You’ve suffered through sleepless nights, crying, and a constant stream of drool as those first tiny, white teeth poked through. But now how do you take care of them?
Those precious, little teeth will help pave the way for healthy adult teeth, so it’s important to start caring for them early. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you begin cleaning your baby’s teeth as soon as they emerge, by either wiping them with a wet wash cloth or gently brushing with water and a toothbrush with soft bristles. Between 12 and 24 months, you should begin brushing your child’s teeth after breakfast and at bedtime with water and a soft bristled tooth brush, according to the AAP. You may also want to schedule your child’s first visit to the dentist during this time. The AAP recommends doing so between 12 and 24 months. But talk to your pediatrician, they know your child’s temperament, risk factors for tooth decay, and have examined your child’s mouth and may suggest waiting a little longer. More information on infant dental care is available here and here.
How to Choose a Dentist for your Child:
Once your child is ready for their first dental appointment, it may be intimidating to find a dentist. But remember you are in charge, and you are hiring a dentist just as you have hired a pediatrician and childcare providers. You want your child to have a good experience and not to be afraid of going to the dentist. You want a dentist you trust and feel comfortable with. So do your homework. Here are some tips to help you find the best dentist for your child:
- Ask around. Ask your pediatrician for a recommendation. Ask other parents if they have a dentist they like and what they like about their child’s dentist.
- Consider a pediatric dentist, a dentist who has received 2 to 3 years of training in caring for young children. Or chose a dentist who has a family friendly practice, with toys in the waiting room, and staff trained to help children feel comfortable.
- If you have dental insurance, check out you plan. Will it pay for a pediatric dentist? Must you choose and “in network” dentist?
- Once you’ve got a few names, check them out online. You may find patient reviews or information about criminal or disciplinary actions against the dentist.
- Finally, when you’ve narrowed down the list, call the dentists office and find out more about them. Does the dentist accept your insurance? Does he allow parents to stay with their children in exam room? Is the dentist’s support staff friendly and helpful? How can you reach the dentist if you child has a dental emergency, such tooth that has been knocked out?
- If you try a dentist and find you don’t like the way he or his staff treat you or your child, don’t be afraid to switch to a new dentist. You want to develop a good long-term relationship with a dentist you trust.