A common question that new parents have is when should I start taking my child to the dentist? Let’s take a look at dentistry for infants and see what the experts have to say about the first dental visit and at-home preventative care.
What Age Should a Child Go To the Dentist for the First Time?
Your baby’s oral health should not be overlooked, so when it comes to scheduling their first dental appointment, it’s better to go too early than too late. In fact, oral health provides a window to overall health, as bad oral health can lead to diseases in adults. To set them up for a bright future, it’s important that dentistry gets prioritized early on for your child.
So when should you make an appointment for your baby’s first dental appointment? According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, it should be within their first year of life. Ideally, it should be within six months of your baby getting their first tooth.
While it may seem premature to book an appointment when your baby only has one tooth, starting early sets your child on a preventative path that will guard them against cavities and tooth decay.
How to Have a Successful First Appointment
Going to the dentist will be a new and overwhelming experience for your infant, so make them feel more comfortable with these tips.
First, make sure that you find a pediatric dentist that you can trust and will provide a calm environment for your baby. Ask your friends who have kids a little bit older than yours for a recommendation. You want to make sure that whoever you go with is gentle enough and makes your child feel at ease from the beginning.
Next, try to make your appointment in the morning when your baby is well-rested and in a good mood. It may be an exhausting outing, so letting them take an afternoon nap after the appointment will be helpful too.
Bring their favorite toy with you to the appointment so they have something comforting and familiar to hold onto in a new environment.
Finally, come prepared with any questions you may have about your child’s oral health so you can use the appointment time to go over anything you’re unsure about. Your dentist will be able to give you great tips on how to take care of your baby’s oral health at home, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Infant Dental Care at Home
Good health starts in the home. While it’s vital that you book a dentist appointment for your child before year one is over, it’s also crucial that you take an active approach to their dental care daily at home.
Establishing healthy dental habits early will help set them up for good oral hygiene as they get older and take charge of their health.
Here are a few ways you can safeguard your baby’s oral health:
From birth until age two, clean your baby’s gums and mouth with a soft brush or cloth and plain water twice a day. This will wipe away any harmful bacteria. If their water doesn’t contain enough fluoride, you can also start giving them fluoride supplements to prevent tooth decay starting at six months.
Inspect your child’s gums regularly, and make a dentist appointment if you see anything unusual. Lip their lips and look for any tiny brown or white spots that may indicate tooth decay.
Don’t let your baby walk around with their bottle or continue sucking on it while they sleep. Take the bottle away as soon as they’re done using it to prevent tooth rot.
When your baby starts eating solid foods, stick to healthy foods that promote oral health, and stay away from sugary foods like candy and fruit juices.
Now that they’re eating, begin the transition from using a bottle to a sippy cup. Most kids can drink from a cup on their own by 12 to 14 months.
Beginning at age two, you can now use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush. This is also the age when you should start teaching them to brush their teeth on their own every morning and night. Locking in this habit in the toddler stage will help set them up for a lifetime of good oral hygiene.
If your toddler is still using a pacifier, you should wean them from it around this age as well to prevent any oral health problems.
The biggest thing you’ll deal with when it comes to your baby’s dental care in their first year of life is teething. Growing new teeth is painful for their gentle gums and can leave them feeling cranky and exhausted.
Try a few of these solutions to help them with their sore gums:
- A chilled teething ring to suck on
- A cold washcloth to bite down on
- An over-the-counter children’s medicine
Be prepared to give your baby lots of comfort during this time. You can expect to see lots of drooling and some tears. They may also try to chew on everything in sight, so make sure you have enough teething rings around to give them instead.
Dentistry for Infants in Dallas, Texas
At Children’s Dental and Orthodontics, protecting your child’s oral health is our passion. Our skilled team is trained to provide your little one with the best care, and we prioritize making them feel safe so that it’s a positive experience for everyone.
When it comes to dentistry for infants, it’s always best to be proactive. Contact us today to make an appointment for your baby and get them started on the right path towards a lifetime of great oral health.