Your Childs Initial Screening Visit
Baby teeth, also known as primary teeth, are just as important as permanent teeth. Strong, healthy primary teeth can help your child chew and speak. They also hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums.
When babies are born, they usually have 20 primary teeth that have partly formed under the gums. The front upper and lower two usually come in first, when the child is between about 6-12 months old. Most children have their full set of 20 primary teeth at age 3.
Tooth decay can occur as soon as your child’s first tooth comes in. Parents may wonder why they should worry about decay in primary teeth, since they will be replaced by permanent teeth. The problem is that decay in primary teeth could mean a higher risk of decay in the permanent teeth, and if decay is severe, it can harm the child’s overall health.
Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in the mouth that change the sugars in foods and drinks into acid. Each time your child eats or drinks, this acid can attach the teeth for 20 minutes or longer. After this process happens over and over, tooth decay can develop and lead to cavities.
When is it time to see Dr. West?
Starting dental checkups early will protect your child’s teeth. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that the first dental visit should occur within 6 months after the first baby tooth comes in, but no later than the child’s first birthday.
Why Schedule so early?
A dentist can show you how to properly clean your child’s teeth, discuss diet, check for decay, examine fluoride needs, and recommend oral care products. Dr. West can also answer any questions or concerns you have about your child’s oral care needs. Familiarity with the dentist at a young age is crucial to building a long lasting positive relationship and preventing fear of the dentist when the child is older.
Tips for a positive dental visit
- Schedule the initial visit between 6 and 12 months of age.
- Try to schedule when your child is well rested and most cooperative.
- Do not use the Dental Office as a form of punishment, but as a fun field trip.
- Stay positive yourself! Children are strongly affected by their parent’s attitudes toward the dentist.
- Dr. West is here to help, and make sure your child has a healthy smile.