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.
Your child’s first visit
The first dental visit should be just after your child’s first birthday. The first few dental visits are usually short and involve very little treatment – as the focus is on ensuring that their teeth are healthy and helping get the child familiar and comfortable with dental visits. 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 teeth and gums at their appointments up to age 3. At age 3, x-rays may be taken (to reveal decay and check on the progress of your child’s permanent teeth under the gums), and we will 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.
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. Your child’s reaction to his first visit to the dentist may surprise you.
Here are some “First Visit” tips:
- Take your child for a “preview” of the office and to meet Dr. Luke.
- Read books with them about going to the dentist. You are welcome to borrow a book from the office.
- Review with them what Dr. Luke will be doing at the time of the first visit. (And after the visit, your child will get a fun tee shirt, get a picture taken to keep on the wall at the office, and get a free kids cup at Libby’s gourmet ice cream)
- Speak positively about your own dental experiences with Drs. Keusch or Berger.
During the first visit, Dr. Luke will:
- Examine the mouth, teeth and gums.
- Evaluate adverse habits like thumb sucking.
- Check to see if fluoride is needed.
- Teach about cleaning teeth and gums.
- Suggest a schedule for regular dental visits.
- Give you a tee shirt and take a picture of you after your visit to post on the wall of children’s photos.
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. We use the latest in dental sealant technology to protect your child’s teeth. Dental sealants are space-age plastics that are bonded to the chewing surfaces of decay-prone back teeth. This is just one of the ways that we can 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 brushing. Limiting sugar intake and brushing regularly, of course, can help. 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 lasts approximately 20 minutes. During this time the acid environment can destroy the tooth structure, eventually leading to cavities.
Consistency of a person’s saliva also makes a difference; thinner saliva breaks up and washes away food more quickly. When a person eats diets high in carbohydrates and sugars they tend to have thicker saliva, which in turn allows more of the acid-producing bacteria that can cause cavities.
Tips for cavity prevention
- Encourage brushing, flossing and rinsing.
- Watch what your child drinks. (No milk in the bottle or sippy cup at bedtime.)
- Avoid giving your child sticky foods.
- Make treats part of meals.
- Choose nutritious snacks.