Pediatric Care

Early Dental Care

A Child’s First Dental Visit

A child’s first dental examination should take place by his/her first
birthday. At this visit we examine your child’s teeth and soft tissue, teach
you proper oral hygiene methods, perform a decay risk assessment and provide
guidance with regard to diet and dental health. Don’t worry if you don’t think
your child will “sit still” for this visit! This is more like a “well-baby
visit” with your pediatrician and is meant to be more educational for the

Teething and Tooth Eruption

A child’s teeth start forming before birth. Usually, the first tooth erupts between ages 6 to 12 months—the lower central incisors are first, then the upper central incisors. The remainder of the 20 primary teeth typically erupt by age 3, but the place and order vary. Gums may be sore and tender during the teeth process. Rubbing sore gums gently with a clean finger or with a cold, wet cloth helps soothe the gums. Chilled teething rings also work well, but avoid teething biscuits—they contain sugar that is not good for baby teeth.

Permanent teeth begin eruption around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until around age 21. Adults have 28 secondary (permanent) teeth—32, including the third molars (wisdom teeth).

Why Primary Teeth Are Important

Primary teeth are essential for several reasons. Foremost, good teeth allow a
child to eat and maintain proper nutrition. Healthy teeth allow for clear
pronunciation and speech habits. The self-image that healthy teeth give a
child is immeasurable. Primary teeth also guide the eruption of permanent
teeth, and how your child cares for his/her primary teeth plays a critical
role in how he/she treats the permanent teeth. Children and adults are equally
susceptible to plaque and gum problems, hence the need for regular care and
dental checkups. hence, the need for regular care and dental checkups.

Preventing Early Childhood Tooth Decay

Tooth decay in infants can be minimized or prevented by not allowing infants
to breast or bottle-feed while sleeping. A bottle containing anything other
than water, left in an infant’s mouth while sleeping, can cause decay. Sugar
in the liquid mixes with bacteria in dental plaque, forming acids that attack
the tooth enamel. Each time a child drinks liquids containing sugar, acids
attack the teeth for several hours. When awake, saliva carries away the sugar
with the liquid. During sleep, the saliva flow significantly decreases, and
liquids pool around the child’s teeth for long periods, covering the teeth in

Oral home care should begin as soon as the primary teeth erupt. Newly erupted
incisor teeth should be wiped off with a soft cloth at least twice a day. Once
the molars start to erupt, parents and/or caregivers should use a soft toddler
toothbrush to cleanse the teeth twice a day – after breakfast and before
bedtime. For children not in school, adults should assist in brushing their
teeth. These children do not have the manual dexterity to be able to do an
excellent job on their own.

Good Diet and Healthy Teeth

The teeth, bones, and soft tissue of the mouth require a healthy,
well-balanced diet. A variety of foods from the five food groups helps
minimize (and avoid) cavities and other dental problems. The frequency of
carbohydrate exposure can be the determining factor in decay formation. We
recommend that children eat three healthy meals a day and limit their snacking
to nutritious foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses, nuts, and
popcorn. Avoid juices, sports drinks, and sodas that are high in sugar and
acids. Fluoridated water and milk are the best choices of beverage for
children and teens.

Albion Dental Center in Park City, UT Your Best Dentist