The day when you see that first tiny tooth poking through your baby’s gums is pretty exciting! Not only are you celebrating the fact that you have something to show for the sleepless nights, non-stop drool, and general crankiness that have recently plagued you and your teething tot, you are also celebrating a huge milestone! Your baby’s adorable smile looks different now. Your little cutie is growing up! When you are done snapping pics of your baby’s new look, posting them to Facebook and emailing them to grandma and grandpa, it’s time to start taking care of that new little treasure! I know, it sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Don’t sweat it. With a little practice, and the help of your pals at SFD, your kiddo’s smile will just get cuter and cuter!
Up until now, you should have been cleaning your baby’s gums with a clean, damp cloth each night. Since we have added an actual tooth to the equation, it’s time for a toothbrush. Using a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste, brush your baby’s teeth each night. As your child gets a little older they will probably want to brush by themselves, but you really do need to give them a hand. Most children can’t effectively brush their own teeth until about age 5. The best way to avoid a tantrum is for mom or dad to get the real brushing done first, then let Mr. (or Miss) Independent finish on their own. Remember, children learn best by example, so have your little ones watch while you brush your teeth and practice your own oral hygiene routine.
Six months after you spot that first pearly-white is the best time to get your kiddo scheduled for their first appointment with Dr. Bell or Dr. Franklin. Understandably, the thought of taking your toddler to the dentist can cause anxiety for even the most seasoned parent. You can picture the teeth marks on your dentist’s fingers and the looks on the faces of other patients as they witness the horrors of a full-on toddler meltdown. Take a deep breath. We are here to make your child feel comfortable and have a positive first trip to the dentist!
To make things easier on you and your tot, talk to us about exactly what procedures will be performed at the appointment, then chat with your child about the dentist several times before the visit. Tell them what will happen, and get them excited about this new adventure! The first appointment is a great time for your dentist to examine how the mouth is developing and identify trouble spots. We can also help you deal with and prevent problems like teething irritation, baby bottle tooth decay, and thumb-sucking. As general dentists, we have a relationship with your whole family and know your family history, which can be very helpful in developing a plan that is right for you and your child.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, so let’s just clear it up right now; YES, baby teeth are important! These little gems are holding the spot in line for their future replacements, the permanent teeth. If one baby tooth decays or is removed, there won’t be enough room for the adult tooth to take its place. Did someone say orthodontics?? Furthermore, infected baby teeth can cause improper development of permanent teeth, leading to problems down the road. So take care of those tiny teeth!
Speaking of baby teeth, you may be wondering when the tooth fairy will be paying her first visit. You can expect your kiddo to start losing his or her teeth around age 4, and there will be a good 8 or 9 years of adorable, semi-toothless grins to follow! Usually the front teeth are the first to go, and all of the baby teeth probably won’t be gone until age 12 or 13.
Getting your child used to brushing and visiting the dentist at an early age can really pay off in the long run. With a little knowledge, and a lot of help from our friendly staff, your little one will be on the road to a lifetime of beautiful, healthy, happy smiles!
The Academy of General Dentistry offers some great resources for parents. Check out their website at http://www.agd.org. You can also give us a call to schedule a consultation (http://www.sfdsmiles.wpengine.com/contact/) to discuss your child’s specific needs.