We are thankful to partner with South Mississippi Smiles for this post. We strive to provide information that is helpful for families.
There are so many milestones for children it’s hard to keep up sometimes! Maybe your little babe just cut their first tooth, now what? When should they see a dentist and how often? How do I brush those teeny tiny little teeth?
The first step is to find a dentist for your child—someone and someplace that will make your child feel comfortable and at ease.
Most dental offices for children aim to provide a fun environment with toys, stickers, yummy flavored toothpaste, and a staff that enjoy working with children. When a child is having fun, they gain trust in the dentist and staff, and will (more often than not) enjoy their visits and look forward to their next appointment.
We were recently invited to South Mississippi Smiles and were able to ask Dr. Cameron Larson for some advice.
Here are 5 things your child’s dentist wants you to know:
1. WHEN TO SCHEDULE YOUR CHILD’S FIRST APPOINTMENT
Typically, you should take your child to the dentist somewhere between 6 months and one year or when their teeth begin to erupt, whichever comes first. Every child is unique, some have teeth come in earlier than others and some later. In my family my daughters got their first teeth at about 5 months old, and my son didn’t get his first tooth until 13 months.
If your child is approaching age one and doesn’t have any teeth, we still recommend coming in. Not all parents do this, but it’s good to get them used to the experience of being at the dentist. The first visits are for parental education, ensuring we are doing everything properly at home, and to establish a dental home just in case emergencies arise.
2. BE PREPARED FOR YOUR FIRST VISIT
I’d advise all parents to practice cleaning their child’s mouth often to get them used to it. Early on, this can be as simple as using a wet washcloth on the baby’s gums. There are great finger toothbrushes and infant toothbrushes to use once teeth start coming in. If you start right away, they grow up used to the practice of keeping their mouth clean.
It’s recommended to use a grain of rice sized smear of fluoride toothpaste as soon as the child has teeth. Be sure to keep using this small amount until around age 3 when the child can spit on their own.
3. YOUR CHILD MAY NOT WANT TO GO TO THE DENTIST
I get it! I get it! There are countless children (and adults) that don’t enjoy going to the dentist. Sometimes this can be solved with something as simple as just easing into it. We are happy to let kids come in and meet the team, have a quick visit, and take things one step at a time.
At South Mississippi Smiles, a lot of our staff have children, and it reflects in how we treat our patients and make decisions. Every patient I see, I treat them as if they were my own child, which has helped me to serve them better. A lot of parents ask what I would do if it were my kid and I try to channel that into every appointment.
We strive to make our dental office welcoming for both parents and children. Everywhere the child goes in the office, the parent can go. We feel that puts a lot of parents and children at ease and makes the experience a lot more enjoyable for everyone.
4. WHEN TO SEE THE DENTIST OUTSIDE THE ROUTINE CHECKUP SCHEDULE
if your child experiences any of these, please contact our office:
- Consistent pain in the gums or mouth is a concern
- Any abnormalities like bumps or ulcers
Maintaining a regular checkup schedule can prevent most issues before they develop. But accidents happen, and we want parents to know we’re always a phone call away.
5. DIET IS IMPORTANT
Milk is obviously great for a child’s development. However, we don’t want to let babies sleep with a bottle. If the baby still has a bedtime milk feeding after teeth erupt, be sure to brush before bed. My youngest was a bottle baby. As she got a little older, we switched from milk to water for her bedtime bottle to protect her teeth.
It’s better for our teeth if we have defined snack and mealtimes, less grazing all day. High carb foods, like crackers, will cause cavities just as much sugar will. It’s hard to be the “daddy” dentist and say don’t eat candy, but I just suggest eating it in moderation and cleaning well after. When I eat candy, I just make sure I floss and ensure my teeth are extra clean afterwards.
About Guest Contributor
Dr. Cameron Larson is a dentist at South Mississippi Smiles and a dad of 3. South Mississippi Smiles is proud to have been voted Parents and Kids Magazine 2021 Family Favorites Best Dentist. South Mississippi Smiles serves the entire Gulf Coast with locations in Gulfport and Pascagoula.