Mommy's Time Out Magazine October Issue - Page 18

Baby Teeth 411

- Dr. Maribel Santos-Cordero

Board Certified Dentist

Dentistry for Children and adolescents

At what age should my child see the dentist for the first time? Ten years ago, the average age for a child to begin dental visits was around three years old. Through a deeper study and understanding of pediatric health issues, we now know that dental health is fundamental to the overall health and development of a child. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends scheduling your child’s first visit by the first birthday.

Cavities can occur as soon as teeth appear in the mouth. One of the risk factors for early childhood cavities is frequent and prolonged exposure of a baby’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar like: milk, breastmilk, formula and fruit juice. Cavities can occur early when parents or caregivers put a baby to bed with any beverage other than water or when a toddler is allowed to carry a sippy cup throughout the day.

An early visit to the dentist helps provide routine dental care so that problems can be detected, treated early or even avoided completely. It also helps to establish a positive relationship between your child and the dentist. Pediatric dentists have been specially trained to help young children feel good about seeing the dentist and taking good care of their teeth. They are also trained to evaluate and treat problems associated with oral growth and development.

What will happen during this first visit? The first visit is like a “well baby check-up” for the teeth. During the first visit your baby will be curious about his surroundings. At our office, we use the lap-to-lap examination technique to evaluate all babies and some toddlers. Your child will be able to see your face at all times which allows you to reassure him that everything will be ok. After performing an overall oral health assessment, we review feeding patterns, habits, brushing techniques and diet in an effort to build a lifetime of good dental habits. The oral examination includes: teeth, gums, tongue, cheeks, lips, bite and roof of the mouth. A professional dental cleaning & fluoride treatment is done in addition to checking for cavities.

I am afraid that my child will be traumatized by this experience. What should I do?

As parents we are often concerned about how our child will react to dental treatment. The truth is that no one knows how your child will react until we try it for the first time. His initial reaction will most likely reflect your level of anxiety towards the visit. When parents are relaxed about the visit the child has the opportunity to experience it as something necessary and not a stressful event. Some babies cry during the first visit due to unfamiliar surroundings but it has been our experience that most patients get used to routine care fairly quickly. The majority of our patients march confidently into the treatment room by age three.