Many parents are surprised that we recommend a dental check-for children by the time they are one year old or within six months of the first tooth erupting. They sometimes ask why this is necessary when their child has no or very few teeth. At Bay Area Kids Dentist, we know that great smiles start early.
Unfortunately, children can develop tooth decay as early as age three from taking naps with a bottle in their mouth or continuously nursing from their mother. The sooner you start bringing your baby in for regular dental check-ups, the easier it is for us to detect and treat any dental problems.
Preparing Your Child for a Successful First Dental Appointment
Since you can’t explain to your child what is happening, we recommend that you work around his or her typical schedule as much as possible. Morning appointments after your baby has had a good night’s sleep and before it’s time for lunch and a nap are usually best. Even though your child can’t speak yet, he or she can detect your emotions. If you feel nervous about the appointment, your child will feel anxious as well. Talk in a happy and excited tone to your child about having his or her teeth cleaned and then imitate how you brush your own teeth.
What to Expect at a Dental Exam for Children Under Three Years Old
A good children’s dentist understands that infants and toddlers may become distressed when taken away from their primary caregiver. At Bay Area Kids Dentist, we would never expect such a young child to get through the appointment without a parent being right there. We encourage you to walk or carry your child back to the exam room and keep him or her on your lap the entire time.
The purpose of a well-baby oral exam is to check the gums, jaws, and any primary teeth that have erupted to ensure everything is developing as expected. We may or may not polish your child’s teeth, depending on how many he or she has as well as their condition. When we do polish the teeth, it helps to remove plaque, tartar, and stains that have already developed. X-rays typically aren’t necessary until much later in childhood.
How to Care for Your Baby’s Teeth at Home
It’s never too early to start an oral care routine, even if your baby doesn’t have any teeth yet. In that case, you can use a clean, damp cloth to clean the gums. When the primary teeth start coming in, place a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on a baby toothbrush to get the teeth clean. Our dentists recommend continuing to help your child with brushing until approximately age seven. Try to limit the amount of time your child has a bottle and don’t put him or her down for a nap with one.
The entire staff at Bay Area Kids Dentist is happy to answer any additional questions you have about caring for your young child’s oral hygiene.