Written by: Angie, Gabriella's Mom
Before my baby Gabriella got her first few teeth when she was seven months old, I took care of her gums by wiping them with a soft cloth after every feeding. Her first three teeth came in all at once—it was a hard time for everyone! I brushed them with a special toothbrush and toothpaste made just for babies. I thought that was all the care her mouth would need until she was older and had more teeth.
At a regular checkup with her doctor around when she turned one, I learned that Gabriella should visit a dentist now! The doctor explained that it would be a very simple visit. She said that the dentist would only look in Gabriella’s mouth to make sure it was healthy and do a gentle cleaning if necessary. The doctor said that I could ask family and friends or call my insurance company for the names of dentists who see young children.
Luckily, we have a family friend who is a dentist who sees young children and takes our dental insurance. I made the appointment for a time of day when Gabriella is happiest. Before our visit, I read her stories about going to the dentist and talked to her in a positive way about what the visit would be like. I told her that the dentist’s office is a good place with good people. On the day of the visit, I let her bring her favorite toy for comfort.
The people at the dentist’s office were very nice to my baby and me. They made Gabriella laugh and smile. Gabriella sat in my lap the whole time. First, we talked about what kinds of foods she eats and how often we clean her teeth and gums. The dentist told me to give her only water and no juice or other sugary drinks in her bottle or sippy cup. Then, she told me about some healthy foods that would help keep my baby’s smile cavity-free. She showed me the right size toothbrush and how much toothpaste to use. We also talked about fluoride, which is a mineral that can help protect teeth against cavities.
Next, the dentist asked me to put Gabriella in my lap facing me so that we could hold hands and make eye contact. The dentist sat in front of me and we laid Gabriella on her back with her head in the dentist’s lap. Gabriella did not like lying this way and started to cry and squirm a little bit. The dentist said that was okay and that it actually made it easier to see inside her mouth! The exam only took about one minute. My baby sat up and was all smiles again very quickly. She even took the toothbrush out of the dentist’s hand to show off her brushing skills!
The dentist told me that Gabriella’s teeth and gums were very healthy and that we should keep caring for her teeth at home. She said that we should come back in six months for another quick checkup. I’m glad we went because now I know her mouth is healthy and Gabriella’s dentist will help me keep it that way!