Excitement ensues as Baby shows off his first pearly white tooth. Before you know it, he's got another one. Then another one. Some babies may have a mouth full of teeth before their first birthday even!
First Tooth = First Dentist Visit
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry states baby should have his first dental appointment made after the first tooth appears (or by the first birthday). David Snodgrass, D.D.S., of Snodgrass-King Dental Associates agrees. He says it's important to start early because he says parents need to be shown how to take care of those new baby teeth. You need to know what kind of brush to use, what kind of toothpaste to use and so on. "The parents should be told and know the consequences of poor oral hygiene," he adds. Another good reason to get your baby to the dentist early when teeth appear is if other things are happening to them ... like teeth grinding.
When Baby grinds his teeth it's called bruxing says Snodgrass. "Many children grind their teeth for a multitude of reasons," adds Snodgrass. "Some of the reasons include normal eruption, a poor bite, ENT problems, etc. In most situations, if there is no visible damage to the permanent teeth, it's contraindicated to place a night guard on a child because it can interfere with normal growth and development."
He continues to say that bruxism is one of the most common complaints. But, not to worry, kids typically outgrow it. However, if it persists, consult your pediatric dentist. Excessive grinding on those new baby teeth may sound horrible to the ear, but it is even more damaging to the teeth.
"The enamel on baby teeth is different from the enamel on permanent teeth," says Snodgrass. "It's usually much thinner and weaker anatomically. Therefore, it's more susceptible to the effects of grinding and to the effects of sugar metabolism. Grinding thins the enamel and wears it away. Once enamel is gone, it does not return," he adds.
You Can Help!
As long as you seek a pediatric dentist once the first tooth erupts and continue to see one every six months, those pearly whites will be taken care of. However, your help at home is needed, too. Don't unknowingly create a fear of the dentist for your child.
"Between the ages of birth to age 4, most children are fearful of doing anything that's associated with the mouth," says Snodgrass. "They not only don't like to brush, they don't like to lay down or have any strange object near their mouth." He says kids inherit these fears at home. Help a dentist out. Start early with a good home dental routine. Even find a place at home to lay your child down while you clean his teeth. Make it fun.