By Andrea Avery
Congratulations! After 9 long months, you finally have a new bundle of joy to cuddle and bounce on your knee! Everyone tells you this time in your life will go by quickly and before you know it, that bouncing baby will be a toddler or even starting kindergarten. A few short months from now, he or she will already be sprouting teeth and ready to test those chompers on new textures and tastes. While you expand your baby’s diet, you are going to want to keep in mind the care of his or her new teeth. How do you know when your baby needs to visit an oral health care practitioner? And how do you prepare your little one for a lifetime of good oral health habits?
Many people don’t realize that our teeth actually start forming before birth, while we are still in the womb. Some babies are even born with teeth! These primary teeth are the first set to sprout and the set we all remember losing one at a time while waiting impatiently for the Tooth Fairy to reward our valiant efforts at growing up. If your baby wasn’t born with teeth, you may see the first one sprout as early as four months of age. If you are wondering when the best time to get dentists involved in your child’s healthcare, then this is it! As soon as you see that first tooth poke through those gums, you will want to begin using a baby toothbrush and toothpaste and schedule his or her first dental appointment.
While it may seem young and awfully early to schedule your child’s first appointment with the dreaded dentists before their first birthday, it is the best way to help lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy teeth and good oral habits. Children that get used to visiting dentists when they are very young are less likely to be afraid of taking care of their teeth when they are older. And when you are less afraid, you are less likely to skip appointments or look for excuses to cancel and reschedule. Adults that frequently miss their routine cleaning and check-ups end up with longer dental visits in the end because their teeth have more problems.
When considering dentists for your child’s first visit, it is important to choose wisely. This initial encounter can shape a lifetime of oral health and hygiene habits. And just as it can help allay any fears and promote a positive relationship, it can also backfire. You will want to look for a dentist that has extensive experience with children and perhaps even solely treats children in their practice. Dentists that regularly deal with kids have a different chairside manner that helps kids feel at ease and encourage their success in taking care of their own oral health.
All of these things can add up to a healthy start when it comes to considering your new baby’s new dental needs.