When Should The First Visit Occur
Oral Healthcare for Newborns
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Association of Pediatrics currently recommends that children receive their first dental evaluation within the first year of life. In general, there is an increasing trend toward providing dental care to children.
From 0 to 6 months of age, before the baby’s first teeth erupt, it is essential for the mother to maintain her oral health. New mothers who have unfilled cavities should see a dentist immediately in order to have them filled and prevent transmission of germs to the baby. The baby’s gums should be cleaned daily with a clean, damp washcloth or piece of gauze starting within the first few days of life. Gently wiping the gums and tongue after feedings keeps the baby’s mouth clean. The importance of putting the baby to bed without a bottle should also be stressed in this early phase of life to prevent the habit from forming. Babies can develop early childhood caries by sucking on the bottle during the night thus allowing the sugars to cling to the teeth and initiate the decay process, unless the content of the bottle is water.
First Dental Visit
As your child’s first tooth erupts, consult with a pediatric dentist regarding scheduling a first dental visit. It is advantageous for the first dental visit to occur within six months after the first tooth erupts, but no later than the first birthday. Treat the first dental visit as you would a well baby check-up with the child’s pediatrician.
During the first visit, the pediatric dentist will:
- Review the medical and dental histories
- Complete a thorough oral exam to assess growth and development, oral hygiene, injuries, cavities and/or other possible problems
- Clean the teeth as indicated and provide suggestions on daily homecare
- Evaluate and optimize your child’s fluoride exposure
- Review feeding practices and provide dietary counseling
- Assess your child’s risk of developing tooth decay
- Provide information regarding oral development, teething, pacifier and/or finger/thumb sucking habits and injury prevention
- Plan for any needed treatment or the next check-up. The pediatric dentist will also answer any specific questions you may have.