Your Child’s First Visit
The Canadian Dental Association recommends your child’s first dental visit to be “within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth or by one year of age”. The first dental visit is usually short and involves very little treatment. We may ask you to sit in the dental chair and hold your child during the examination. You may also be asked to wait in the reception area during part of the visit so that a relationship can be built between your child and your dentist.
We will gently examine your child’s mouth, teeth and gums. Images may be taken (to reveal decay and check on the progress of your child’s permanent teeth under the gums). We may clean your child’s teeth and apply topical fluoride to help protect the teeth against decay. We will make sure your child is receiving adequate fluoride at home. Most important of all, we will review with you how to clean and care for your child’s teeth at home.
What should I tell my child about the first dental visit?
We are asked this question many times. We suggest you prepare your child the same way you would before their first haircut or trip to the shoe store.
Here are some “First Visit” tips:
- Take your child for a “preview” of the office.
- Read books with them about going to the dentist.
- Review with them what the dentist will be doing at the time of the first visit.
- Speak positively about your own dental experiences.
During your first visit the dentist will:
- Examine your mouth, teeth and gums.
- Evaluate adverse habits like thumb sucking.
- Assess your child’s cavity risk and need for fluoride.
- Teach you about cleaning your teeth and gums.
- Suggest a schedule for regular dental visits.
What about Preventative Care?
Tooth decay and children no longer have to go hand in hand. At our office we are most concerned with all aspects of preventive care. The best way to help prevent tooth decay is education about oral hygiene and diet. Sometimes the dentist may recommend sealants or preventive resin restorations to be placed on teeth as a preventive measure against tooth decay if your child has a high cavity risk. Sealants are a plastic like material bonded to the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Preventive resin restorations are similar to sealants but first require some minimal removal of tooth structure from the grooves of the teeth to ensure that no bacteria is present prior to bonding the plastic like material to the tooth surface. These are just a few ways to set the foundation for your child’s lifetime of good oral health.
Most of the time cavities are due to a diet high in sugary foods and a lack of adequate brushing and flossing. Limiting sugar intake as well as brushing and flossing daily, of course, can help prevent tooth decay. The longer it takes your child to chew their food and the longer the residue stays on their teeth, the greater the chances of getting cavities.
Every time someone eats, an acid reaction occurs inside their mouth as the bacteria digests the sugars. This reaction continues approximately 30 minutes after eating. During this time the acid environment can destroy the tooth structure, eventually leading to cavities. It is recommended to avoid brushing during this 30 minute period to avoid brushing off any weakened tooth structure.
The consistency of a person’s saliva also makes a difference; thinner saliva breaks up and washes away food more quickly. When a person has a diet high in carbohydrates and sugars they tend to have thicker saliva, which iis less effective in the fight against cavity causing bacteria.
Tips for Cavity Prevention
- Limit frequency of meals and snacks.
- Encourage brushing, flossing and rinsing.
- Watch what your child drinks.
- Avoid giving your child sticky foods.
- Make treats part of mealtime.
- Choose nutritious snacks.
The first baby teeth that come into the mouth are the two bottom front teeth. You will notice this when your baby is about 6-8 months old. Next to follow will be the 4 upper front teeth and the remainder of your baby’s teeth will appear periodically. They will usually appear in pairs along the sides of the jaw until the child is about 2 1/2 years old.
At around 2 1/2 years old your child should have all 20 teeth. Between the ages of 5 and 6 the first permanent teeth will begin to erupt. Some of the permanent teeth replace baby teeth and some don’t. Don’t worry if some teeth are a few months early or late as all children are different.
Baby teeth are important as they not only hold space for permanent teeth but they are important to chewing, biting, speech and appearance. For this reason it is important to maintain a healthy diet and daily hygiene.