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Having raised 3 boys and the youngest is 9 and has his first Orthodontist Appointment next week for overcrowding teeth, I have learned a lot and am still learning about the link between dental health and overall health. Did you even know that a simple trip to the dentist can turn into a recommendation to see a Physician? When young, dental health can reveal signs of many illnesses.
Knowing this I went from thinking a good time to start dental appointments was sometime after the first teeth have emerged to even sooner then that first tooth appearance!
I really want to share these important tips below with you. It is so important that you truly understand how Dentists can make connections to improving or maintaining systemic health, many systemic diseases have oral manifestations.
Dental Tips for Baby & Toddlers
Most Asked Questions & Answers from Dr. Larry Williams of The Academy of General Dentistry and Midwestern University:
1. When should you first take your child to the dentist?
According to leading experts, the first visit should be when the first tooth erupts or at the first birthday.
2. When should parents expect their child’s first tooth to come in?
Based on nature’s timetable, teeth can erupt at 3 months or later. If no teeth are erupted by the one-year mark, the dental visit will begin the relationship between the parent, the infant, and the dental team.
3. What can a parent expect during the first visit for their baby/toddler?
Often a first visit is simply a time to acquaint your child with the dentist and the practice. As a parent, you should reassure your child that the visit is not scary or something about which to be afraid. Short, successive visits can build the child’s comfort with the dentist and the dental office. Schedule the appointment earlier in the day, when your child is alert and refreshed. You may need to sit in the dental chair and hold your child during the first examination. The first visit usually lasts between 15 and 30 minutes and may include any of the following, depending on the child’s age:
- A gentle but thorough examination of the teeth, jaw, bite, gums, and oral tissues to monitor growth and development and observe any problem areas
- A gentle cleaning, which includes polishing teeth and removing any plaque, tartar build-up, and stains
- A demonstration on how to properly care for your child’s mouth and teeth at home
- Nutritional counseling
- An assessment of the need for fluoride
4. How do you instill good teeth brushing habits at home?
The best way to instill habits is by starting your baby’s oral care regimen at a young age:
- Clean your infant’s gums with a clean, damp cloth twice a day. Ask your dentist when you may begin to rub a tiny dab of toothpaste on your child’s gums. Doing so will help your child become accustomed to the flavor of toothpaste.
- As soon as the first teeth come in, begin brushing them with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste.
- Let your child begin brushing their own teeth around the age of 5 with proper instruction and supervision.
5. What promotes tooth decay in babies and toddlers?
Just say “no” to bottles in bed. Never put your baby to sleep with a bottle or sippy cup filled with milk, formula, fruit juice, or other sweet liquid. The sugar in these beverages can cause cavities in your baby’s bottle before bedtime. If you must give your baby a bottle when he or she is going to sleep, fill the bottle with water instead.
Get more of your questions answered by starting at The Academy of General Dentistry.