanent teeth (32, including wisdom teeth).
Adopting Healthy Oral Hygiene Habits
As your son or daughter’s teeth erupt, be sure to examine them every two weeks, and look for lines and discoloration that may be caused by decay. Remember that sugary foods and liquids can attack a new tooth, so take care that your child brushes after feeding or eating.
We recommend brushing four times a day for optimal oral hygiene: after breakfast, after lunch, after dinner, and at bedtime.
Brushing can be fun, and your child should brush as soon as the first tooth arrives. Fluoridated toothpaste is recommended for all children starting at tooth eruption, regardless of caries risk.
A smear (the size of a grain of rice) of toothpaste should be used up to age three. After the third birthday, a pea-sized amount may be used. We recommend dispensing toothpaste for young children and supervising and assist with brushing.
Flossing is also a feature of good oral hygiene habits, and Dr. Hennessey will discuss with you the right time to start flossing. If you notice signs of decay, contact us immediately.
Preventing Tooth Decay with Regular Checkups
Tooth decay is caused by sugars left in your mouth that turn into an 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, and prevent decay from forming in these hard-to-reach areas. Sealants last for several years, but will be monitored at your youngster’s regular checkups.