As a parent of a toddler myself, I know that a lot of the information about kids’ health that circulates on the internet can often be overwhelming, confusing, and contradictory. I always try to reassure the parents of my patients and help them make well-informed decisions regarding the oral health care of their children. I will try to address a few of the more common questions and concerns I hear below.
The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children be seen by a dentist after their first tooth comes in, but no later than 12 months of age. Seeing children at this age allows the dentist to check on their growth and development. It also allows the parents to be able to discuss proper home care and nutrition with the dentist to help prevent cavities and other problems from developing. Furthermore, this visit helps get the child used to being in a dental setting.
Parents of infants should use a soft, wet cloth to clean their infant’s mouths after feeding. Once the first tooth comes in, parents should begin using a soft toothbrush. Toothpaste is not necessary. In fact, toothpastes containing fluoride should be avoided until a child is able to consistently spit out the paste instead of swallowing it, usually after 3 years of age.
If cavities do develop, it is important to treat them, even on baby teeth. Tooth decay on baby teeth often progresses rapidly, and can lead to pain and infection.