We are often asked by parents when they should bring their child to the dentist for their first dental visit. The answer is simple – they should start seeing a dentist by their first birthday!
When do baby teeth erupt?
A baby’s primary teeth start to appear between 6 and 9 months of age. By the age of 3 they should have 20 primary teeth. It may seem early to bring your child to the dentist but baby teeth play an important role in helping your child bite and chew food and in their speech formation. An early dental visit will often include important information about:
- Care for your infant’s mouth
- Proper use of fluoride
- Finger and thumb sucking habits
- Teething milestones
- Diet and oral health advice
How do I take care of my baby’s teeth at home?
It is recommended that between birth and 12 months, you gently wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, damp baby washcloth/gauze after breakfast and after their last feed of the night to remove any bacteria that can lead to dental decay. Never put a baby to sleep with a bottle as the milk on the teeth/gums at night also causes dental decay. From 12-24 months you should clean your baby’s teeth with a child size toothbrush. Unless your dentist has specifically said otherwise, do not use fluoride toothpaste yet as they do not have the ability yet to spit properly and could ingest too much toothpaste. Remember, home care is very important especially before your child is able to start seeing a dentist.
What to expect when we start seeing a dentist?
The first dental visit is important to check that your child’s dental growth and development is on track and to get them accustomed to regular dental visits. At About Smiles we have a special children’s’ room where your child can hold their favourite plush animals and even choose their favourite TV show or movie. We encourage you to bring your child in 10 minutes before their appointment time so they can watch the TV and play with the toys in the reception area before going in to the children’s surgery. We want their first dental experience to be a positive one and want them to associate it with things they like doing so that future visits are looked forward to and, hopefully, it will be the beginning of a lifetime of happy dentistry!