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When Should Children Have Their First Dental Visit?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) suggests that parents should make an initial “well-baby” appointment with a pediatric dentist approximately six months after the emergence of the first tooth, or no later than the child’s first birthday.

Although this may seem surprisingly early, the incidence of infant and toddler tooth decay has been rising in recent years.  Tooth decay and early cavities can be exceptionally painful if they are not attended to immediately, and can also set the scene for poor oral health in later childhood.

The pediatric dentist is a specialist in child psychology and child behavior, and should be viewed as an important source of information, help, and guidance.  Oftentimes, the pediatric dentist can provide strategies for eliminating unwanted oral habits (for example, pacifier use and thumb sucking) and can also help parents in establishing a sound daily oral routine for the child.

What potential dental problems can babies experience?

A baby is at risk for tooth decay as soon as the first tooth emerges.  During the first visit, the pediatric dentist will help parents implement a preventative strategy to protect the teeth from harm, and also demonstrate how infant teeth should be brushed and flossed.

In particular, infants who drink breast milk, juice, baby formula, soda, or sweetened water from a baby bottle or sippy cup are at high-risk for early childhood caries (cavities).  To counteract this threat, the pediatric dentist discourages parents from filling cups with sugary fluids, dipping pacifiers in honey, and transmitting oral bacteria to the child via shared spoons and/or cleaning pacifiers in their own mouths.

Importantly, the pediatric dentist can also assess and balance the infant’s fluoride intake.  Too much fluoride ingestion between the ages of one and four years old may lead to a condition known as fluorosis in later childhood.  Conversely, too little fluoride may render young tooth enamel susceptible to tooth decay.

What happens during the first visit?

Pediatric dentists have fun-filled, stimulating dental offices.  All dental personnel are fully trained to communicate with infants and young children.

During the initial visit, the pediatric dentist will advise parents to implement a good oral care routine, ask questions about the child’s oral habits, and examine the child’s emerging teeth.  The pediatric dentist and parent sit knee-to-knee for this examination to enable the child to view the parent at all times.  If the infant’s teeth appear stained, the dentist may clean them.  Oftentimes, a topical fluoride treatment will be applied to the teeth after this cleaning.

What questions may the pediatric dentist ask during the first visit?

The pediatric dentist will ask questions about current oral care, diet, the general health of the child, the child’s oral habits, and the child’s current fluoride intake.

Once answers to these questions have been established, the pediatric dentist can advise parents on the following issues:

  • Accident prevention.
  • Adding xylitol and fluoride to the infant’s diet.
  • Choosing an ADA approved, non-fluoridated brand of toothpaste for the infant.
  • Choosing an appropriate toothbrush.
  • Choosing an orthodontically correct pacifier.
  • Correct positioning of the head during tooth brushing.
  • Easing the transition from sippy cup to adult-sized drinking glasses (12-14 months).
  • Eliminating fussing during the oral care routine.
  • Establishing a drink-free bedtime routine.
  • Maintaining good dietary habits.
  • Minimizing the risk of tooth decay.
  • Reducing sugar and carbohydrate intake.
  • Teething and developmental milestones.

If you have further questions or concerns about the timing or nature of your child’s first oral checkup, please ask your pediatric dentist.

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Testimonials

Dr. Salaveria and his staff were friendly, knowledgeable, professional, and they listened to me. I recently moved here from out of state and it looks like I've found my new dentist!

Sheridan S. Concord, CA

NO Pain! I am a HUGE baby when it comes to dental work and I am SO impressed. They made me feel comfortable and I am amazed that after a root canal, I had NO PAIN! Highly recommend their services. Their staff was wonderful from Rose at the front office to Brittany who assisted the procedure. Absolutely recommend!!!

Sue J. Concord, CA

My last experience at the dentist was as an uninsured individual about 6-8 years ago and I went to Western Dental. After almost 2 hours in their chair for 2 fillings and they had only gotten one of them done, I walked out of the office and never looked back. A few years went by and all of a sudden one of my molars caved in and I knew I had to get it taken care of. I now have insurance through my work and found Dr. Salaveria through their list of network providers. I saw all the positive reviews here on Yelp (and no negative ones...) and thought it was too good to be true but figured I would give them a shot. Best decision I ever made!

This is by far the best dentist experience I could have dreamed of. I had about 6 fillings done in less time than it took the Western Dental folks to do one. Not to mention he is very gentle and uses different techniques to make me comfortable since I have severe issues with my TMJ. I can almost fall asleep in his chair. They referred me out for two root canals (which have to be done by a specialist, and who they referred me to was also equally amazing) at this point and I have had one crown put in by them and will be having another crown done shortly. I can honestly say that I look forward to getting the work done with them. ....well... as much as anyone can look forward to dental work that is.

Bottom line: The reviews speak for themselves! Don't doubt it!

Jenna D. Concord, CA

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