At the Washington Center for Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, we will typically see children when they are around 3 years of age unless the parents see something of concern or the child is complaining of a dental related issue.
Is My Child at Risk for Dental Problems?
Certain foods and beverages are high in sugar and acid, which can lead to bacteria growth that can destroy the enamel of the teeth. Milk and baby formula can be high in sugar, while fruit juices have high levels of acidity and sugar. Both can contribute to tooth decay. Though brushing twice daily at home eliminates a great deal of the bacteria and plaque buildup resulting from the natural digestive process, professional cleanings and checkups are necessary to begin good habits of great oral health for a lifetime.
When Should I Expect to See My Baby’s Teeth Come in?
At birth, babies typically have 20 primary teeth already formed inside their gums. An infant’s first two front bottom teeth usually appear when they’re around six to eight months old. The front upper teeth will follow shortly after that by the age of 10 months. By the period of 18 months, most of your child’s baby teeth should be visible. These teeth tend to show up in pairs, and, as soon as they begin to erupt through the gums, they’re susceptible to tooth decay.
Is There Anything I Can Do at Home to Help Prevent Tooth Decay?
Brushing your child’s teeth at least twice daily, in the morning and before bedtime, is the simplest and most effective step you can take to help keep bacteria at bay. Sugary snacks should be kept to a minimum, and don’t allow your child to fall asleep in bed with a bottle or sippy cup. Occasional treats are fun and completely acceptable, but be sure to help your child develop healthy eating habits.
When Should My Child First Visit the Dentist?
Your child’s first visit to the dentist should take place between the time the first tooth makes its appearance, and his or her first birthday. Scheduling dental appointments early on is beneficial for a couple of primary reasons. Your child’s dentist can check for early signs of tooth decay as well as ensure no bite or jaw alignment issues are present. Early visits also help to get your child accustomed to regular dental visits.
What Happens During the First Visit?
During the appointment, if your child seems nervous or afraid, you may sit in the exam chair and hold him or her on your lap. Otherwise, we may ask you to wait in the reception area so our dentist can spend one-on-one time with your child.
The dentist will:
- Carefully check the teeth and gums looking for signs of decay or bite problems
- Discuss any findings with you or the guardian present
- Ensure your child is receiving adequate amounts of fluoride at home through public water systems, bottled water with added fluoride and toothpaste
- Teach you and your child about positive at-home oral hygiene practices
In most cases, visiting our office once every six months is recommended, but if there are any problems in need of attention, we may suggest more frequent care.
What Should I do Before the First Visit?
Preparation is an essential step in easing your child’s mind before his first trip to the dentist. Explain where you will be going beforehand and talk about how the dentist will check your child’s teeth and “take pictures” of the inside of his or her mouth. You may want to read books together about children’s first dental visits and talk about the experience with excitement and enthusiasm. We welcome you to bring your child to our office a few days before the appointment, so he or she can look around and become acquainted with the environment ahead of time.
Here are some “First Visit” tips:
- Take your child for a “preview” of the office.
- Read books with them about going to the dentist.
- Review with them what the dentist will be doing at the time of the first visit.
- Speak positively about your own dental experiences.
Pave the way for a lifetime of good oral hygiene and health by starting your child’s dental visits early. Please contact the Washington Center for Cosmetic & Family Dentistry at 202-363-2500 with any questions or concerns, our team is happy to help.