Many parents may ask why they should think about dentistry for their baby when he or she has no teeth yet. After all, teething does not start until 6 to 12 months of age. But taking good care of your child’s teeth is vital even before the teeth come in. That’s why a visit to the dentist should be planned in your child’s first year.
Make a visit to the dentist before your child’s first birthday. That way, you can start a thorough prevention program and set up a dental home base where you and your child will feel at ease.
Early childhood caries (also known as ECC or baby bottle tooth decay) is very common. It affects the teeth of 40% of kids under the age of 5, according to the CDC. And it can be prevented. Early risk assessment and guidance via adequate infant dental care can go a long way to keep your child’s smile bright and healthy for their entire lives.
To help you get a head start, here are some tips:
- From birth, clean your baby’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or a soft cloth and water
- Once baby teeth emerge, brush her teeth with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes twice a day
- Don’t let your baby sleep with a bottle that has anything but water
- After the age of three, stop thumb sucking, which could cause problems with teeth
You may ask, “Why so much care for baby teeth, when they will just fall out?” Here’s why: baby teeth help your child chew properly, are essential to speech development, and save space in the jaw for permanent teeth.
A healthy smile helps your child develop self-esteem. Caring for that smile right from the start is your best way to see it every day as your child grows up.