Q&A For New Parents About Pediatric Dental Health

Now that you are a parent, you are probably already concerned about the dental needs of your baby. Even though a baby is usually born without any erupted teeth, the teeth that lie beneath those cute little gums can still be affected by the dental care that your child receives before his or her teeth present. If you are new to parenting, you may have questions about your baby's oral health. Here are a few questions and answers for new parents about pediatric dental health:

Are pediatric dentists the same as family dentists?

A pediatric dentist provides oral care to babies, kids and teens. Pediatric dentists specialize in the care of children's teeth, just as pediatricians specialize in children's healthcare. In order to become a pediatric dentist, a dentist must complete an additional two to three years of specialty training after he or she has completed dental school.

When will my baby's first teeth come in?

If your baby follows the normal pattern of tooth eruptions, his or her front two lower teeth will start to present around the time that he or she is four to seven months old. However, it is not unusual for an early developer to have his or her first tooth appear around three months. Not long after the bottom two teeth are in place, the two front upper teeth should peek through. By the time the child reaches three years old, your little one should have a full set of 20 primary teeth.

When should I start cleaning my baby's teeth?

Even before your baby's teeth erupt, you should be wiping his or her gums with a damp washcloth or other soft, clean material after each meal or at least twice a day to discourage the buildup of plaque. However, once the teeth begin to show, be sure to start cleaning his or her teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush that has a small cleaning head. The teeth should be brushed after breakfast and before bed each day.

It is important to care for your baby's teeth properly. Much of your child's dental care will occur at home. However, as soon as your baby's first teeth erupt, you should schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist in your area. He or she will be able to assess your baby's oral health and provide advice to help your little one avoid dental decay and gum disease.