Getting a Good Start on Pediatric Dental CareGood oral hygiene starts even before a baby's first teeth appear. With proper care in a child's earliest years, you can help foster good dental care habits that will last a lifetime. Toddlers don't get a full set of primary teeth until their third year, but the American Dental Association suggests taking your child to a pediatric dentist in your area before the baby's first birthday. It's especially important to see your local dentist early if your child was born prematurely or if you, yourself have had many cavities as these are key risk factors.
Oral Care for BabiesA few children are born with neonatal teeth, but for most babies, the first tooth doesn't make an appearance until six months of age. Before then, get your child used to oral care and maintain good hygiene with a soft, clean cloth or gauze rubbed over the gums, tongue and palate. Most babies seem to enjoy the sensation of a gentle oral washing and readily open up for a damp cloth or gauze pad. Your local dentist can show you the best techniques for keeping your baby's mouth clean and healthy.
Just as you brush after meals, your baby should have his or her mouth cleaned after feeding. Infants who fall asleep with bottles are at higher risk of developing cavities when their teeth appear, notes the American Academy of Pediatrics. Instead of giving a child a bottle with formula or milk between regular meal times, offer water.
As soon as your child's teeth appear, they're ready for brushing. Babies don't know they shouldn't swallow toothpaste, so wait until the child is older to use anything other than water and a small, soft brush. By getting a child used to regular brushing, you create the habit of good oral hygiene, so starting early is vital.
Your First Visit to a Pediatric DentistYour family dentist may offer oral care for babies and toddlers, but if not, find a dentist in your area who specializes in caring for children's teeth. During your initial visit, the dentist will examine your baby's palate, gums and any teeth that have appeared. The visit is as much for you as for your child, and your dentist welcomes questions about how to brush and floss, teething, thumb-sucking and other questions parents often have. If your child is at a higher risk of developing cavities, the dentist may recommend a dental sealant to protect new teeth.
Early, regular dental visits for children helps them see the dentist's office as a familiar place. Young children who go in for check-ups twice a year typically continue their good habits into adulthood, so these early trips to your local dentist are important for future health.