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Teaching children about the importance of preventive dentistry can help them maintain a healthy smile for life. Children should have their first dental visit by the time they get their first tooth or reach their first birthday, then every six months thereafter. Dental checkups are also a good time for parents to "check in" -- a family dentist can review your children's brushing habits and offer oral health care tips to help prevent childhood dental diseases, such as baby bottle tooth decay.
When new teeth arrive
Your child’s primary teeth, also known as “baby” teeth, will begin to erupt between the ages of six to 12 months and continue to appear until about age three. 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 teething ring. When your child has finished teething, you can expect a total of 20 primary teeth!
Your child’s primary teeth are shed at various times throughout childhood. The permanent teeth begin erupting at age six and continue until age 21. Adults have 28 permanent teeth — 32, including 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, and your child should brush 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. Green or another healthcare professional. We suggest reviewing proper tooth brushing procedures with your child.
Flossing is also a part of good oral hygiene habits, and Dr. Green will discuss with you the right time to start flossing. If you notice signs of decay, contact us 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.
Your child should visit the dentist 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. Tooth sealants are also 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.