A baby’s first tooth is an important milestone in their life. Most babies will grow their first tooth between 6-12 months of age. As such, it is recommended that the first visit to the dentist should be when the first tooth appears or before the baby’s first birthday. During the first visit the pediatric dentist will make sure all teeth are developing normally, check for any dental problems and give you tips on hygiene practices as well as answer any questions you may have.
Many parents may be concerned about whether fluoride toothpaste is safe for babies, but it is actually recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics to brush your child’s first teeth twice a day with a small smear of fluoride toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice). This is important because tooth decay can occur if any food or drink isn’t washed away before bed.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Dental Association, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that once a child is about 3 years old a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste be used when brushing, keeping in mind that your child should be able to spit out excess toothpaste. Parents and caregivers should watch over their children while they brush their teeth till about 8 years of age.
You may be wondering if baby teeth fall out why is it important to take such good care of them? Baby teeth set the scene for adult teeth, if baby teeth are lost too early (often due to tooth decay) the baby teeth that are left can shift and leave little room for adult teeth to come in.
To prevent tooth decay in babies, follow some of these tips:
- Avoid sharing saliva with your baby – this happens by sharing spoons, cups, cleaning pacifiers with your mouth, and testing foods before feeding them to babies
- Avoid exposure to liquids or foods other than water for long periods of time or frequently, when this happens the natural/added sugars are turned into acid by the bacteria in the mouth – acid then causes parts of the tooth to decay
- Do not let children have formula, milk, juice, soda or any sugar drinks before bed without taking the time to brush their teeth
If you start to notice white spots at the gum line on the upper front teeth make an appointment to visit the dentist, this is a sign of possible tooth decay. These spots are sometimes hard to see so always make sure you are keeping up with your dental visits.
First 5 San Diego Oral Health Initiative includes these services:
- Dental screenings, exams and treatment for children ages 0 through 5
- Care coordination for high-risk patients
- Oral Health education for pregnant women, parents/caregivers, childcare providers, community-based organizations, and dental/medical providers
For more information or to get connected to dental services supported by First 5 San Diego call 1-888-5 FIRST 5 (1-888-534-7785).
Healthy Children by the American Academy of Pediatrics