The First Visit
The Canadian Dental Association recommends that you bring your child to the dentist within six months of the appearance of the first tooth or at the age of one year if no teeth have appeared.
It is important to create a pleasant experience so that your child feels comfortable when visiting the dentist. The first visit allows you to learn proper hygiene techniques and proper eating habits, and gives you a chance to ask any questions you may have concerning your child’s dental health. We will also assess your child’s cardiogenic risk as slight, medium or high. This will allow us to implement the best prevention program for your child.
Proper preparation is the key to a successful first visit. There are many books for children that describe the first visit to the dentist. You can also explain the process of the visit to your child. We usually start with an examination to detect any signs of tooth decay. We usually use a small mirror, a probe and a bit of air. We also take small X-rays or photographs if necessary.
It is important to remember that fear of the dentist is passed on to children from their parents. Be careful to never tell your child that “it won’t hurt at all” or “it won’t sting”. A positive and calm attitude will make all the difference!
During the visit, we may ask for your assistance, depending on the age of your child.
The health of your child’s primary teeth (milk teeth) is very important. Some teeth will remain in your child’s mouth up to the age of twelve years. They will affect the health of your child’s permanent teeth (adult teeth), facilitate the growth of the jawbone, maintain the proper spacing for the permanent teeth and allow them to be properly positioned. That is why it is important to keep child’s primary teeth healthy, and repair them if necessary.
Tooth Decay in Early Childhood
From the time when the teeth first appear, your child is susceptible to tooth decay! At the beginning, clean your newborn’s gums with a damp facecloth after every meal. Later, brush your child’s teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a bit of water.
Breast milk, formula and cow’s milk contain sugars, and therefore, tooth decay can appear at a young age. Look out for dull white chalky lines along the gums, especially on the front teeth, and brownish or dark discolourations on the teeth. If you notice any of these signs, consult a dentist as soon as possible.
Never give your child a bottle of milk before bed. A bottle of water is recommended instead. If your child does not want to take water, gradually dilute the milk with water for one or two weeks, and stay strong.
It is also important to make the transition from breastfeeding and bottle feeding to a sippy cup around the age of one year in order to avoid tooth decay and improperly positioned teeth.
Fluoride is a mineral that is found in the earth, in water (fresh water and salt water) and in a variety of foods. It strengthens the tooth enamel and makes it more resistant to tooth decay. It can also help to prevent or even correct small occurrences of tooth decay.
Fluoride is found in many places, including toothpastes, mouthwashes, public drinking water (unfortunately, there is no more fluoridation of the water in the Moncton/Shediac region) or at the dentist in fluoridated products like foams, gels and varnishes.
For young children (up to 3 years old) toothpaste with fluoride can be used with parental supervision. Do not use more than the size of a grain of rice. Between the ages of three and six years, use only the amount of the size of a small green pea. Parents should always supervise and help their children to brush their teeth in order to ensure that the entire tooth is properly cleaned.
Dental sealants are an excellent option for preventing tooth decay, cavities and cracking in adult teeth. Sealants are applied as soon as the teeth appear in the mouth, and act as a barrier between food and bacteria and the tooth. The sealant is easier to clean, because food does not get caught in areas that are usually difficult to clean.
Sealants are among the best methods for preventing tooth decay, especially when combined with fluoride treatment and proper dental hygiene at home.