National Children’s Dental Health Month, Part 1

February 10, 2014

2977_smiling_superhero_tooth_with_toothbrushWhat do you think of when you hear February?  Blizzards?  Valentine’s Day?  Groundhog day?  Chocolate candy?  It’s also National Children’s Dental Health Month!

 As a pediatrician, we’re often the first one to look in your child’s mouth and take a look at erupting teeth, besides you! 



Here are a few tooth concerns for the younger child; we’ll talk about older children in the next blog! 

 When do teeth appear? 

  • Typically around 6 months, although that’s an average, so there is quite a range for the first one to poke through, usually from 6-10 months of age. 

 When do I need to start brushing?

  • You can start cleaning your baby’s gums when they’re newborns with a clean, damp washcloth or gauze.  Once a tooth is showing, you can start using a child-sized toothbrush and water or fluoride-free toothpaste.

 When can I switch to toothpaste with fluoride?

  • Once your child can spit!  Usually around age 2 years.  Use a pea-sized amount on their toothbrush and make sure to brush twice a day. You can let your child brush their teeth themselves first, but always make sure you finish the job to get into all those nooks and crannies!

 When do I start flossing?

  • When you see two teeth that touch!  Then there’s a pocked between them for food particles and decay to occur. 

 What can I do about teething?

  • During the first few years of your child’s life, they will have teeth erupting; ultimately 20 baby teeth will push through those sensitive gums, usually before the age of 3 years.  It’s normal for your child to be grumpy, sleepless, lose their appetite and be covered in drool!  But it’s not normal to have fever, diarrhea, or runny nose with teething- those are more likely illnesses.   For pain, you can try a frozen washcloth or teething ring or even a frozen bagel for your child to chew on. 

 When do I see the dentist for the first visit?

  • Most family dentists will start seeing children at age 3 years.  Some pediatric dentists will start at age 1 year, or younger if there are concerns.  Your pediatrician is a good resource for keeping an eye on your child’s teeth when they are young and can recommend a good provider for your children’s dental health.

 What happens at the first visit?

  • The dentist will look at your child’s teeth- checking for injuries, decay, and other problems.  Your child’s teeth will be cleaned and counted.  Pacifier use and thumb sucking will be discussed too.

 When do baby teeth start to fall out?

  • Here’s a nice diagram (click on it to enlarge):



 We’ll talk more about dental concerns for your older child- injuries, sealants, wisdom teeth, etc., in the next installment!


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