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Parents of newborn babies have several vital areas to consider early in their child’s life, and one such area is their dental health. Dental care for babies begins within their first year of life, a vital time for establishing their oral health and setting the proper foundation for a lifetime of a healthy mouth.

At Salt Lake Pediatric Dentistry, we’re proud to offer numerous child dental services for even the youngest children, from their first dental visit onward. For parents who have never been through this process before, here’s a general timeline on when some of the important dental events take place for your child and what you need to be ready for.

First Dental Visit

The first question many parents have is how soon they should bring their baby in for their first dental visit. Generally speaking, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children see a pediatric dentist when their first tooth comes in, which is usually around their first birthday.

If this has not happened by the time your child is a full year old, it’s generally wise to schedule an appointment regardless. This first appointment is vital for establishing a prevention program against certain dental risks, from tooth decay protection to building a healthy smile and many other areas.

Cleaning Teeth

Another common question is when parents should begin cleaning their baby’s teeth. The answer: As soon as possible. In fact, even before your baby grows their first tooth, you should clean their gums virtually from birth with a soft toothbrush or a cloth and water.

Once their teeth begin to show up, begin brushing daily using fluoridated toothpaste. An amount of toothpaste equal to the size of a grain of rice is a safe dose, even if ingested. You may increase to a pea size amount once they start spitting out the toothpaste instead of swallowing. You will likely have to brush for them for several years until they develop the dexterity to brush by themselves.

Nursing and Bottle Decay Prevention

Some general tips on how to prevent tooth decay and other risks associated with nursing or baby bottles:

  • At-will bottle or breast-feeding should be stopped after the first baby tooth has grown in and other forms of nutrition are present.
  • Babies still using bottles should not be allowed to fall asleep with a bottle containing anything other than water.
  • Do not allow your baby to drink juice from a bottle throughout the day – only via a cup along with a meal.

Thumb or Finger Sucking and Teething

For infants, thumb sucking is entirely normal. If it does not stop by age two or three, however, you should bring your child to our offices for an evaluation from a pediatric dentist, who can suggest ways to curb the behavior before it leads to bite issues or shifting the teeth from their natural position.

In addition, some children have tender gums when their teeth begin to erupt between six and 12 months. For these children, a teething ring, cool spoon or wet washcloth often helps.

For more on the timelines involved in baby dental care, or to learn about any of our pediatric dental services, speak to the staff at Salt Lake Pediatric Dentistry today.