Being proactive about your child’s oral hygiene from a young age is vital for their dental health throughout their lifetime. Dental care is a fact of life for all children, but parents may not be sure how to handle their child’s oral hygiene after that first baby tooth comes in. We’ve covered everything you need to know about toddler dental care in this quick guide.
What age should your child have their first dental appointment?
Experts recommend that children begin visiting the dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings around the age of 12 months. The first visit should be scheduled shortly after the first tooth appears but before the 1st birthday. Most babies begin teething around the age of 6 months, and your toddler will continue to develop new teeth until around the age of 3 years old.
The dentist will examine your toddler’s oral development — including the teeth and jaw —and check for cavities, sores, and any other issues. Your child should also undergo their very first cleaning by a dental professional, who will also take the time to answer any questions you may have.
How to prevent cavities in toddlers?
Your child’s baby teeth are susceptible to cavities from the moment they first erupt. It is important to take care of your child’s new teeth with the same level of care you would give to your own.
Without the proper attention to oral hygiene, infants and toddlers can experience tooth decay so severe that they may need to undergo extractions. This tooth decay is sometimes known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay since it is often caused by prolonged exposure to drinks that contain sugar, such as formula or juice. Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is most common in the top four front teeth, but other teeth can also be affected.
You should assist your child in brushing their teeth for at least 2 minutes at least 2x a day until you are confident they can brush themselves. Some children may be able to begin brushing their own teeth with supervision around the age of 3 years old. The proper amount of toothpaste for your toddler should be the size of a grain of rice.
Excessive thumb sucking or pacifier use can make the development of cavities more likely, as can falling asleep with a bottle or sippy cup. Be sure to always brush your child’s teeth after their last liquid intake before bed and not allow any drinks other than water at bedtime. Likewise, do not share utensils and drinking cups with your child, as you can transfer your cavity-causing oral bacteria to them.
Some research shows that the use of fluoride in toddlers can help prevent tooth decay. Be sure to discuss your child’s fluoride needs with their dentist or pediatrician.
If you have questions or concerns about your toddler’s dental or oral care, give us a call today to schedule an appointment with one of our friendly board-certified pediatricians in Arvada.