Feeding? Check. Diaper changed? Check. Sleepless nights? Check. Perhaps you were wondering about your baby’s dental care as you were brushing and flossing your own teeth before hitting the sack. In this article, I will provide you with answers to frequently asked questions about pediatric dental care.
When should you take your baby to the dentist?
Your child should visit the dentist when they have their first tooth and no later than the age of 12 months. Most infants get their first teeth, the lower central incisors, at 6 months of age.
For those that have babies born with natal/neonatal teeth, it is important to have a pediatric dentist involved as soon as possible. The establishment of a dental home no later than 12 months of age is important for children and their families.
Why should you get your baby’s teeth checked?
Cavities are a preventable disease. Early detection and management of disease not only improves health but also prevents the need for more extensive (and costly) treatment.
The first dental visit is also an opportunity to discuss dental growth and development and ask your questions on teething and thumb or pacifier habits. Moreover, dentists are trained in recognizing signs of child abuse, assessing developmental milestones for potential delays, and monitoring of weight and obesity via nutritional counseling.
Being proactive with an early visit will help establish a positive relationship with you, your child, and the dentist BEFORE there is an urgent need such as a chipped tooth from a nasty fall.
Who should your baby see for their first dental visit?
Pediatric dentists are dentists that specialize in children and individuals with special health needs. All pediatric dentists have had two to three years of specialty training after the completion of dental school. You can find a pediatric dentist near you by visiting aapd.org.
What should you expect at your baby’s first dental visit?
Your baby’s first dental visit is predominantly focused on ways to prevent decay and all questions are welcomed on diet, nursing patterns, and proper oral hygiene. If your baby needs it, a dental cleaning may be performed with a subsequent fluoride application.
A common way of doing the oral examination and dental cleaning is via the knee-to-knee position. Let the pediatric dentist and their staff direct the visit but be sure to voice any of your concerns or questions about your child’s teeth.
If you are a parent or an expecting parent, please be sure to schedule your child for this important early dental visit. You will be setting them up for a lifetime of excellent oral health by doing so!