Stellar Infant Dentistry in Westminster, CO
THE AMERICAN ACADEMY of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry both recommend that a child’s first dental visit should come as soon as their first tooth appears (or at least by age one). This is why Young Dentistry for Children offers infant dentistry for our youngest patients in Westminster, Colorado. An early start to professional dental care is an important component of lifelong dental health.
What You’ll Learn at the First Infant Dentistry Visit
When you bring your baby or toddler in for their first appointment, one of our board-certified pediatric dentists and our team will be able to give you great information on several of the common infant and pediatric dental concerns to watch out for. These include:
- Prevention of dental decay
- Baby bottle tooth decay
- Pacifier habits
- Finger-sucking habits
- Proper brushing
We will also give you information about mouth-healthy infant feeding practices, mouth cleaning, and how to take care of your child’s baby teeth.
Preparing for the First Visit
Mom and dad, baby, and the dentist all need to prepare for that first infant dentistry visit. Up to a certain age, there’s not much you can do to explain the dentist to a very young child, but if they are preschool age or older, you can give them an explanation of what to expect from this new experience. Be sure to cover the importance of going to the dentist. Be understanding and try to help them feel excited about this Big Kid milestone.
You can prepare for the first visit as a parent by discussing your questions and concerns with us. Keep in mind that your own history with dental offices is not your child’s. We encourage you to be honest with us about your views on dentists so that we can work together to ensure your child doesn’t inherit any dental anxiety.
We also need to prepare to be your child’s dentist! Make sure to bring their complete health history with you. It also helps in infant dentistry for us to know if your child tends to be stubborn, defiant, anxious, or fearful in a new situation.
The Parent’s Role During an Infant Dentistry Visit
Parents can greatly help their child have a good infant dentistry experience by remaining present and calm in the dental exam room, and you can also watch how they react during their appointment. You know your child best, and what you tell us can be very helpful. Some behaviors are fairly typical for certain age groups:
- Age 10-24 months: some children may become upset when taken from their parents for an infant dentistry exam.
- Age 2-3 years: children this age are better able to cope with brief separations from their parents, though “no” is a common response from a two-year-old.
- Age 3: children at this age may have difficulty being apart from a parent during a procedure like getting a cavity filled because they aren’t socially mature enough yet.
- Age 4: by this age, most children are able to sit in another room from their parents for exams and treatments.
The First Visit
The primary goal of a child’s first visit in infant dentistry is to help them feel comfortable with the dentist. It will typically last between 30 and 45 minutes. Depending on the age of your child, it may include a full oral exam to check growth and development of the teeth, jaws, bite, gums, and oral tissues. Your child may also receive a gentle cleaning, which will include polishing any teeth that have erupted and removing any plaque, tartar, and stains. If a lip or tongue tie is present, we can diagnose and treat it.
The Second Visit
As with adults, beyond the infant dentistry age, children should have regular dental visits — once every 6 months, but we may recommend more frequent visits to help build your child’s comfort and confidence or to keep an eye on a developmental or cavity concern issue.
Home Dental Care for Young Children
Even though baby teeth don’t last forever and will be replaced by permanent teeth, it’s important to keep them healthy. Here are a few things parents can do to take care of their children’s teeth until they’re old enough to brush and floss on their own:
- Clean the gums with a clean, damp cloth before the teeth come in.
- Once teeth start erupting, use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a tiny smear of toothpaste to brush them.
- When your child turns three, upgrade to a pea-sized dab of fluoridated toothpaste when your child, and teach them to spit instead of swallowing. Your dentist will give more specific fluoride toothpaste recommendations at the initial examination appointment.
- Avoid leaving your child with a bottle or sippy cup of milk, juice, or other sugary liquid for long periods of time, including at naptimes and bedtime. Prolonged exposure to sugar greatly increases their risk of developing baby bottle tooth decay. Encourage water between meals and prevent any grazing on sugary drinks.
- Help your child brush their teeth until they’re about 7 or 8. Have them watch you brush as an example and encourage them to take the full two minutes. Many families find it useful to use phone apps for proper brushing lengths.
- Limit the number of sugary treats they eat and drink. Fruits are better than juice for their teeth, because the fiber in the fruit traps the sugar and helps scrub the teeth.