It is recommended that all children see the dentist by age 1. The benefits for your child include:
- Education for prevention of dental diseases
- Appropriate use of fluoride for your child
- Ways to prevent oral and facial accidents and trauma
- Prevention of orthodontic problems (due to oral habits)
- Teething and developmental milestones
- Patient of record for ease of obtaining future emergency care
As of January 1st 2007, a new state law requires that children have a dental check-up by May 31 of their first year in public school, at kindergarten, or first grade. Dental evaluations that have happened within the 12 months prior to school entry also meet this requirement.
Tips for Toddlers
Toothbrushing and Flossing
- Begin cleaning the teeth as soon as they erupt
- Do NOT start using a toothpaste with fluoride until your child can spit (why? –risk getting fluorosis=white and brown specks on the adult teeth)
- Discuss the use of a fluoride-free toothpaste for toddlers with your dentist
- Begin flossing as soon as any 2 teeth touch — especially after eating chicken or fibrous foods like apples or mangoes
- Parents need to supervise toothbrushing and flossing until your child can clean the dishes after supper or wash your car or near the age of 8
- Avoid juice and soda (they contain lots of sugar and acid)
- AAP Guidelines — no more than 4 ounces of sweet liquid per day for toddlers
- Avoid frequent sipping on sweet liquids
- Avoid sticky or dried fruit or fruit snacks (roll-ups or leathers)
- Avoid eating or drinking during the night (saliva is decreased at night)
- Avoid sour candies — Skittles, Starbursts (acid burns holes in teeth!)
- Fluoride REMINERALIZES and protects the tooth from acid destruction
- Drink fluoridated bottled water if your water supply is NOT fluoridated
- Please note that BRITA water filters and filters attached to your faucet do NOT remove fluoride from the water
- Reverse osmosis filters (located under your sink) do remove fluoride
Habits (Pacifiers, Thumbs, Fingers)
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends pacifier use in the first year of life to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) AAP.org policy statement
- The goal is to encourage the cessation of digit sucking habits by age 5 before the permanent teeth begin to erupt to avoid crossbites or protrusive incisors
- Use positive reinforcement to help stop the habit
Early Childhood Caries (tooth decay) Direct causes of DEMINERIZATION (cavities)
- FREQUENT juice and/or snacks
- Sweet liquids such as juice or soda in a sippy cup or bottle
- Sticky foods (raisins, gummies — even gummy vitamins)
- Liquid medicine — contains 50% sugar
- GE Reflux — stomach acid on the teeth
Factors that contribute to DEMINERALIZATION (cavities)
- Parent with cavity history
- Tight or crowded teeth
- Tooth defects (soft or groovy teeth)
- Medical conditions (congenital heart disease or asthma)
- Inconsistent oral hygiene
- Tight lips (contributes to food holding and makes toothbrushing difficult)
- Inability to use tongue to naturally clean teeth (tongue-tied)
- Food holder or slow swallower
- Xerostomia (dry mouth)
First x-rays are needed:
- After a cavity develops or a dental injury occurs
- Child proof your home (ie. Remove sharp corners from coffee tables)
- Frenum tear (skin under upper lip) — Will bleed a lot! Keep head above the heart and put washcloth over tear to stop the bleeding. Rarely needs stitches.
- Concussion injury (bumped tooth) — Tooth may turn yellow or dark gray. Watch for abscess formation if the tooth is dark.
- Luxation (tooth pushed forward or backward) — Reposition the tooth ASAP!
- Intrusion (tooth pushed into the gum) — Allow tooth to re-erupt.
- Avulsion (tooth knocked out) — Locate tooth but do NOT replant a baby tooth.
For more information regarding the oral health of your infant or child, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has an entire parent resource center available to satisfy your needs.