Mark R. Maher, DDS
Walnut Creek, CA

When should I bring my child to the dentist for a first visit?

We Follow the AAPD

Dr. Maher follows the guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and recommends that children begin seeing a dentist around the age of six months. At the latest, your child should have visited a dentist by the time he or she turns one year old or as soon as the first tooth comes through.

This first visit not only sets the stage for a lifetime of good health and hygiene habits, it also gives us the opportunity to meet your child and make sure that his or her teeth and face are developing appropriately. We will check for any signs of early tooth decay and discuss with you the best ways to take care of your young child’s teeth and gums.

Studies Show Early Dental Care is a Cost-Saver

Some parents who are looking for ways to save money may choose to delay the first dental visit; however, this could backfire and wind up costing a good deal more in the long run. Studies have shown that children who start seeing a dentist early, as recommended, will incur 40 percent fewer dental costs during the first five years of their lives when compared to children who see a dentist later.

Our office believes deeply in the power of preventive care. Poor early oral health can have effects that will resonate throughout the rest of your child’s life. A study published in Pediatric Dentistry, the journal of the AAPD, demonstrated a link between children with cavities and lower than ideal body weight. As more research is conducted, a connection is emerging between improper early oral healthcare and a lifetime of problems for your child including heart disease and strokes.

Promote Good Oral Health in Your Child

  • Before your child’s first tooth appears, use water and a soft cloth or a specially designed baby toothbrush to clean your child’s gums two times a day.
  • Fluoride is a mineral that helps your child’s teeth grow strong. It is often added to the water supply. We will discuss your child’s fluoride needs with you and make sure that he or she is getting the proper amount of fluoride.
  • Avoid letting your child sleep with a bottle. If you do choose to allow your child to take a bottle to bed, only put water in it. Other drinks, including milk and juice, can cause damage and cavities in your child’s growing teeth.
  • If your child is using a pacifier, never dip it into anything sweet – especially honey, which can be very dangerous for young children.
  • Plan to brush your child’s teeth after breakfast and before bed.
  • Try to keep snacking to a minimum. Snacking can lead to a greater risk of cavities.
  • Studies have shown that the bacteria that cause cavities can actually be transferred from parents to their children. Keeping your own teeth healthy and practicing good brushing and flossing habits will help to protect your child’s teeth – in addition to providing an excellent model for the type of behavior you want to encourage.
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