Schedule your own dental cleaning and exam in the second trimester of your pregnancy. Basic cleaning and care is safe for your baby, and decreases risk of bacteria transmission and infection. Avoid any cosmetic procedures until after your child is born, and limit or delay emergency procedures, such as extractions, if possible. Schedule your baby’s first dental health and oral exam no later than one year of age, or when the first tooth erupts, according to both the ADA and The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. The goals of this first visit are: Risk assessment: Your pediatrician will relay whether any additional steps must be taken based on the exam. Education: Pediatricians and pediatric dentists recommend dental wellness visits every six months for the first five years. Referrals: This means choosing a pediatric dentist who will provide comprehensive, consistent care over the next five years. In the first year, clean your infant’s gums at least twice a day, in the morning and evening, and after feedings, to prevent bacteria and food buildup. The best technique is to wrap a clean, damp gauze around your clean index finger and gently wipe your baby’s gums. When your infant starts teething, brush his or her teeth with products such as Colgate’s fluoride-free My First Colgate™ Toothpaste and Toothbrushes. Look for soft bristle, easy grip brushes for infants and children up to two years old. Avoid overexposure to fluoride, whether in toothpaste or through bottled water. Don’t let your baby fall asleep nursing or with a bottle in his mouth; this will minimize bacteria development. And don’t share your utensils, drinking straws or cups. Remember your bacteria is transferable and can cause infections. Putting all these practices into place, from when to start care to what specific steps to take or to avoid, will ensure your newborn has the safest and most effective oral care. That’s great peace of mind for any parent. A smile can go a long way, especially for a scared child. Keep an upbeat attitude when interacting with the children who visit your office so they know they can relax too. Even if you aren’t smiling outright, try to retain a soft expression – a lot people inadvertently look upset when they’re concentrating. Many people are tempted to dumb down their vocabulary or raise the pitch of their voice when speaking with children. While kids haven’t developed as much as you, they are still intelligent and curious people. Speak to them the way you would an adult (though minus any bad language, of course). If kids don’t understand a word you used or a concept you explained, they’ll ask for clarification – this kind of interaction makes for a great learning experience. Your towering figure can scare some kids – get down to their eye level when you interact in order to help them feel more comfortable. When the family first comes in to the office, kneel and introduce yourself to the child so they’ll know you when you take them to the exam room. Get to know the kids you work with during the course of their visit. Some children loosen up when they talk about themselves or their favorite things. Ask about what games they like, their favorite subjects or their best friends. Try to relate without interrupting and remember to talk to them as if they were an adult. Avoid pushing kids, especially if you can tell they are very nervous. Wait for them to respond and encourage their answers with a smile. Asking questions and talking is a great way to distract kids from the fact they are in a foreign place. If your office has toys and games, try offering them to a scared child – this is a great option for kids who don’t respond to talking. The game will hold their attention while you and the parent talk about issues or while you administer a shot.