When should I take my child for the first visit to the dentist?
We recommend bringing your child in for his or her first visit six months after the first tooth comes in or by the first birthday. This helps the child to become familiar with the dental office and gives us the opportunity to answer any questions about your child’s dental health at an early age. We then recommend regular visits every six months so we can continue building a good relationship with your child and also diagnose any problems with the child’s primary teeth in a timely manner. It is important to keep the primary teeth, or “baby teeth”, healthy to aid in speech and chewing, and to hold space for the permanent teeth to come in properly.
What are sealants and why are they recommended?
A sealant is a dental treatment in which a plastic material is placed on the chewing surface of a tooth to fill up the pits and grooves of the tooth. This helps to prevent cavities by blocking out food particles and bacteria from getting in those crevasses. Sealants are usually recommended on the back permanent molars; however, they can be placed on any tooth with deep grooves or pits. Sealants are a quick and inexpensive procedure that can protect the teeth for many years.
What type of toothpaste should my child use?
The American Dental Association (ADA) now recommends fluoridated toothpaste for children of all ages. Any toothpaste with the ADA seal of approval is a great choice; brand and flavor are matters of personal preference. The amount of toothpaste you should use for your child varies based on the age of the child. Children up to age 3 can use only a very small smear of fluoridated toothpaste about the equivalent of a grain of rice, while children ages 3-6 years can use a pea-sized dollop. Any more than the recommended amount of toothpaste increases the risk of developing fluorosis, a condition which can discolor the teeth. Children should spit out extra toothpaste as much as they are able, and there are also “training” toothpastes available without fluoride that children can use more of. Overall, no matter the type of toothpaste used, it is important to aid your children in brushing their teeth as soon as the first tooth comes in until they can brush well on their own.