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Your baby’s early years are full of firsts, but one important milestone that often gets overlooked is early dental appointments. We get it; part of this has to do with just how busy you get taking care of a new baby. Plus, do you really need to take them to the dentist if their teeth are brand new or not even coming in yet?
Early Dental Care is Important
Getting comfortable at the dentist can set your child up for healthy teeth and gums for years to come. The sooner you start, the easier it will be for your child and his or her dentist to build trust.
In addition, you might be surprised to learn that tooth decay can happen even in brand-new baby teeth. In fact, 1 in 5 children under the age of 5 has tooth decay. Lastly, early dental care reassures you that your child’s tooth development is on track.
When to Schedule Your Child’s First Dentist Visit
The right time for a child’s first dental visit may vary depending on your child. Like all medicine, dental care is not always one-size-fits-all. Talk to your dentist about when to bring your child for the first visit and how often to schedule regular check-ups after that.
The First Tooth
The ADA recommends seeing a dentist as soon as your child’s first tooth erupts. Of course, this can be different for every child. The majority of babies see their first tooth appear between 6 and 12 months of age. However, many babies get teeth as early as 3 months, and some babies are even born with teeth. Conversely, it is not entirely abnormal for a baby to not get their first tooth until they are older than one year.
Babies tend to chew on their hands and drool quite a bit, and while these behaviors can indicate teething, they do not mean you need to rush to the dentist. In most cases, it is okay to wait until you see that little baby tooth clearly to make that first appointment. ‘
The First Year
If your little one has reached his or her first birthday and still does not have any teeth poking through, you should make a dental appointment. By age one, most babies will have at least one tooth, or that first tooth will be very close to erupting. If there is any concern that your child’s teeth are not developing correctly, you should be sure to see your dentist.
While the ADA’s official recommendation is to see a dentist at the earlier of these two events (one year of age or the first tooth), if your child has received a concerning injury or trauma to the mouth or jaw, you should take them to see the dentist. It is important to make sure that any injury that could have affected the teeth is checked out by a professional.
What Happens at Your Baby’s First Dentist Appointment
Dental appointments for very young children, including babies and toddlers, tend to be short and sweet. One of the primary goals is to introduce your child to the dentist’s office and improve their comfort level. The dentist will also want to look at your child’s teeth to ensure they are developing correctly and there are no indications of problems.
Your child’s dentist will look at existing teeth for signs of decay. Even though baby teeth will fall out, cavities should be treated early to prevent pain, infection, and other more serious problems down the line.
Lastly, your child’s dentist will discuss proper oral care and diet. Your child’s dentist wants to help keep you informed about caring for your child’s teeth and helping them learn to do the same.
Set Your Baby Up For Healthy Teeth
If your child is almost one or their first tooth is starting to appear, contact our office to schedule their first dental visit soon!