Your child’s first visit
It is recommended that your child visits the dentist for the first time at around age of 1 year old. During this first visit, the dentist and the dental hygienist will make sure to establish a link of trust with the baby, will take care to examine his teeth and will give you all the advice related to the brushing of the teeth and the food.
It is estimated that 50% of the general public is afraid of dentists. It is important for parents not to transmit this fear to their children. Information and a positive attitude will reassure your children and determine their attitude in the future. Your collaboration is important before, during and after the visit.
What to do ?
- Read your child one of the many books featuring a character who visits the dentist for the first time.
- Explain what the dentist will do.
- Go over the steps of the visit the day before the appointment.
- Never tell a child that going to the dentist will never hurt.
- You may be asked to sit in the dentist’s chair and hold your child during the examination.
- If your child is older, you may be asked to return to the waiting room once the initial contact is made.
- Listen to the instructions and suggestions you are given on how to care for your child’s teeth.
- Keep a positive attitude about the appointment at all times.
- Ask for another appointment in six months.
- Make sure that your child brushes her teeth at least twice a day or after every meal.
- Floss her teeth once a day.
- Monitor what your child eats and offer foods that have a low sugar content.
If your child’s baby teeth are starting to erupt and seem to be bothering her, you can
- Rub her gums with your finger
- Rub her gums with the back of a small chilled spoon
If the pain persists, your dentist, pharmacist or doctor may recommend an over-the-counter medicine to ease the pain.
What you SHOULD NOT DO
- DO NOT use pain medication that you rub on your child’s gums; she could swallow it.
- DO NOT give her teething cookies. They may contain added or hidden sugar.
- DO NOT underestimate a fever. The eruption of new teeth DOES NOT make babies ill or give them a fever. If your child’s body temperature is going up and down, consult your doctor.
All 20 baby teeth will appear by the time your child is two or three years old.
Oral health for children
It is normal for babies to suck. That is how they relax and eat. By the time a child is two or three, he has less need to suck. If your child still likes to do so, it is better to give him a pacifier (soother) rather than let him suck his thumb.
Why? Because YOU can control when and how your child uses a pacifier, but not his thumb. Never put sugar, honey or corn syrup on a pacifier because they can cause cavities. It is best to get your child to stop sucking the pacifier BEFORE the age of three. Letting your child continue to suck his thumb or a pacifier AFTER his permanent teeth have come in could affect how his jaw grows and the position of his teeth.
Other important informations
For your child's oral health
Breast milk, baby formula, cow’s milk and fruit juice ALL contain sugar.
Babies MAY develop cavities if they:
- Fall asleep while drinking a bottle of milk, formula or juice;
- Fall asleep at their mother’s breast with milk still in their mouths.
This type of cavity can occur up to the age of four. Once your child has teeth, check them every month. Look out for stains or dull white lines on the teeth along the gums. Also watch for discoloured (dark) teeth. If you see any of these signs, make an appointment with your dentist right away. Cavities in young children must be treated quickly, otherwise they could experience pain and develop an infection. If you give your child a bottle of milk, formula or juice at bedtime, stopping all at once WON’T be easy.
Here’s what to do:
- Put plain water in the bottle only.
- If your child refuses it, give her a clean soother, stuffed toy or blanket.
- If she cries, don’t give up.
- Comfort her and try again.
If this doesn’t work, try watering down your child’s bottle over a week or two until there is ONLY water left. If your child falls asleep while nursing, try to take her off the breast while she is still awake.
Why fill a baby tooth that is going to fall out?
Some baby teeth don’t fall out until your child is 12 years old. A tooth that needs to be filled could be one of those. Broken and infected teeth can affect your child’s health and self-confidence. To fill the tooth, the dentist will remove the cavity and ‘fill’ the tooth with metal, plastic or another material. A filling may be an easy and inexpensive way to alleviate a problem that, if left untreated, could cause pain and require costly treatment. It can prevent the cavity from affecting the tooth any further.
If the tooth is not filled and the cavity grows, the tooth might have to be pulled. If that is the case, your child might need to wear a spacer to leave room for the permanent tooth to come in. When a baby tooth is missing, the teeth around it could move into the space and prevent the permanent tooth from growing. To keep the space open, your dentist may fit a plastic or metal spacer on the adjacent teeth.