Young Children and the Dentist

Congratulations! Your child's teeth begin developing about 7 weeks after conception. Now is a really good time for Mom to have excellent oral hygiene, daily flossing and twice a day brushing. Gum diease in pregnant women has been linked to low birthweight babies. Also, the bugs in Mom's mouth are transmitted to the child. Women with healthy gums and no active cavities have children with healthy gums and no cavities. Dad's hygiene does not seem to influence the situation. Remind us when you are in for your dental appointment, and we'll give you the info on what you can be doing for your child for their specific developmental age.
Begin cleaning the teeth at bathtime. You can use a washcloth, a toothbrush, a rubber-over-the-finger-baby-toothbrush, whatever tool feels comfortable. Use no toothpaste on the brush at this time. The most important cavity prevention step is not allowing your child to fall asleep with milk on his teeth. When your child falls asleep nursing, rouse them enough to swallow a few times to prevent the milk from pooling on the teeth. Nursing at will during the night while co-sleeping and bottles at bedtime are both prime causes of early childhood tooth decay.
We like to see children for their first dental visit at age 2. We are happy to see them sooner if you are concerned about something in particular or need help getting your child's teeth brushed. Be sure to schedule a time when you and your child are rested and fed.
Tell your child, "Dr. Amy will look at your teeth, and see how many you have!" If you explain in more detail, you may use different words than we do and add more confusion than clarification. Feel free to call or email us any specific questions your child and you have before your appointment. Avoid phrases like "you'll be OK, it won't hurt" these phrases are negative and give the child something to worry about!
Please come into the exam room with your child. We want to be able to tell you and show you what is happening with your child's oral health. Please let the care provider be in charge of the visit and ask your child to sit still, or open wide or whatever we need when we need it. We will let you know when we need your assistance with getting your child to cooperate.
We think tooth brushing is a non-negotiable item, like riding in a car seat and not running into the street. The child doesn't understand the long-term downside to not brushing, so it's the parent's job to make sure it happens. Here are some ways to help encourage good brushing:

Copy cat: Kids love to do what the grownups are doing. Brush your teeth at the same time, and make it a game getting all the spots in the back! Modelling: Let your child brush your teeth, then you brush his. Rewards: Offer bonuses like stickers on a calendar, extra bedtime story, or whatever "carrot" works for your child.

Regardless of the method, make the brushing part of a daily routine. It's important to realize that more than a daily chore to get through this is an opportunity to share and have fun with your child. If you view it that way, so will he. If these tactics do not help, please schedule with Dr. Amy and she can teach you winning wrestling moves to accomplish brushing!
Thumbsucking and pacifier use have been linked to ear infections and can cause the jaws to grow in directions that may require teeth straightening (orthodontics) and speech therapy later. We recommend that your child stop the habit before age 2, definitely before the permanent teeth come in. We have lots of good ideas how to break this habit that we will share with you when you come in for a dental visit. David Decides About Thumbsucking, by Susan Heitler, PhD has many good suggestions. A thumb guard will make the sucking behavior unsatisfying, check out the ThumbGuard.
The Tooth Fairy will begin coming to your home when your child is between 4 1/2 and 8. She may or may not come in the Autumn. We have special tooth boxes in bright colors so your child won't lose the tooth and the fairy will not lose any coins. She also has been known to leave MatchBox cars and geodes. She brings 2 golden dollar coins to my home, and they rattle in the tooth keeper; very exciting!
I have several ideas, what do you think? We'd love for you to draw us a picture :-) You can also ask questions by filling out the form below.