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Today was Willa’s first dentist appointment!
She got her first tooth at around 6 months (her two little bottom teeth were first) and our friend who is a dental hygienist gave us a few tips to help look after her teeth until her first visit to the dentist:
- Wash / wipe teeth with washcloth and water.
- Use a silicone toothbrush and/or toothbrush teether to get her used to a toothbrush-like object going in her mouth. We got this little Willa the Whale toothbrush (could not resist) and the Haakaa 360 Baby Toothbrush and both are great!
- Do a little baby toothbrush for teeth, just don’t brush her gums with the bristled brush. We got the Radius Ultra Soft Toothbrush for 6-18 months and it has been working well for us! It says it’s soft enough for the gums as well so we don’t have to worry too much about that, plus it’s BPA and synthetic dye free!
- Brush or wipe at least once a day, and at this point just using water is fine.
A few months later, our pediatrician recommended starting to clean Willa’s teeth twice a day and to book a dental visit 6 months after her first tooth came in, or at around 12 months of age, so we booked an appointment for today!
Sometimes brushing Willa’s teeth is a total success and she is very much into it, but sometimes we find it to be a bit of a struggle if she is not in the mood, especially at night if she’s tired and ready for bed! Mark and I came up with a list of things that we think help her:
- Clapping and celebrating after we get a little brush of her teeth successfully.
- Modelling brushing our own teeth and opening our mouth wide.
- Taking turns to brush our teeth.
- Reading our teeth brushing book called The Brushies with her and talking about brushing our teeth (we do this throughout the day).
- Giving her one toothbrush to hold. We then use another one to brush her teeth and switch it up for variety. Sometimes she will put the one she is holding in her mouth and brush her own teeth and we celebrate this, or sometimes she likes to shove it into our mouths and then finds it very fun so opens her mouth so we can get into it to brush!
One thing we have noticed is that as her teeth grow more, it seems she is less sensitive and brushing has become easier.
On to today’s visit with Dr. Sabiya!
It was a little bit of a hot mess day where Willa woke up late, then we had to quickly eat breakfast and then go to the appointment so I think our little lady felt the chaos and was pretty grumps even before we left the house. We got to the dentist’s office and it was really nice because on Sundays, they only see 1 family at a time so COVID wise it was very safe as we were the only ones in the office. The dental assistant, Gloria, and Dr. Sabiya were both lovely and friendly, and we all went into the room with Willa. Being the only family in the office was really nice because we just left our stroller and all of our stuff at the front and didn’t have to lug it around with us.
Willa was not the happiest of campers before Dr. Sabiya looked into her mouth and refused to touch the balloon they offered her beforehand, but the dentist only looked in her mouth very quickly and as soon as the mouth examination was done (it was like less than 30 seconds), Willa sat up, stopped crying and exclaimed, “BLOON!” and grabbed the balloon.
The rest of the visit was us just chatting to the dentist about Willa’s teeth and her giving us a lot of great tips. She said that Willa was delayed dentally which is actually not a bad thing because it means that she will probably get her adult teeth later which is better as she’ll be more responsible at taking care of them. We also discussed general tips as well as thumb sucking, because Willa sucks her thumb to self-soothe.
Dr. Sabiya & Gloria were very baby friendly with balloons and toys and Willa was very content with her many balloons and goody bag!
Tips from the dentist:
- Try to avoid sticky stuff like chewy candy, dried fruit, etc. that will get stuck at the back of her teeth when she gets them.
- Sippy cups, bottles and straw cups all prolong the amount of time that liquid is in the mouth so if we use those things only use them for water. We don’t use sippy cups with Willa, only have water in her portable straw cup and are weaning her off of her bottles right now so the dentist was happy with that.
- Don’t worry about flossing until she gets her back teeth, but if we see something stuck in her front teeth we can always use a little floss stick to get it out.
- Fluoride: Non-fluoride toothpaste until 2 or until they can spit because we live in NYC where there is fluoride in the water. If Willa gets her back molars before then we could do once a week with a fluoride toothpaste, and only do a smear, less than a grain of rice on a dry toothbrush. Until then, water is fine, or non-fluoride toothpaste. We can practice spitting with an open cup in the bathtub to help her with this skill.
- Thumb sucking: Willa sucks her thumb so we talked a lot about this. The dentist said that she’s not concerned at the moment but it does change the shape of the palate, so we should really try to get her to stop sucking her thumb by 2.5 years. One thing we can do is gently take it out of her mouth during the day when she does not need it. We could also try a teething ring on her drool bib as well to encourage her to bite down and gnaw on the teether instead of her thumb.
- Brushing her teeth in her room is totally fine for now. At some point we can move to the bathroom.
- Children can’t brush properly until they’re 5-7 years old so we must help her until then. If we find, at around the age of 3, that she is really wanting to do it independently, let her do it by herself in the morning and then it’s our turn at night. The dentist introduced us to the saying, ‘We brush in the morning to keep our friends and we brush at night to keep our teeth’.
- Try not to share utensils with Willa because this is how bacteria for tooth decay is transferred to her! This tip is a little tricky for us to follow through with, but I thought it was an interesting fact.
Overall it was a very successful visit and we were very happy with how it went! Would definitely recommend them so let me know if you’re in NYC looking for a great children’s dentist as I am happy to provide their details!
This visit really prompted me to start helping Willa to stop sucking her thumb. I want to do it in a really gentle and positive way and I think starting earlier will be helpful with this so stay tuned for updates on our thumb sucking cessation journey!
Willa got a cookie (wooden teether) on the way home and had a great nap and rest of the day. Summer is here today and it is HOT in NYC!
P.S. I am uploading this blog post about a week after our visit and Willa is LOVING the little red shaped toothbrush from the dentist and happily holds onto it as we brush her teeth. Not sure if it is because it is new or it it’s fun to hold on to or what, but so far it’s been great! We have added it to our rotation and she’s doing pretty well now. Found them here and here in case you’d like to try it with your babe!