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When Should Children Have Their First Dental Visit?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) suggests that parents should make an initial “well-baby” appointment with a pediatric dentist approximately six months after the emergence of the first tooth, or no later than the child’s first birthday.

Although this may seem surprisingly early, the incidence of infant and toddler tooth decay has been rising in recent years.  Tooth decay and early cavities can be exceptionally painful if they are not attended to immediately, and can also set the scene for poor oral health in later childhood.

The pediatric dentist is a specialist in child psychology and child behavior, and should be viewed as an important source of information, help, and guidance.  Oftentimes, the pediatric dentist can provide strategies for eliminating unwanted oral habits (for example, pacifier use and thumb sucking) and can also help parents in establishing a sound daily oral routine for the child.

What potential dental problems can babies experience?

A baby is at risk for tooth decay as soon as the first tooth emerges.  During the first visit, the pediatric dentist will help parents implement a preventative strategy to protect the teeth from harm, and also demonstrate how infant teeth should be brushed and flossed.

In particular, infants who drink breast milk, juice, baby formula, soda, or sweetened water from a baby bottle or sippy cup are at high-risk for early childhood caries (cavities).  To counteract this threat, the pediatric dentist discourages parents from filling cups with sugary fluids, dipping pacifiers in honey, and transmitting oral bacteria to the child via shared spoons and/or cleaning pacifiers in their own mouths.

Importantly, the pediatric dentist can also assess and balance the infant’s fluoride intake.  Too much fluoride ingestion between the ages of one and four years old may lead to a condition known as fluorosis in later childhood.  Conversely, too little fluoride may render young tooth enamel susceptible to tooth decay.

What happens during the first visit?

Pediatric dentists have fun-filled, stimulating dental offices.  All dental personnel are fully trained to communicate with infants and young children.

During the initial visit, the pediatric dentist will advise parents to implement a good oral care routine, ask questions about the child’s oral habits, and examine the child’s emerging teeth.  The pediatric dentist and parent sit knee-to-knee for this examination to enable the child to view the parent at all times.  If the infant’s teeth appear stained, the dentist may clean them.  Oftentimes, a topical fluoride treatment will be applied to the teeth after this cleaning.

What questions may the pediatric dentist ask during the first visit?

The pediatric dentist will ask questions about current oral care, diet, the general health of the child, the child’s oral habits, and the child’s current fluoride intake.

Once answers to these questions have been established, the pediatric dentist can advise parents on the following issues:

  • Accident prevention.
  • Adding xylitol and fluoride to the infant’s diet.
  • Choosing an ADA approved, non-fluoridated brand of toothpaste for the infant.
  • Choosing an appropriate toothbrush.
  • Choosing an orthodontically correct pacifier.
  • Correct positioning of the head during tooth brushing.
  • Easing the transition from sippy cup to adult-sized drinking glasses (12-14 months).
  • Eliminating fussing during the oral care routine.
  • Establishing a drink-free bedtime routine.
  • Maintaining good dietary habits.
  • Minimizing the risk of tooth decay.
  • Reducing sugar and carbohydrate intake.
  • Teething and developmental milestones.

If you have further questions or concerns about the timing or nature of your child’s first oral checkup, please ask your pediatric dentist.

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Testimonials

You all are so amazing. Rosie can answer any questions I have about insurance instantly, scheduling is easy, I love the text messages regarding scheduling and reminders. Everyone treats me so nicely and gently, that I have been able to come in and take care of my teeth, despite my anxiety. I feel confident asking any and all questions before, during and after procedures and get answers and explanations that make sense to me. I am included in all decisions and planning and feel comfortable to make small requests to make my visit less stressful. A blanket, head pillow, sunglasses, correct temperature, using the quiet room, these are all small things that can help calm my anxiety and I feel comfortable asking for those things because I know your team wants me to be comfortable and relaxed. The laser has been really life-changing for me, in regards to dental work. No anxiety about numbing, shots, drills, it seems smaller in my mouth, which helps my jaw and even the sound it makes is pleasant. I fully trust the entire team that they are being open and honest with me, not just trying to take my money, but really trying to take care of my teeth and me. I always highly recommend Sycamore Dental.

S.K 07/2018

I can't express enough how impressed I am with the customer service and Dr. Gita Sarkaria. I have already recommended to all my colleges because I know they will not regret making Sycamore Dental their primary Dentist. My husband and I will be coming in from here on out :) Thank you!

N.J. 2018

You have to go here for your dental work. Not only is their work phenomenal, but I had a genuinely pleasant experience. They use up to date technology to make the work faster and higher quality. Everyone was caring and were more concerned that the job is done right than cramming in another patient. I cannot recommend them enough. If you want to upgrade your dental experience, go here!

D. B 02/2018

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