We welcome patients of ALL ages. A child’s first visit to the dentist should be enjoyable. Children are not born with a natural fear of the dentist, but they can fear something new. Many times, children develop a fear of the dentist due to input from family, friends and other children at school. Our office makes a special effort to use pleasant and simple words to describe each treatment. We want you and your child to feel at ease from the moment your family arrives at our office. The more you and your child know about the first visit, the better you will feel.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Recommendations
Children should try to visit the dentist by their first birthday. While they are usually too little to have a cleaning or x-rays, it is important that your child’s newly-erupted teeth (which emerge at 6 to 12 months of age) receive proper dental care and benefit from proper oral hygiene habits as soon as possible. Our staff will help educate you and your child on proper hygiene techniques so that their future dental visits can be fun and easy. Once evaluated, we may recommend that your child revisit our office in 6 months to a year for their first cleaning.
When New Teeth Arrive
You can expect the primary or “baby” teeth to erupt between the ages of 6 to 12 months and continue to appear until about age 3. During this time, your child’s gums may feel tender and sore. To help alleviate this discomfort, we recommend you soothe the gums by rubbing a clean finger or a cool, wet cloth across them. You may also choose to make use of a iced teething ring. When your child has finished teething, you can expect a total of 20 primary teeth.
Your child’s primary teeth are lost at various times throughout childhood. The permanent teeth begin erupting at age 6 and continue until age 21. Adults have 32 permanent teeth which included the 4 wisdom teeth.
Adopting Healthy Oral Hygiene Habits
As your child’s teeth erupt, be sure to examine them every two weeks, checking for lines and discoloration that may be caused by decay. Remember, sugary foods and liquids can attack a new tooth, so take care that your child brushes his or her teeth after feeding or eating. We recommend brushing twice a day for optimal oral hygiene: after breakfast and at bedtime.
Brushing can be fun! You and your child should start good brushing habits as soon as the first tooth arrives. When a baby’s tooth erupts, parents should brush it with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. For children younger than two, do not use fluoride toothpaste unless advised to do so by Dr. Bankhead or another healthcare professional. We suggest reviewing proper tooth brushing procedures with your child many times before allowing them to brush on their own.
Flossing is also a part of good oral hygiene habits, and Dr. Bankhead will discuss with you the right time to start flossing. If you notice signs of decay or discoloration, contact our office immediately.
Preventing Tooth Decay With Regular Checkups
Tooth decay is caused by sugars that are left in your mouth. They turn into an acid that can break down your teeth. Children are at high risk for tooth decay for a simple reason: many children and adolescents do not practice regular, good oral hygiene habits. Proper brushing and flossing routines combined with regular dental visits help keep tooth decay away. It is also important that children not be sent to bed with a bottle of any type as it can promote decay regardless of what it contains.
Your child should visit our office every six months for regular dental cleanings and checkups. Along with regular cleanings, we recommend fluoride treatments twice a year to keep teeth their strongest. You can also supplement our in office treatments with an over the counter fluoride treatment.
Sealants are recommended because they “seal” the deep grooves in your child’s teeth, preventing decay from forming in these hard-to-reach areas. Sealants last for several years, but they will be monitored at your regular checkups.