Caring for your child’s teeth

When Should My Baby Visit the Dentist?

The American Dental Association, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, recommend that babies have a dental home by their first birthday, or as early as the eruption of the first baby tooth. In an effort to assist parents in the goal of ensuring dental health and preventing tooth decay, Dr. Shannon has included baby oral exams as part of caring for your family at Leahy Family Dentistry. She will examine your baby’s mouth to identify any existing problems or concerns, demonstrate proper infant mouth care and hygiene techniques, and provide guidance and suggestions to ensure your little one remains cavity-free. A fluoride varnish may be applied to your baby’s teeth before you depart.

Why are Baby Teeth Important?

Primary teeth have the same function as permanent teeth, including usefulness for chewing, speaking, and social (smiling); they also act as space savers for the permanent teeth when they erupt. Primary teeth have large pulps, where the nerves are, and a smaller layer of enamel when compared to permanent teeth. This is important to know, because cavities of baby teeth don’t have to grow too large to cause pain and infection when the bacteria from the cavity invades the pulp space. Pain and infection can have a significant negative impact on a child, resulting in inability to chew well and poor sleep due to pain. When the tooth abscesses (visible sign of infection at the gums), there is great concerns that the infection may spread. Similarly, cavities on baby teeth, which are caused by bacteria, can spread to cavities on the permanent teeth if untreated. It is important to treat cavities on primary teeth, as if a baby tooth is lost due to decay the space for the permanent tooth to erupt into may be invaded by another tooth, so the permanent tooth may not erupt properly.