Did you know that your child can start seeing the dentist as soon as their first tooth appears and should have their first appointment no later than their first birthday?
Dr. Sheehan treats the whole family – from babies to seniors, and everyone between. If you have questions about your child’s dental health, we’re here to help you. Here are a few of the questions that parents are often most curious about.
Even though baby teeth are not permanent, they still need special care. Tooth decay can begin as soon as there is a tooth for bacteria to attack. In fact, tooth decay is one of the top chronic infectious diseases among children in the United States. When children suffer from tooth decay in their baby teeth, they often develop long-term oral health issues. These issues can affect their ability to speak properly and cause immediate long-term food-related and eating issues. Finally, in serious cases, tooth decay that starts in baby teeth can actually destroy adult teeth before they even appear. Decay can cause discoloration and even tooth loss, of both baby and adult teeth.
As soon as that first tooth pops through, you should start brushing it! Not only will this keep that tooth, as well as the ones that follow it, as healthy as possible, but it will also create good dental habits early on for your child.
In fact, you can even clean your baby’s gums before the first tooth appears. Simply use a washcloth or a soft toothbrush specifically designed for infants and water.
The best implement to use to clean your baby’s teeth is a soft toothbrush, specifically designed for your child’s age group. Your baby can use the same fluoride toothpaste that you do. A small smear on your child’s toothbrush will do the trick. And remember – just like you, your baby’s teeth need brushing twice a day!
When babies are put to sleep either with nursing or a bottle, parents can’t brush baby’s teeth between feeding and sleep. Just like with adults, babies’ teeth need to be cleaned after eating or drinking and before going to sleep. Even worse, with a bottle, babies often hold milk in their mouths for extended periods as they fall asleep, causing tender baby teeth to literally soak in a sugary liquid. While juice is the worst case scenario, cow’s milk and breast milk also have natural sugars that have the same affect on baby teeth as processed sugar does.
Thumb-sucking and using pacifiers are completely normal for most children and generally do not cause adult teeth to be out of place. However, if your child reaches age three and is still thumb-sucking or using a pacifier, it could begin to affect the shape of your child’s teeth. If you have concerns about your child’s thumb-sucking or pacifier use, Dr. Sheehan is happy to speak with you about when it is a appropriate time to take action to end these habits.
Dr. Sheehan can help parents determine when is the right time for children to start flossing and can help both parents and children learn how to properly and painlessly floss children’s teeth. In general, once teeth begin to touch, it’s time to begin flossing.
It’s no surprise that the diet doctors recommend for kids is the same diet dentists recommend for kids. A balanced diet with adequate protein and fiber, based on whole (non-processed) food will support not only dental health in growing kids, but also whole-body health. Fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains should make up the bulk of your child’s diet.
Limiting sugar and acid intake is especially important for good dental health in all ages, but especially in kids. Sugary snacks and candy, juice, sports drinks, and carbonated beverages (with or without sugar) can all create oral environments where oral bacteria thrive.
There’s no doubt about it – when kids play, things can get rough and rowdy and unfortunately sometimes their teeth can be damaged in the process. We can’t keep kids from playing – and we certainly don’t want to! Kids need to play and it’s healthy for kids to be involved in sports, whether it’s during playtime, at school, or on local teams. If you have concerns about protecting your child’s teeth during sports, talk to Dr. Sheehan about whether or not a mouth-guard might be appropriate for your child.
Do you have more questions about your child’s dental health? Whether you need to schedule an appointment for your child or just need to talk to Dr. Sheehan and our staff about caring for your child’s health, please feel free to call our offices. We’re here to help.
To prepare for your child’s visit, we have created an activity kit to familiarize your child with their teeth and help them look forward to their dental visit.
» Getting to know your teeth is fun! Get comfortable with your teeth with our
Dynamite Dental Fun Kit.