Visiting The Dentist
Your child's first dental visit should be when the first tooth erupts, or by age 1. Before the first checkup, a "practice" visit can be arranged to help your child get use to the dental office. A checkup and cleaning is then needed about twice a year.
Lets Talk About Brushing
Food and bacteria form a sticky substance on teeth called plaque. Bacteria in the plaque make acid that eats away the tooth's enamel (hard coating). This causes tooth decay. Brushing keeps plaque from forming. Begin cleaning your baby's teeth and gums as soon as the first tooth appears. At firs, use water and a piece of cotton gauze. As more teeth come in, use a small toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. When the child is old enough to brush on his or her own, watch to be sure it's done right.
A child's first teeth are called primary (baby) teeth. These teeth start to erupt (come in) between 4 and 18 months of age. In most children, all baby teeth are in place by age 3. At age 6 or 7, baby teeth begin to fall out. They are replaced by permanent (adult) teeth. Most adult teeth are in place by the time the child is in his or her early teens.
Coping With Teething
The time when the baby teeth are coming in is called teething. During teething, your baby may be grouchy. He or she may drool more than usual and may chew on things to help feel better. Cold teething rings, pacifiers, and numbing creams can help make teething easier for your baby.
Never let your child sleep with a bottle. Bottle liquids (even mild) that sit in the mouth can quickly cause tooth decay. Don't let your child drink or snack with out brushing afterward.
Thumb Sucking and Pacifiers
Sucking on a thumb or pacifier is common and normal for a baby. But if either habit continues past age 3 or 4, it may lead to tooth or jaw problem. If your child uses a pacifier, an orthopedic pacifier is best for teeth and jaws.
When To Call The Dentist
Starting around age 1, your child should have regular dental checkups every 6 months.
Consult with your dentist if baby or adult teeth are crooked or fail to come in.
Call the dentist if you notice brown or black spots on your child's teeth
If an adult tooth is loose, call your dentist. If a tooth is knocked out, get emergency dental car. Don't wash the tooth. Put it in milk until it can be put back in place.
What About Fluoride?
Fluoride makes tooth enamel stronger. This helps prevent cavities. Find out if your community's water has fluoride added to it. If not ask your dentist whether your child should be given fluoride supplements. Your dentist may also apply fluoride supplements. Your dentist may also apply fluoride to your child's adult teeth at regular checkups.
Don't Forget Flossing
Flossing removes bacteria and plaque from between the teeth and under the gums. Floss your child's teeth daily. When the child is old enough, a floss holder can help him or her floss.
Sealants are safe, painless, and low-cost way to help protect your child's back teeth from decay. A thin plastic coating is bonded to the chewing surfaces of the molars and premolars. The sealant forms a hard shield that keeps food and bacteria from getting into the tiny grooves of teeth.