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How Old Should  A Child Be For Their First Dental Visit?

What is the recommended age for a child's first visit to see a dentist? I am not sure when to begin to teach my 2 year old to floss.  Is this age too young? Can a regular dentist be able to determine if my child (8 years old) will need braces or do I need to see a specialist?

It's often difficult for parents to understand the amount of dental care needed for their children.  They often don't know if a child has a toothache, or too much plaque build up. Even though your child may be brushing and flossing, this doesn't necessarily mean that they do not have some form of tooth decay.

At what age should regular dental visits begin?

You should be thinking about your child's oral hygiene even before he or she gets their first tooth. Teeth ARE there, but under the surface.  It's important to keep their gums healthy while waiting for the teeth to push through. Most people don't realize that teeth begin to form starting in the fourth month of pregnancy. Believe it or not, your newborn child already have up to 19 or more completely developed teeth!  They are in the jawbone.

You can care for your infant's gums by gently wiping with a clean, damp washcloth on the gums just once a day. There are specially made toothbrushes for babies, and you only need to use water until the child turns 2 years old.  This is so they don't swallow the water with the fluoride toothpaste in it.

You can typically teach a child who is just around two years old to spit out the toothpaste. Still, children under five years old need adult supervision while brushing.

Infants are also exposed to tooth decay depending on their diets. For example, when you put your child to bed at night, the bottle can be harmful, even if it only contains water. Sugar from any kind of juice, or formula, or water sit on the babies teeth all night and can result in what is known as "bottle mouth". You can spot bottle mouth by looking at your child's front teeth.  They will be pitted or have a dark color to them. If left untreated, advanced stages of this condition may require that the baby teeth be removed and then the child will have no front teeth until the permanent ones grow in.

So, it is very important that you regulate the times of day and evening that your child has a bottle.  Too many bottles per day or night could result in this happening to your child.

Consider taking your child to a dentist who specializes in treating kids. Pediatric dentists are trained to handle the wide range of issues associated with kids' dental health. They also know when to refer you to a different type of specialist, such as an orthodontist to correct an overbite or an oral surgeon for jaw realignment.

A pediatric dentist's primary goals are prevention (heading off potential problems before they occur) and maintenance (using routine checkups and proper daily care to keep teeth and gums healthy).