Infant Care

Did you know the majority of American children have their first cavity by the time they reach kindergarten? That’s why the American Dental Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry all recommend scheduling your baby’s first dental checkup at around 6 months old–normally the time of their first tooth. This newer, more medically based model is focused on prevention, and is similar to a well-baby check-up at the pediatrician’s office.

Our own recommendation is to schedule your child’s first dental appointment no later than his or her first birthday. During this visit, one of our doctors will examine the child’s mouth and discuss a program of preventive home care that includes brushing, flossing, diet control, and the importance of fluoride.

We will also discuss how to prevent tooth decay and, if necessary, the best ways to treat it. Among the key ingredients in maintaining healthy teeth are:

  • Brushing twice daily with toothpaste. (Fluoridated toothpaste is recommended for children age 2 or older. )
  • Cleaning between the teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaners, once the teeth have made contact with each other.
  • Eating a balanced diet and limiting the number of snacks.
  • Making regular visits to the dentist, ideally every six months[?].
  • When shopping for toothbrushes, toothpaste, and other oral care products, look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance–an important indication of a dental product’s safety and effectiveness.

One major cause of infant tooth decay can occur when a bottle filled with formula, milk, or juice (or a pacifier dipped in sugar or syrup) maintains constant contact with the child’s teeth. This risk increases at nap time or at night, when the child falls asleep and saliva production ceases–leaving any liquid in the mouth to gather near the teeth and start dissolving the enamel. In order to prevent such dental caries, the AAPD recommends not putting infants to sleep with a bottle, avoiding sugary liquids, and fully weaning them by approximately 12-14 months of age.