By Vishant Nath DMD/Roswell Pediatric Dentistry
Pediatric Dentists see patients from infancy thru adolescence. As you can imagine, the type of dental care required can vary depending on the age of your child. In the next several articles, we will discuss how a child’s dental needs change as they grow. This article will address our youngest patients, infants.
A very common question of new parents is “When should my child have his first dental visit?” The first dental visit should occur when your baby’s first tooth begins to erupt, or break through the gums. This most often occurs sometime between six and twelve months of age.
This first visit is important for several reasons. First, it allows for the child to begin establishing a relationship with their dentist and gets them accustomed to having the dentist look in their mouth. It also allows for the establishment of a dental home for the child. In case of a dental emergency, the parent knows who to contact and the dentist is familiar with the patient as well. Finally, it allows for the dentist to instruct the parents on how to best care for their child’s teeth.
Why is it so important to protect teeth that the child will lose eventually? The primary teeth, or baby teeth, are essential elements of your child’s health. They serve two very important purposes: chewing and appearance. Keeping your child’s primary teeth healthy allows for your child to obtain proper nutrition and keeps them free of pain and infection. It’s important to keep primary teeth in place until the permanent teeth are ready to erupt. If primary teeth are lost prematurely (due to trauma or decay), they may leave gaps before the permanent teeth are ready to come in. The remaining primary teeth may then crowd together to attempt to fill in the gaps, which may cause the permanent teeth to come in crooked and out of place. Proper care of primary teeth can prevent this from occurring.
Milk is your baby’s most important food, but when they go to sleep while nursing or bottle-feeding, the milk collects and stays on the upper front teeth. The natural sugar in breast and cow’s milk can contribute by enhancing dental caries, which can destroy the teeth. This type of decay occurs only on the backs of the front teeth and is therefore very difficult to detect. To help prevent this type of decay, gently wipe your baby’s teeth with a wet cloth before putting them to sleep.