You should bring your child to their first dentist appointment within 6 months of their first tooth coming in or on their first birthday. Whichever comes first. This can be a complicated time in your life, but it shouldn’t be. The purpose of this first visit is to help your child get comfortable with the dentist and for you to get any questions you have answered.
Before taking your child to the dentist for the first time, you may wish to consider whether you should see a pediatric dentist or a general dentist. Not every parent is aware of the differences between pediatric dentists and general dentists, so it’s important to recognize this distinction before finding someone to take care of your child.
It seems like so many dental tips for children require purchasing some new toothbrush or sticker chart. For those looking to save money, or keep from going out unnecessarily in a pandemic, here are a couple tips you can start using right away.
Teeth should be cleaned from the moment they first appear in a child’s mouth. For teething infants, this job is up to the parents. But when can the parents pass the job onto the child? Let’s look at a quick overview of brushing habits throughout the early years and when children can take on the task themselves.
Everyone has sore gums multiple times in their life, and it all starts at around 6 months old. At this time, children will begin teething which is the eruption, or breaking through, of teeth through the gums. Teething lasts until you’re about 2 years old, and it’s not a comfortable time for anyone.
Teething usually begins when your child reaches 4-8 months. At this time, the front teeth will start to erupt, or push through, the gums. This can be very painful for your child. They’ll want to stick things in their mouth to alleviate their pain, so make sure you watch what your child puts in their mouth. Until they’re about two years old, when the back molars grow in, your child will continue teething, so keep a look out for the symptoms.
Just like your adult dental insurance, your baby needs dental insurance, but why should they? Cavities can cause pain, difficulty eating and speaking, and infections that could damage permanent teeth. If the cavity is severe or left untreated, you may need to take your baby to the hospital, and that has financial and emotional effect on you. Having dental insurance for your baby can lessen that weight and make it more affordable for you.
Even before your child’s teeth come in, you need to be caring for their gums. This paves the road for good oral hygiene when their first tooth comes in. It also gets your baby used to brushing their teeth, when teeth finally grow in. If your baby doesn’t like you cleaning their gums, try singing a song or letting them play with a toy, so they can learn to get comfortable with brushing their gums and teeth.
The first two years of your child’s life is the most crucial, so make sure you go to the doctor when you’re supposed to or when needed.
Right after birth, the nurses and doctors will look for healthiness, normal body function, newborn reflexes, skin tone, alertness, and hip stability. They will take measurements and perform a hearing screening to check your child’s hearing. They will also perform a newborn metabolic/hemoglobin screening and give your child an immunization shot. The first check up you need to make comes three to five days after birth.
The American Academy of Pediatrics defines a dental home as “the ongoing relationship between the dentist and the patient, inclusive of all aspects of oral health care delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated, and family-centered way.” But what does that mean? Well, it means that a dental home is almost the same thing as your average dentist. But there’s a couple more benefits of a dental home:
- It’s patient/family centered which means your child comes first.
- A dental home reflects the AAPD’S clinical guidelines.
- A dental home provides referrals to other dental specialists when your general dentist cannot provide the needed care.
- Children that have a dental home are healthier, have fewer hospitalizations, and have fewer emergency room visits.