When to first visit the Dentist

Your child’s first visit to the dentist is an important one; you want to start off on the right foot for a lifetime of oral health.  We feel that about 18 months - 3 years of age is a great time to bring a child in for their first visit.  Although at that age they are not old enough to understand everything that is going on it allows us to guide you through their dental development.  If at all possible it is a good idea to bring your child with you to your appointment shortly before their first appointment.  That gives them an idea of what will happen, it gives them a sense of what the surroundings are like and they will be better prepared.  If at anytime you have any concerns then it is important to bring them in before that.

Baby Bottle Syndrome

This is a serious condition that occurs when teeth are frequently exposed to liquids containing sugar, such as milk, fruit juice, soda, or formula.  The sugary liquid pools around your baby’s teeth giving the bacteria a food source to form acids that cause the decay process.  This can be prevented.  Never give the child a bottle containing the sugary liquids at bedtime, nap time or for extended amounts of time during the day. Only water should be given at these times.  And start a good hygiene routine early!

 Tooth eruption and Loss 

Most infants will have their first tooth erupt between 6 – 10 months of age.  The typical eruption patterns starts with the lower central incisors followed by the upper central incisors.  The next teeth to erupt will usually be the lateral incisors and then the canine teeth, or eye teeth.  At around 1 - 1 1/2  years they will begin to get their first primary molars followed by their second primary molars.  Most toddlers will have their full set of primary teeth by about 2 – 2 1/2 years of age.  A full set of primary teeth consists of 20 teeth.  These of course are averages, some babies can be born with a tooth, and some may not get their tooth till they are 1 year old.  There is no real need to be concerned if your child is on either end of the averages.  The teeth will erupt when they are ready! 

At about 6-7 years of age your child will lose their first baby tooth.  The loss process will usually follow the eruption process, the lower incisors being first.  They will lose their front 8 teeth first and then they will not lose any for a year or two.  Then they will lose 12 more.  Most children will have 28 permanent teeth by about age 13-14.  Again these are averages and every child can vary.

Nighttime Grinding

There is really nothing to do for this. There are kids that will actually grind their teeth way down. Some kids will grind and not make much noise; some make so much noise you can't stand it. If it is during the day and you hear it, you can try to distract them, but at night there just isn't much to do. Most kids will grow out of it at some time. We are lucky that we get two sets of teeth. The grinding will not affect the permanent teeth. In adults you can make a night guard to protect the teeth, but it is something to be worn nightly. In a small child it just isn't practical, their dentition changes so fast it wouldn't fit for long even if we were able to actually take an impression.  It is one of those things you just have to wait out!

Home Care 

This is one of the most important things you can do for your child.  Help them to have a good daily home care routine and start it early.  When your baby’s first tooth erupts you can start by brushing it or using a wash cloth to wipe it off after feedings.  When your child is comfortable with a toothbrush brush their teeth 2-3 times a day with an extra soft toothbrush and less than a pea size amount of toothpaste.  (If your child won’t use toothpaste just get in there and brush, it is the mechanics of the bristles that are actually doing the cleaning!) It is good to let your child begin exploring their own mouth and brushing themselves, but until about the age of 6-7 you should always brush their teeth as well.  As you are brushing it is much easier to stand behind them looking in the mirror to brush.  This mimics the way you brush and it gives your child a chance to watch you.  As your child is learning to brush there are disclosing tablets you can get from your dentist to help them see the plaque and areas they are missing.  These tablets will stain the plaque red and make it much easier to see where they need to do a better job. 

Many cavities will begin in between your child’s teeth and that is why flossing is so important.  You can start flossing once they have teeth next to each other.  This is something that they will not master on their own until they are much older.  When you are flossing their teeth once again come from behind them and floss their teeth once a day. 

Fluoride is a nutrient essential to the protection of your child’s teeth.  Fluoride combines with your tooth enamel to make it stronger and to help resist harmful decay causing acids.  There are two ways to get fluoride.  The first is systemic fluoride, fluoride that is in the drinking water or fluoride supplements.  This aids in teeth that are still forming.  While some fluoride is good, too much systemic fluoride can be bad and cause fluorosis of the teeth. This is why you should always have your well water tested for natural fluoride before prescribing a fluoride supplement.  The second type of fluoride is topical fluoride.  This is the fluoride in your toothpaste or in a fluoride treatment applied at your dental office.  This helps the teeth that have already erupted.  Fluoride has reduced the incidence of tooth decay in children; it can also help to recalcify some damaged tooth structure.


 A sealant is a thin plastic coating that is generally applied to permanent molars.  It fills the pits and grooves of these teeth to “seal” out decay.  Not all children need sealants, some teeth don’t have as many pits and grooves as others.  A sealant is not meant to be a permanent restoration, but to help children till their dexterity is good enough for them to take care of their teeth on their own.


In most cases dental trauma looks worse than it is.  The mouth is so vascular that it bleeds easily and can seem like a lot.  If it is just an abrasion or cut make sure the area is clean and apply pressure.  If a tooth has been knocked out there are general guidelines.  If it is a primary tooth it usually will not be put back in place.  If it is a permanent tooth keep the tooth moist in some water or milk and call your dentist immediately, they will try to put it back in place.  If you are ever in doubt call your dental office right away.