Baby Showing Off His New Teeth.

A kids dentist and their staff use special techniques to make even their littlest patients feel comfortable. This is important since the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists now recommends kids visit a dentist for the first time at about 12 months of age or when their first teeth come in. Some people find this recommendation strange since most babies have few, if any, teeth by their first birthday. However, experts say early care ensures your baby’s gums are healthy. A kids dentist is very good at spotting abnormalities of the teeth and gums in children. By the time kids reach kindergarten, about 40% suffer from cavities. Taking your child for regular dental check ups can save nearly 40% on the costs of dental care, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control. Delaying routine dental care can actually cost more than it saves over the long run.

Besides checking your baby’s teeth, dentists also give information on protecting teeth. Many people believe since kids lose their baby teeth, they don’t need to worry about good dental habits so soon. However, baby teeth hold space in the mouth for permanent teeth. Losing a baby tooth can keep permanent teeth from growing in the right way. Cavities in baby teeth also lead to staining, weakness or cavities in permanent teeth. When teeth aren’t brushed, bacteria normally found in the mouth can quickly increase and cause problems. In babies and toddlers, special tooth wipes can be used to remove the bacteria and avoid cavities before they start. Once teeth come in, parents should brush their child’s teeth with a small dab of fluoride free toothpaste.

You have 32 teeth (or you will when you get older).

Caution: New Teeth at Risk

Kids dentists recommend toddlers stop drinking from a bottle by about 12-14 months of age. Don’t put a baby to sleep with a bottle of milk, juice or anything sweet. Offer juice or milk to drink with meals. In between meals, try to serve only plain water in a sippy cup or bottle. Parents often wonder when their children should stop using a pacifier. Experts don’t recommend a specific age to end this habit but advise parents to consider the emotional and developmental needs of their child. Although using a pacifier can cause problems that need orthodontic treatment in the future, it’s more important to make sure your child feels secure, comfortable and happy. Kids usually respond best to a plan that slowly cuts back on using a pacifier at set times during the day and night.

Grazing, where kids eat small amounts of food all day, can cause them to suffer from more cavities. A single sip of a sugary drink or just a bite of food, even if it’s healthy, causes a kid’s mouth to begin producing acid for about 20 minutes. The acid comes from bacteria found naturally in the mouth which mixes with sugar from any source, even fruit sugars. Exposing teeth to this acid over long stretches of time causes the enamel of the teeth to wear down. Sticky foods cause many cavities because bits of food become stuck to the teeth. While dried fruits and other sticky foods make healthy snacks, be sure your child drinks water or brushes after eating these kinds of foods.

Help Toddlers Brush Their Teeth Daily

Teach Good Dental Habits Right from the Start to Save Money

Surprisingly, the biggest increases in cavity rates are being seen in kids between ages 2 and 5. More than half of the kids in this age group suffer from cavities. At the same time, cavities in the 6 to 16 year old age group have actually gone down. Experts believe the increase in cavities in younger kids might be due to the large amounts of fruit juice and snacks they consume during the day. Parents often allow younger kids to brush their own teeth, but little kids don’t have the fine motor skills needed to brush their teeth well and remove plaque. For babies and toddlers, special tooth wipes remove plaque and bacteria and don't tickle like a tooth brush. Helping your kids floss their teeth also stops cavities that can form between teeth.

Early dental care helps your child develop healthy teeth and gums. Let kids know from a very young age that taking care of their teeth is something they have to do.  A fun way to help kids learn about taking care of teeth is by reading books about visiting the dentist and teeth. Learn more about how play can help your child feel more comfortable about visiting their dentist in the article -  Dentist Playsets for Kids: Fewer Fears and Happier Dentist Appointments.  You can also show your kids how to take care of their teeth by letting them watch you brush, floss and visit the dentist. Children usually feel more comfortable visiting a kids dentist because the office and equipment are designed with kids in mind. A kids dentist and their staff have special training to help kids feel better about visiting the dentist and getting dental treatment. Help your child have healthy teeth for life by teaching good dental habits early. Regular brushing and flossing prevent kids from having to get more painful and expensive dental treatments for cavities and other dental problems.

Visiting the dentist can be fun.
Credit: Finizio