As a parent, you inevitably have a lot on your mind. Keeping a baby happy and healthy isn’t easy, and trying to tick all the boxes on the checklist of things that you need to do to care for your child can seem like a never-ending task. Since most children enter the world without teeth, dental care often slips to the bottom of the list for at least a little while, but oral health is important for people of all ages. After all, baby teeth arrive fairly quickly, and while they may be temporary, these tiny teeth can have a life-long impact on your child’s health. By determining when to take a baby to the dentist and ensuring that they receive regular dental care, you can protect your child’s teeth today and set the stage for a healthy future.
When to Take a Baby to the Dentist
February is National Children’s Dental Hygiene Month, so it’s the perfect time for parents to gather the facts that they need to safeguard their child’s oral health. Why do baby teeth matter? What do you need to do to care for an infant’s gums and teeth? How do you know when to take a baby to the dentist? What should you expect during their initial visit? Discovering the answers to these common questions can help you be an effective advocate for your child’s dental health.
Why Baby Teeth Matter
Most babies will get their first tooth sometime between their third and ninth month, but it won’t be a permanent fixture. It’s normal for baby teeth to fall out during the elementary school years to make way for the adult teeth. If baby teeth are only temporary, why do they matter? Baby teeth affect your child’s speech and appearance. They also impact chewing, which can have nutritional implications. In addition, baby teeth serve as guides for the development and eruption of permanent teeth. Finally, caring for baby teeth provides an opportunity to hone the skills and develop the habits needed to successfully maintain the adult teeth.
Oral Health Care for Infant
Even before your baby’s first tooth erupts, oral hygiene matters. To keep your infant’s mouth healthy, wipe their gums down gently with warm water and a soft cloth at least once a day. As teeth begin to emerge, use a toothbrush intended for infants to gently cleanse the teeth and gums with warm water at least twice a day. Do not use fluoride toothpaste. It isn’t meant to be swallowed, and small children aren’t yet capable of spitting it out properly. When you begin visiting the dentist, be sure to ask for a review of your brushing regimen.
Baby’s First Trip to the Dentist
Do you know when to take a baby to the dentist for their first appointment? According to the American Dental Association, the initial dental visit should occur after the first tooth erupts but before the first birthday unless concerns about your child’s teeth indicate a need for an earlier visit.
What red flags might suggest that your child needs to see a dentist immediately? Teething is generally an uncomfortable experience that often involves gum and ear pain, drooling, and extra fussiness, and a few drops of blood are not uncommon as a tooth breaks through the gum. However, if your child’s gums seem excessively painful, you notice blisters on the gums, or there is substantial bleeding, a prompt visit to the dentist might be necessary.
What to Expect During Your Child’s First Dental Appointment
With a little preparation, your child’s first dental appointment can be a fun adventure. Try to make it a positive experience by choosing a time of day when your child is generally well rested and cooperative. Most dentists will have the parent sit in the chair with the child on their lap while they perform a quick exam and cleaning. Then, they will offer information and advice to help you keep your child’s teeth healthy and answer any questions that you may have.
Partnering with your family dentist to care for your child’s teeth can help ensure that their smile stays healthy for years to come. Are you looking for an experienced, reliable, and friendly dentist for your child? If you live in or near Springfield, Missouri, contact Wilkinson Dental. Dr. Wilkinson and his team will give you the personalized treatment you deserve using state-of-the-art technology. For exceptional and comprehensive dental care, schedule your first appointment today by calling 417-708-0556 or requesting an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you!