When should my child see a dentist?

On or after their first birthday, and every 6 months after, unless otherwise directed.

Why so early? What dental problems could a baby have?

The most important reason is to begin a thorough prevention program. Dental problems can begin early. A big concern is Early Childhood Caries (formerly known as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing caries). Erupted teeth are at risk for decay. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems. Children with healthy teeth chew food easily and smile with confidence. Starting your child early will create a lifetime of good dental habits.

What if my child is born with a tooth?

If your child is born with a tooth, it is a natal tooth.  A neonatal tooth is a tooth that grows in during the first 30 days after birth.  Natal and neonatal teeth are uncommon, and should be examined by your pediatric dentist. 

How can I prevent tooth decay from nursing or using a bottle?

At-will breast-feeding should be avoided after the first primary (baby) teeth begin to erupt and other sources of nutrition have been introduced. Children should not lay down or fall asleep with a bottle or sippy cup, plain white milk or water are recommended, beverages high in sugar such as juice, soda, and flavored waters or Kool-Aid’s should be avoided.

When should bottle-feeding be stopped?

At one year of age or before. Transition to a hard-top sippy cup, or a regular cup. Cups with straws or a push top are great also.

Should I worry about thumb and finger sucking?

Thumb sucking is perfectly normal for infants; many stop by age 2. Prolonged thumb sucking can create crooked teeth or bite problems. If the habit continues beyond age 3, a professional evaluation is recommended. Your pediatric dentist will be glad to suggest ways to address a prolonged thumb sucking habit.

When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?

The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a warm washcloth, As soon as the teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice daily using a non-fluoridated toothpaste on a soft toothbrush and floss in between the teeth nightly. Fluoridated toothpaste is not recommended until the child is able to spit after brushing and rinsing. At age 2-5, dispense a “pea-size” amount of toothpaste and perform or assist your child’s brushing and flossing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively, it is recommended for an adult to assist the child in brushing and flossing until the age of 8.

Any advice on teething?

From six months to age 3, your child may have tender gums when teeth erupt. Many children like a clean teething ring, or a cold wet washcloth.

How do I take the fear out of the first dental visit?

Talk with your child about their first visit and what to expect. Allow your child to go with you for your regular check-ups, practice with the child opening their mouth and preparing for someone to take a look. At your child’s first visit x-rays maybe necessary, along with a proper cleaning and the dentist examining your child’s mouth for any early signs of cavities.

How do my child’s dietary habits affect their oral heath?

Healthy eating habits will lead to healthy teeth, many snacks that children eat can lead to the formation of cavities. Choose nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese. Chewy fruit snacks and juices contain high levels of sugars and lead to cavities.