First Visit by First Birthday

Title: First Visit by First Birthday
By: Kristianne Macaraeg, DMD

Before you know it, the sleepy little newborn you brought home from the hospital will be smashing a cake and celebrating his or her first birthday! The saying goes: “The days are long, but the years are short.” Especially if you are a first-time parent, your world is constantly changing and you are adapting and learning something new every day. Oh how I know this all too well with my own 10-month-old daughter!

Between baby-led-weaning and finding the perfect stroller, there is so much information out there and it can be overwhelming at times. When it comes to your little one’s oral health, I am going to make it simple for you. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that your child have their first dental visit by their first birthday.

Why so early? There are many reasons why this first visit is recommended before the age of one year. First and foremost, visiting the dentist twice a year starts to become a routine! Before you know it, your little one will be a pro when it comes to dental visits. Better oral home care and diet routines can be started at an earlier age to help prevent cavities. In fact, it has been proven that the dental cost of children who have their first dental visit before age one is 40% lower in the first five years compared to those who waited. The first dental visit is all about education and prevention.

Here at Surfside Smile Co. Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics in Middletown, NJ, we focus on educating our families about oral health and we do so by understanding your lifestyle and needs and collaborating together to come up with attainable oral health goals to set your child up for dental success!

Let me walk you through what you can expect at your baby’s first visit with us:

Families are first welcomed and greeted with smiling faces. Our friendly front-desk team will check you in and allow you to get settled in our child-friendly waiting room. You and your child will be greeted by one of our dental assistants who will give you an office tour to allow your little one to get acquainted with our office. Once in a treatment room, your child can get comfortable while either playing with toys or watching a movie on our ceiling TVs while you engage with our pediatric dentist. When it is time for the exam and cleaning, we will perform a knee-to-knee exam. This allows you to see what the pediatric dentist sees while also holding your child in a safe and comforting way. At the end of the exam, your child will be rewarded with lots of praise and prizes!

Of course, every child is different in how they respond to a dental exam, just like how each child responds differently to getting their diaper changed. Some will be happy while others may be very upset…and this is completely normal! We are here to support you and your child and we always have your little one’s best interest at heart. Our goal is to make their first visit a wonderful experience and to educate you on how to get a head start on your child’s oral health.

Aside from bringing your baby in for their visit visit by their first birthday, I’ll share with you a few other tips and tricks to keep your baby cavity-free:

  • Start cleaning their mouth before their first tooth erupts. You can use a finger brush or a damp washcloth. Using your finger, wipe the gums gently.

  • Once their first tooth comes in, you can switch to a small soft toothbrush. Brush twice a day.  A toothpaste with fluoride is recommended. For babies and toddlers who have not yet mastered spitting, use a rice-grain smear of fluoride toothpaste.

  • For babies who require a night-time feeding and have teeth already present, it is best to wipe their mouth and teeth with a damp washcloth after the feeding.

  • Make brushing teeth part of your bedtime routine

  • No juice before age one. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that fruit juice should not be introduced before the age of one unless advised by the pediatrician. After your baby’s first birthday, juice can be introduced, but fresh fruit is preferred. Although water is always best to keep teeth cavity-free, the occasional juice intake should be limited to 4-6 oz and only at mealtime.

For more tips and tricks to keep your little one’s smile healthy, schedule your baby’s dental visit with us today!

Dr. Kristianne is a board-certified pediatric dentist practicing in Middletown, New Jersey and serving Monmouth County and beyond.

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