When Should Your Child See a Dentist?
Having a dentist regularly check your child's teeth encourages good dental habits and can prevent more costly and painful problems later. Your dentist can help teach you and your child good food choices and proper brushing. It is important for your child to see the dentist while he/she still has baby teeth (primary teeth).
Even though your child will lose these teeth, it is important to develop the habits that will protect the permanent teeth before the baby teeth are lost. Ask your dentist if your child may benefit from sealants or fluoride treatments.
Your child should start to see a dentist as soon as the first tooth appears, and no later than their first birthday. Thereafter, a dental appointment is generally recommended every three to six months.
Your child should also go to the dentist:
- As soon as you or your child notice a dental problem
- Before he/she starts playing contact sports
- If there are dark spots in the pits or fissures of the teeth
- If the upper and lower teeth do not come together correctly (Malocclusion)
Advanced decay is the major cause of tooth loss in children. Parents need to teach, watch, and assist children with tooth brushing to help prevent tooth decay. Making regular visits to the dentist and avoiding sugary foods can also greatly reduce the chance of getting cavities. Taking care of your child's teeth is not difficult, but it takes both parent and child to make it happen.
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How to Help Your Child
Preventing Tooth Decay
Babies can get tooth decay from having sugars from milk or juice sit in their mouths for long periods of time. Never let your child walk around with a bottle all day or lie down with a bottle to go to sleep because it can cause damage to the teeth.
You can also help your child by following these tips:
- Wipe your baby's gums with a damp washcloth. Once the baby teeth appear, brush gently with a toothbrush and water.
- Use a child-sized toothbrush with soft bristles. Replace the toothbrush every three months.
- Use fluoride toothpaste regularly. Children under two years should get a "smear" of toothpaste. Children over two years should get a "pea-sized" drop of toothpaste twice a day. If your child swallows the toothpaste, this small amount should not hurt him/her.
- Once all the baby teeth are in, begin flossing for the child. Introduce flossing gradually.
Most importantly, make sure that it is fun for your child.
By age eight, your child should be able to brush their teeth alone. By age 12, children should be able to floss their teeth alone.