Usually a child’s first teeth come in when the child is 6 or 7 months old. Usually the lower front teeth are first, soon to be followed by the upper front teeth. By age 3 or 4 most children have a full set of ten baby teeth on top, and ten baby teeth on the bottom.
We recommend that a child be seen for a very simple visual examination at age 1. As the child is usually not able to cooperate we do the best we can to be able to assess the situation visually, and then discuss with parents about how to keep the child in good dental health. We discuss healthy food choices, cleaning the baby’s teeth at home, and proper use of fluoride in preventing decay. It is important that parents are aware that a child should never be allowed to nurse on a bottle at night with anything other than plain water,since nursing bottle decay can cause rapid tooth decay in a manner of months.
At age 2 a similar visual examination should be done to make certain the child is healthy and good dental habits are in place.
At age 3 a child is usually able to cooperate with a simple cleaning of the teeth, polish, and a more thorough dental examination. If there is no sign of tooth decay or other problems we typically will not take x-rays at this appointment. We will take intra-oral photos which we can show to the child and the parents. The whole idea of the 3 year visit is to engage the young child in his own dental care.
Children at age 3 are curious and enthusiastic, and we make sure this exam is fun and exciting. The child will go home with a new toothbrush, some floss, toothpaste, and if they are very cooperative (they all are) they get to visit the treasure chest. A positive early experience in the dental office as a patient paves the way for a lifetime of good experiences and good dental health.