KAREN LARTIN, DDS

413.458.6079

Family Dentistry • 279 Main Street • Williamstown, MA 01267

Information for Parents

YOUR CHILD’S FIRST DENTAL VISIT

The American Dental Association recommends a child’s first dental visit by age one! The following information, taken from the ADA website, should answer many questions you may have. If you still need more information, you can visit the ADA website, or the American Academy of Pediatrics website or feel free to call our office at 413-458-6079.

Tips for a Positive Dental Visit

  • Schedule your child’s first visit between the arrival of the first tooth and first birthday.
  • If possible, schedule a morning appointment when children tend to be rested and cooperative.
  • Stay positive! The dentist will help to keep your child’s teeth healthy; keep to yourself any anxiety that you might feel about dental visits.
  • Never bribe your child to go to the dentist or use the visit as a punishment or threat.
  • Try to make your child’s dental visit an enjoyable outing. Teaching your child good oral hygiene habits early can lead to a lifetime of good dental health.

Why should children so young visit a dentist?

Tooth decay can occur as soon as your child’s first tooth erupts.

Protect your child’s teeth by starting dental checkups early. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry say that the first dental visit should occur within six months of the baby’s first tooth appearing, but no later than the child’s first birthday. It’s best to meet the dentist when your child is having no dental problems— don’t wait for emergency!

Parents may wonder why they should worry about decay in baby teeth, since they will be replaced by permanent teeth. Decay in primary teeth could mean a higher risk of decay in permanent teeth; additionally, if the decay is severe, it can harm the child’s overall health.

Baby teeth, also called “primary teeth”, are just as important as adult teeth. Strong, healthy, primary teeth can help your child chew and speak. They also hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums.

What causes tooth decay?

Bacteria in the mouth changes food and drinks into acid. Every time you eat or drink, this acid can attack the teeth for 20 minutes or longer. After many attacks, tooth decay can develop and lead to cavities.

Children are at higher risk for decay if their teeth are exposed to sugar often or for long periods of time. Babies should not be put to bed with a bottle other than water. If your baby falls asleep with the bottle in their mouth, the liquid can pool around the teeth. Liquids such as fruit juice, soda, milk and any sweetened liquids all contain sugar. For this same reason, children should not be allowed to constantly sip on drinks or snack on sugary foods.

Meet your dentist

A dentist can show you how to clean your child’s teeth, discuss diet and fluoride needs, and recommend oral care products. They can answer your questions about your baby’s teeth, and check for problems such as tooth decay.

Having a checkup at this age also connects your child to a dental home. This is a “home base” for dental care, a place where you can take your child from year to year. This helps the dentist get to know your child’s and family’s specific needs so they can provide the best possible care.

If your child is a toddler, a dentist will gently examine their teeth and gums, looking for decay and other problems. If necessary, the child’s teeth may be cleaned. Your toddler can also be checked for problems related to habits such as prolonged thumb or finger sucking.

Two more important ways a dentist can prevent cavities include fluoride treatments and dental sealants. Your dentist will let you know if these treatments are right for your child.

Each child has different oral health needs, but it’s almost always true that preventative care from your dentist can save time, money, and teeth.

Your dentist will recommend a schedule for your child’s dental visits.

Related Links:
American Dental Association: www.ada.org
American Academy of Pediatrics: www.aap.org
American Association of Pediartic Dentists: www.aapd.org
Caring for Your Child’s Teeth: http://mouthmonsters.mychildrensteeth.org/tips-for-parents/