When should my child first see a
"First visit by first birthday" sums it
up. Your child should visit a pediatric
dentist when the first tooth comes in,
usually between six and twelve months of
age. Early examination and preventive
care will protect your child's smile now
and in the future.
Why so early? What dental problems could
a baby have?
The most important reason is a practical
prevention program. Dental problems can
begin early. A big concern is nursing or
baby bottle tooth decay. Your baby risks
severe decay when he or she nurses
continuously from the breast or from a
bottle of milk, formula, or juice during
naps or at night.
is gum disease. Recent studies show
nearly half of all children ages two and
three have at least mild inflammation of
gum tissues. The earlier the dental
visit, the better the chance of
preventing dental problems. Children
with healthy teeth chew food easily,
learn to speak clearly, and smile with
confidence. Start your child now on a
lifetime of good dental habits.
How can I prevent tooth decay from
nursing or a bottle?
Don't nurse your child to sleep or put
your baby to bed with a bottle of milk,
formula, juice, or sweetened liquid. Use
only water in the bottle, or give your
baby a pacifier. Check with your
pediatric dentist to make sure your
child is getting enough fluoride for
decay protection. Lastly, learn how to
brush and floss your child's teeth.
When should bottle or breast feeding be
To assure good dental health, infants
should be weaned from a bottle or
nursing at one year of age.
Should I worry about thumb or finger
Thumbsucking is perfectly normal for
infants: most stop by age two. If your
child doesn't, discourage it after age
four. Prolonged thumbsucking can create
crowded, crooked teeth or bite problems.
Your pediatric dentist will be glad to
suggest ways to address a prolonged
When should I start cleaning my baby's
The sooner the better! Starting at
birth, clean your baby's gums with a
clean damp wash cloth. Use a tiny dab of
fluoride toothpaste if your pediatric
dentist advises fluoride protection.
Later, brush your child's teeth with
fluoride toothpaste and small,
soft-bristled toothbrush. Remember that
most small children do not have the
dexterity to brush their teeth
Any advice on teething?
A: From six months to
age three, your child may have sore gums
when teeth erupt. Many babies like a
clean teething ring, cool spoon or cold
wet wash cloth. Some parents swear by a
chilled teething ring: others simply rub
the baby's gums with a clean finger.