Infants Should See a Pediatric Dentist before their 1st Birthday
Many parents are surprised to hear that their infant should visit the pediatric dentist before their first birthday to insure their child the best smile possible. Parents can expect this initial visit to include an oral exam with additional emphasis on developing a plan to support the child’s healthy oral development. At the child’s initial visit healthy dietary and oral hygiene habits will be discussed. At the same time, we will check for early childhood caries, also known as baby bottle decay. This condition can be detected as early as the first exam if unhealthy dietary habits such as frequent snacking on sugary foods and prolonged bottle feeding are occurring.
Until the child can tie his or her own shoes, they do not have the dexterity to brush their own teeth effectively; therefore, an adult should assist the child with both brushing and flossing if appropriate. Fluoride toothpaste can be used once the child can rinse and spit which is usually around two to three years of age. Some water supplies are not fluoridated and a pediatric dentist can determine if an adequate amount of fluoride is being obtained through alternative sources or if fluoride supplements would be beneficial.
Many other topics can be addressed at a child’s first visit such as pacifier and thumb habits, and growth and development. Parents will be informed about their child’s future needs regarding early or preventive orthodontic care.
As parents know all too well, as a child learns to walk and explore their surroundings the chance of oral trauma inevitably increases. Emergency dental care can be provided more comfortably if a relationship with a pediatric dentist has already been established.
At the Smile Shop our patient’s first visit begins with a tour where we introduce both the parents and the children to our friendly, fun, and inviting office designed specifically for children. The child will have their picture taken for the parents to take home to remember the first of many more happy visits to see the dentist. They will then meet the dentist and will either sit in the dental chair or in the parent’s lap depending on their child’s comfort level. After seeing the dentist, an oral hygiene instructor will see the child and demonstrate proper brushing, lending some advice to make brushing at home easier, more enjoyable, and more effective. A pediatric dental office is full of smiling people who are very comfortable working with kids and have many skills to make the visit easy for the parents and exciting for the children.
Our baby teeth play a vital role in chewing, speaking clearly, guiding the eruption of our permanent teeth and allowing children to smile with confidence. When we see children early we have a much better chance of preventing many dental problems. Infant oral exams are intended to get the child on the right path for a lifetime of healthy smiles.