Baby’s first trip to the dentist should be when their first tooth sprouts, or when they turn one—whichever comes first, says the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association.
I myself had tons of dental work as a kid, so I’m armed and ready with a bunch of questions to ask the pediatric dentist; which I have shared below. Experts have chimed in, and now my daughter and I are ready for her first oral check-up!
Why should my baby have a pediatric dentistry experience?
“As pediatric specialists, we want to educate parents and caregivers on how to start good oral hygiene, what to do in the event of an emergency, and what kind of diet is good for baby,” says Dr. Grace Yum, a Chicago-based pediatric dentist. “We want to create a dental home and start at a young age so that babies get used to the dental setting and not be afraid of going to the dentist. I advise my patients to read their children’s books or watch videos about going to the dentist. Or even bring them in sooner than 6 months so they get used to the dental environment.”
My toddler grinds her tiny teeth. Should I be concerned?
Most toddlers grind their teeth and usually outgrow it as they get older between ages 9 to twelve. “Some like the feeling of grinding especially when they are teething,” explains Dr. Yum. “I usually tell my patients not to worry until they are teenagers and grind on their adult teeth.”
My child is a thumb sucker. Is this bad for her jawline?
Dr. Jill Lasky, a pediatric dentist in Los Angeles, says don’t panic if your kid is a thumb or binkie sucker. “Sucking can affect the shape of the jaw, but orthodontics can help correct most changes created by digit sucking habits,” she says. “Most kids stop sucking on their own by age eight. It’s ideal to have the child stop sucking before their adult front upper teeth grow in. If a child wants to stop but can’t, a pediatric dentist can make an appliance to help the child stop.”
What’s the first thing to do if my toddler knocks out a tooth?
Accidents happen! Dr. Yum says it can take up to 30 minutes to stop bleeding. “If you cannot control the blood, or there is extensive injury other than the tooth falling out go to the emergency room. If you can control bleeding, call your dentist and have your child examined as soon as possible.”
How do I keep baby’s teeth clean before and after their first trip to the dentist?
Millie Echevarria-Thaw, RDH, a New York-based dental hygienist, says never put baby to bed with a milk or juice bottle/sippy cup, which can create early cavities if they fall asleep with the nipple in their mouth. Brush baby’s teeth twice a day, with a soft toothbrush, spin brush, or a product like this. Dr. Yum demonstrates how to brush baby teeth in this helpful video for parents.