A child's first visit to the dentist should be comfortable and fun. The more you and your child know about the first visit, the better you will feel when that day arrives. Children are not born with a fear of the dentist, but they can fear the unknown. Our office makes a practice of using pleasant, non-frightening, simple words to describe your child's first dental visit and treatment. We want you and your child to feel at ease from the moment your family arrives at our office.
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), children should visit the dentist by their first birthday. It is important that your child's newly-erupted teeth (erupting at 6-12 months of age) receive proper dental care, and that your child benefits from proper oral hygiene habits right from the beginning.
To prepare for your child's visit, we have created an activity kit to help familiarize your child with their teeth and help them look forward to their dental visit.
» Getting to know your teeth is fun! Get comfortable with your teeth with our Dynamite Dental Fun Kit.
When New Teeth Arrive
Your child's first few teeth will erupt when they are between the ages 6-12 months and the remainder of their 20 primary or "baby" teeth typically erupt by age 3. During this time, gums may feel tender and sore, causing your child to feel irritable. 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.
Your child's primary teeth are shed at various times throughout childhood, and their permanent teeth begin erupting at age 6 and continue until age 21. Adults have 28 permanent teeth, 32 including wisdom teeth.
Adopting Healthy Oral Hygiene Habits
As new teeth erupt, examine them regularly for stain or discoloration that may suggest decay. Remember that sugary food and drink can attack a new tooth. Take care to brush your child’s teeth after meals. We recommend brushing at least two times daily. Brushing should be done after breakfast and at bedtime. You should brush your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth arrives using a small soft-bristled brush. Children younger than three years of age do not use fluoride toothpaste as they may swallow the paste. Parents should review brushing procedures and supervise brushing until the child is eight years old.
Flossing is an important part of a good oral hygiene. Flossing begins when adjacent teeth touch. Typically children need assistance in brushing until eight or nine years of age.
Brushing: Step 1
Place your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to your gum.
Brushing: Step 2
Brush gently in a circular motion.
Brushing: Step 3
Brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each tooth.
Brushing: Step 4
Use the tip of your brush for the inner surface of your front teeth.
Flossing: Step 1
Wind about 18 inches of floss around your fingers as shown. Most of it should be wrapped around one finger, and as the floss is used, the other finger takes it up.
Flossing: Step 2
Use your thumbs and forefingers to guide about one inch of floss between your teeth.
Flossing: Step 3
Holding the floss tightly, gently saw the floss between your teeth. Then curve the floss into a C-shape against one tooth and gently slide it beneath your gums.
Flossing: Step 4
Slide the floss up and down, repeating for each tooth.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is preventable. 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 tend to be lax in their oral hygiene habits. Proper brushing and flossing routines combined with regular dental visits help keep tooth decay away. A low-sugar diet also helps keep tooth decay at bay.
Your child should visit the dentist every 6 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, preventing decay from forming in these hard-to-reach areas. Sealants last for several years, but will be monitored at your regular checkups.