During this first year, you can expect your child to teethe and receive their first tooth. However, dental care begins before your child’s first tooth appears. Starting at about 3 months old, you should wipe your baby’s gums clean with a fresh gauze or infant-friendly soft toothbrush to remove bacteria and get them used to the feeling of brushing their teeth.
Most children’s first tooth comes through at about 6 months but this can happen sooner or later. Take your child to the dentist by the time they turn one or as soon as their first tooth erupts. Avoid giving your baby a bottle with any sugary drinks and be careful about swapping saliva with your baby, as this can cause baby bottle tooth decay.
From the time they receive their first tooth, they should return to the dentist every 6 months.
After the one-year mark, your child should have gone to their first dental appointment and you should stop giving them a baby bottle. Continuing to use a baby bottle past this point increases their risk of tooth decay and can affect their mouth development.
Your child should also stop using a pacifier as soon as you can wean them off because prolonged use can cause changes to the roof of the mouth, speech impediments, and bite problems. You need to brush your child’s tooth with fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice until they turn 3 years old.
Once your child turns 3, you can increase the amount of fluoride toothpaste you use to brush their teeth to a pea-sized amount. Since your child should have all of their primary teeth at this point, they will need to floss once a day.
You should be weaning your child off of pacifiers by the age of 3 to prevent long-term oral health and orthodontic problems. Young children need help brushing their teeth because they do not have the proper amount of dexterity until they are about 7 to 9 years old.
However, you should still show them the proper method of brushing and how long they should brush while encouraging them to try to do it themselves, even if they need guidance.
At this age, your child will receive their first permanent molars and we highly recommend that you place dental sealants on them to prevent their risk for cavities. That’s because these teeth contain a significant amount of pits and grooves which can trap food particles and bacteria, leading to tooth decay.
Children are likely to eat a lot of snacks and sweets at this age, so try to limit this as much as you can and make sure they protect their teeth with fluoridated water. If your child is active or plays sports, you should get them a mouthguard to protect their teeth from dental trauma.
Keep an eye on your child’s bite development. If you notice they have crooked teeth or a misaligned bite, the best time to go for an orthodontic screening is 7 years old. This allows us to correct issues with early orthodontic treatment to reduce their need for braces later in life.
If it’s your little one’s first trip to the dentist, we’re honored to be your partner in giving your child the best start to their smile journey. One of the best ways you can prepare your little brusher for their appointment is by making daily dental habits fun! Instill meaningful connections with their oral care by playing their favorite tune while you polish those chompers together. Leading up to their first visit, you can also incorporate kid-friendly books and videos that teach them all about the dentist. By introducing professional smile care as a fun adventure, you can help your little one feel genuinely excited about visiting their new dental buddies!
We specialize in dental care for children between 0 to 18 years old. Once your child turns 18, they will be ready to see a different dentist that practices general or family dentistry for patients of all ages. There, they can help your child manage their oral health and prevent serious problems like tooth decay and gum disease as they progress through the next stage of their life. But until then, we will be there every step of the way!