After your baby comes into the world, you quickly get into the habit of scheduling regular appointments with a pediatrician that continues throughout childhood. However, many parents experience some confusion when it comes to taking their child to the dentist and what they need do to in order to take care their child’s teeth. To help you gain a better understanding of what every parent should do in regards to their child’s oral health, here are a few answers to some common questions.
Why do you need to take a young child to the dentist when her baby teeth will eventually fall out?
While humans may lose their baby teeth eventually, the health of the teeth remains very important to our long-term oral health and the development of permanent teeth later in life. Once a baby tooth becomes infected with bacteria, the damage that occurs can happen rather quickly, as the bacteria seeps through the tooth and moves on to the bone where a dental infection can develop. In a worse case scenario, an oral infection could become fatal. While that rarely occurs, when bacteria is allowed to lurk in baby teeth, the enamel for a child’s adult teeth may not form correctly and permanent damage could occur.
How much fluoride does a child need and how much is too much?
Based on established research, optimum fluoride levels in water are roughly one part per million. More than that could lead to potential problems, such as fluorosis, a discoloration of a child’s permanent teeth. However, much less than that, and the fluoride a child receives won’t be enough to protect her teeth. You can find out how much fluoride is in your local water supply by calling the municipal water department or by purchasing a water testing kit.
When should a child first visit the dentist?
Shortly after your child’s first tooth breaks through the gum line or by his first birthday, whichever happens first. Many parents find it surprising that they need to visit the dentist so early. While previous guidelines suggested three as an optimal age that was mostly due to that being the age many dentists found they could start to manage a child’s behavior. However, American Academy of Pediatric Dentists now recommend children start visiting earlier, as tooth decay can already damage or destroy a child’s baby teeth by three.
How do you prepare a child for a first dental visit?
Make visiting the dentist seem like a fun and exciting experience, one that marks how much your child has grown up. Explain to your child how the dentist will “count,” “brush” and “take pictures” of her teeth. By explaining a dental visit like this to your child, she will better understand what to expect. Resist telling your child that a trip to the dentist won’t hurt, as this may never have entered her mind to begin with. Make sure to reassure your child that the dentist and staff will be friendly and gentle.
When is a child ready for toothpaste?
Once your child is old enough to spit – typically around the age of three – you can start using toothpaste. Before that age, use water and a damp cloth to help keep your child’s teeth clean.
If you are looking for Clackamas or Happy Valley dentistry choices for you or your child, please contact us today!