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Early Dental Care

We commonly get oral health questions regarding infants and toddlers. Below is a list of common questions and answers.

When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?

"First visit by first birthday" sums it up.  The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends your child should visit a pediatric dentist six months after the first tooth erupts.  Early examination and preventive care will protect your child's smile now and in the future.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants receive oral health risk assessments by 6 months of age.

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

Dental problems can begin early and progress quickly. Your child risks severe decay from using a bottle during naps or at night or when they nurse continuously from the breast. The earlier a child finds a “Dental Home”, the better the chance of preventing dental problems. Early preventative care also is a sound health and economic investment. Some parents avoid taking children to the dentist to save money, yet studies show that the dental costs for children who have their first dental visit before age one are 40% lower in the first five years than for those who do not see a dentist prior to their first birthday. Start your child now on a lifetime of good dental habits.

Are baby teeth really that important to my child?

Primary, or "baby," teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt.

What should I use to clean my baby's teeth?

A toothbrush will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay. Any soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one designed specifically for infants, should be used at least once a day at bedtime.

When should I start cleaning my baby's teeth?

The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child's gums with a soft infant toothbrush and water. Remember that most small children do not have the dexterity to brush their teeth effectively. Unless it is advised by your child's pediatric dentist, do not use fluoridated toothpaste until age 2-3.

Are thumb sucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child's teeth?

Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time. Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers past the age of three, a mouth appliance may be recommended by your pediatric dentist.

How can I prevent decay caused by nursing?

Avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bed-time bottle. Also, learn the proper way to brush and floss your child's teeth. Take your child to a pediatric dentist regularly to have his/her teeth and gums checked. The first dental visit should be scheduled by your child's first birthday.

Is Fruit Juice bad for my child's teeth?

Excessive juice consumption may be associated with tooth decay.  To prevent fruit juice from causing a problem, the AAP recommends limiting the intake of fruit juice to 4 to 6 ounces for children 1 to 6 years old. For children 7 to 18 years old, juice intake should be limited to 8 to 12 ounces or 2 servings per day. Also, children should be encouraged to eat whole fruits to meet their recommended daily fruit intake.

If you have any further questions please give our office a call at 412-329-7267  

Sources of this information can be found at www.aapd.org and www.aap.org .


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