We recommend 12 to 18 months of ages as the best time for you to bring your child for the first dental visit. This is a particularly important time to begin dental care because the primary molars are erupting and your child is leaving infancy and entering the Toddler age. Personality, diet and behavior are changing and we would like to help you instill healthy habits to prevent your child from getting cavities.
A friendly, information gathering, non-emergency visit at this age can give the dentist a chance to check for early signs of decay. The dentist will explain preventative dental concepts, talk about nursing and feeding, and demonstrate a calm and less stressful method to clean your child’s teeth. After this initial visit, your child should see the dentist twice a year.
Each time you wash your baby’s face, use the wet washcloth to wipe the gums, lips, and tongue. Your baby can’t tell you when there is a bad taste in the mouth. Wiping the mouth will make the mouth feel clean and fresh. Once the first tooth pops through, use a brush with a small smear of kid’s fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Dentists formerly recommended non-fluoridated toothpaste until age 2-3 because too much swallowed fluoride at that age can cause fluorosis or discolored enamel. However, since fluoridated toothpaste can lower a child’s risk of decay by up to 30%, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry now suggests that using a small amount daily is perfectly safe.
Children get cavities when they eat sugar too often. Sticky treats like lollipops and gummy candies aren’t the only culprits. We see more cavities from cookies and crackers than from anything else. The manufacturers can’t fool us; we know that animal crackers and graham crackers are really cookies! Foods like bread, chips, and crackers also cling to the teeth. The starch is then converted into sugar, which the germs can use for energy, producing acid and causing decay. The worst drinks for your teeth are lemonade, sports drinks, and soda. All juices contain cavity-causing sugar. Drinking some water after eating will help wash some sugar and food away, but these foods get lodged in the crevices and between the teeth. Sugar is also absorbed by the dental plaque… a colony of germs… and then changed into acid. Acid from all these sources dissolves tooth enamel. Cavities are on the rise among 2 to 5 year old children for the first time in many years, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most parents don’t realize that dental decay is really a chronic disease… and it is more common… than any other condition in kids including the common cold, asthma, diabetes, and obesity.
We recommend applying a fluoride varnish during your child’s dental visit to strengthen enamel and maintain the tooth’s integrity. Children’s dentists have found that painting your child’s teeth with a concentrated fluoride varnish strengthens weak spots before a cavity forms. The fluoride treatment also adds a protective barrier against decay caused by bacteria and acid. Studies show that toddlers who get this treatment twice a year are four times less likely to have tooth decay. Fluoride treatments come in a variety of flavors, so children have their choice of their favorite flavor, ensuring a positive experience.
The main use of sealants is to protect a susceptible tooth against decay causing bacteria and acids. During the simple procedure, a plastic covering is placed over the teeth (generally the back molars) to protect the tooth during eating and development. Regular check ups are recommended to ensure the sealant stays in place and is able to properly protect the teeth. Teeth grinding and chewing on ice or hard candies can factor into the length in which sealants last and the amount of protection they give the developing teeth.
When children begin to participate in sporting events it’s very important to protect their teeth from damage. This is especially true once primary teeth begin to settle into place. Athletic mouth guards protect a child’s mouth from cracks, chips, and even knock-outs in the event that they fall to the ground or are hit with a ball. Contact your dentist at CT Pediatric Dentistry to discuss your child’s custom athletic mouth guards.