Infant and Toddler Oral Health Basics

If you are the parent of a baby or toddler and your family has successfully made it through the dreaded teething stage, you may be wondering what the next step is in terms of your child’s oral hygiene and care. Dental professionals agree that the sooner a child can see a dentist, the better. This is particularly true when it comes to the prevention of disease. Periodontal disease and many other dental problems that commonly affect children are more likely to occur in children who do not receive regular dental care and evaluations.

If you’re thinking it’s not that big of a deal because your child will lose those baby teeth anyway, keep in mind that these issues can lead to a broad range of more significant problems down the line, including nutritional problems from trouble eating and drinking, and problems with speech development and self-esteem.

baby toddler brushing teeth.When to Have Your Child Evaluated

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), your infant or toddler should have an oral evaluation performed within six months of the appearance of his or her first tooth. Because there’s so much variability among children as to when that first tooth pops out, however, AAPD recommends visiting a dentist for an evaluation before the child’s first birthday even if that first tooth has yet to appear.

Additional Important Considerations

While seeing a dentist early on improves your child’s chances of optimal oral health, there are several other things you can do in the comfort of your own home. AAPD recommends that you avoid putting your child to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice, and don’t let them sip on a bottle with those things in it throughout the day either. Both actions enhance your child’s chance of tooth decay. If your child has trouble falling asleep without a bottle, make sure it contains only water, and try and take it away entirely before your child hits the one-year mark.

When it comes to your child’s oral health, prevention is paramount. Taking the aforementioned tips and seeing a dentist early on are the best ways to give your children healthy teeth and gums.