A Parent’s Guide to Infant and Toddler Dental Care

A lifetime of positive oral health habits begins very early in a child’s life and is heavily influenced by the actions of a conscientious parent. There are important benchmarks in dental development in infants and toddlers, and a pediatric dentist will have the expertise needed to monitor your child’s healthy development or identify any potential issues that may arise.

Your child should see a children’s dentist for an initial assessment no later than the first birthday. Although the primary teeth will be lost eventually, they can still develop decay just like permanent teeth can. Furthermore, when primary teeth are lost prematurely, it can create problems for the eruption of the permanent teeth, and this may lead to the need for more extensive (and expensive) interventions at some point.

Additionally, when a dentist sees a child at such a young age, it provides a baseline against which future changes can be measured for signs of concern. Having your child visit the dentist this early and continuing regular appointments also reinforces the message that dental care is a normal part of staying healthy and can reduce any anxiety that may otherwise emerge about these appointments.

Parents may also have questions about appropriate home oral hygiene care for their children at different ages. A children’s dentist can also provide guidance on these matters, as well. For example, it is recommended that parents clean a baby’s gums daily with a clean, damp washcloth to minimize bacteria. As soon as the first tooth erupts, the parent should begin brushing that tooth, using a tiny amount of toothpaste. As the child gets older and develops the hand-eye coordination needed to brush and floss effectively, the child can then take over those duties.  

To establish a foundation for a healthy smile in childhood and beyond, consider building a relationship between your child and a dentist who specializes in care for pediatric patients. Call our office to schedule an initial introductory appointment and obtain baseline measures for your child’s oral health.

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