Dental Care for Children

When is the best age for a child to see a dentist for the first time?

It is important for parents to brush baby teeth as soon as they begin erupting into the mouth.  It is recommended by the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry that children are seen by a general or pediatric dentist six months after the first tooth erupts into the mouth, but no later than the child’s first birthday.  We find that children are most comfortable and cooperative for routine checkups and cleanings starting around 3 years old, but early checkups are important while there are still no problems.  It is better to have a nice comfortable first visit for a child rather than the child’s first dental visit be the result of an emergency due to a problem or pain.

Preventing Cavities

Cavities are caused by repeated acid attacks on teeth.  Bacteria in the mouth converts sugar found in food and drinks into acid.  This acid can attack teeth for more than 20 minutes after eating or drinking.  It can eventually cause tooth decay and cavities.  Sugar and acids can be found in food as well as common beverages such as fruit juice, sports drinks and soda.  The longer it is allowed to remain on the teeth, the higher the risk of tooth decay.

Thorough brushing with a soft bristled tooth brush for 2 minutes 2 times per day is essential to help prevent decay and help keep gum tissue healthy.  Routine visits to the dentist can also help prevent dental problems from arising and help identify and treat issues while still in initial phases.  Early dental problems can progress into much larger concerns if left untreated, leading to possible pain, swelling and even tooth loss.

Proper nutrition and minimizing sugar and acidic foods and drinks are also important.  Baby bottles should be limited to waking hours and never contain anything other than water during sleeping hours.  Milk in bottles while sleeping can cause destruction of teeth throughout the child’s mouth due to Baby Bottle Caries or Decay.

Is there a way to help make a child more comfortable during dental procedures?

Children may become nervous before and during a dental procedure due to the unknown or maybe because they heard scary stories from friends or siblings.  There are many techniques we use to help make a child comfortable.  One way is just getting to know your child and talking to them about fun things they are interested in doing.  We also involve them in the process to let them know how we are helping them.  Finally, some of our young patients benefit from Laughing Gas (or nitrous oxide).  This is a gas that is safely used to make the child feel relaxed yet still allowing them to remain awake and engaged in conversation.

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All Rights Reserved Jeff Castel, DDS