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Many parents remember their first visit to the dentist as a scary time when they had a problem! According to Arlington TX dentist Chip Mercer “it is important that children receive early preventive dental care to ensure good oral health and a healthy dental attitude”.

Parents need to be aware of the basics of a child’s varying dental needs at different points while growing up.

Teething: Teething begins by the ages of 6 months to a year, with the lower front teeth coming in first. The gums around an emerging tooth are often sore, red and irritable. Cleaning the gum pads and emerging teeth with a clean cloth and fingers is often sufficient. A clean teething ring relieves the baby’s urge to chew. It is important to guard against decay at this stage by avoiding sweet snacks and giving water sips after sweetened baby food to prevent baby bottle decay. A child should be brought in for a first dental visit about the age of one year. The dentist will examine the child while she is seated in the parents lap, screen the teeth for any decay and assess the development.

Primary Teeth: The primary teeth will come in by the age of two years. It is important to clean the child’s teeth as they emerge and promote healthy oral hygiene. Dental visits at this age can be instrumental in shaping the child’s oral care behaviour. A warm friendly atmosphere at the dentist office and positive role models often motivates the child to begin caring for his teeth. At this age, parents need to check the milk teeth regularly for any white spots or pits that indicate early decay. Milk or primary teeth are important for not just chewing but also affect the development of permanent teeth. Losing primary teeth to early decay means loss of crucial space for permanent teeth to emerge, often leading to crowded or impacted teeth later. Any primary teeth lost at this stage need to be replaced with a space maintainer device.

The Transitional Stage: Seven to twelve years is the age when the child transitions from primary to permanent teeth. Loss of teeth should be monitored to watch for misaligned permanent teeth. Permanent teeth at this stage are often spaced and correct naturally as back teeth emerge. However, problems of proclined or crowded teeth, cross-bites, thumb sucking habits etc. may need orthodontic intervention. Early interceptive orthodontics can help avert problems or simplify orthodontic treatment in the future.  Fluoride applications and pit and fissure sealants are simple and effective decay preventive measures for youngsters at this stage.