Dental Care for Your Baby
Q. When should my child first see a dentist?
"First visit by first birthday" sums it up. Your child should visit a pediatric dentist when the first tooth comes in, usually between 6 and 12 months of age. This visit will establish a dental home for your child. Early examination and preventive care will protect your child’s smile now and in the future.
Q. Why so early? What dental problems could a baby have?
The most important reason is to begin a thorough prevention program. Dental problems can begin early. A big concern is Early Childhood Caries (formerly known as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing caries). Once a child’s diet includes anything besides breast-milk, erupted teeth are at risk for decay. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems. Children with healthy teeth chew food easily and smile with confidence. Start your child now on a lifetime of good dental habits.
Q. How can I prevent tooth decay from nursing or using a bottle?
Children should not fall asleep with a bottle containing anything other than water. Drinking juice from a bottle should be avoided. Fruit juice should only be offered in a cup with meals.
Q. When should bottle-feeding be stopped?
Children should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age.
Q. Should I worry about thumb and finger sucking?
Thumb sucking is perfectly normal for infants; many stop by age 2. Prolonged thumb sucking can create crooked teeth or bite problems. If the habit continues beyond age 3, a professional evaluation is recommended. Your pediatric dentist will be glad to suggest ways to address a prolonged thumb sucking habit.
Q. When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?
The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. As soon as the teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice daily using fluoridated toothpaste and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Use a "smear" of toothpaste to brush the teeth of a child less than 2 years of age. For the 2-5 year old, dispense a "pea-size" amount of toothpaste and perform or assist your child’s tooth brushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively.
Q. Any advice on teething?
From six months to age 3, your child may have tender gums when teeth erupt. Many children like a clean teething ring, cool spoon or cold wet washcloth. Some parents swear by a chilled ring; others simply rub the baby’s gums with a clean finger.
How Do I Prevent Cavities?
Good oral hygiene removes bacteria and the left over food particles that combine to create cavities. For infants, use a wet gauze or clean washcloth to wipe the plaque from teeth and gums. Avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle filled with anything other than water.
For older children, brush their teeth at least twice a day. Also, watch the number of snacks containing sugar that you give your children.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends visits every six months to the pediatric dentist, beginning at your child’s first birthday. Routine visits will start your child on a lifetime of good dental health.
Your pediatric dentist may also recommend protective sealants or home fluoride treatments for your child. Sealants can be applied to your child’s molars to prevent decay on hard to clean surfaces.
My Child's Diet
Q. How do I create a diet safe my child’s teeth?
As we stated earlier, initiate a balanced diet. Analyze the frequency in which starch based foods are eaten. These types of foods include breads, pasta, potato chips, etc. In addition, sugar is found in more than just candy. All types of sugars can promote tooth decay. For example, most milk-based products contain sugar. A Peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a favorite for bag lunches. Unfortunately, it includes sugar not only in the jelly, but also in the peanut butter. For less sugar and more flavor and nutrients, try replacing jelly with fresh fruit slices (apples, pears, or bananas) or chopped dried fruit. Go easy on the peanut butter, though—it’s high in fat. Choose the “no-salt-added” kind for less sodium.
Q. Should I eliminate all sugar and starch from my child’s diet?
Of course not. Many of these foods are incredibly important to your child’s health. Starch based foods are much safer to eat for teeth when eaten with an entire meal. Foods that stick to teeth are also more difficult to wash away by water, saliva or other drinks. It’s important you talk to our staff about your child’s diet and maintaining proper dental care.
Q. How do I know if my child is getting the appropriate amount of fluoride in their diet?
If you do not reside in a community that has fluoridated water or have the appropriate amount of natural fluoride in your well water, your child will need some sort of supplement in their diet. We can help you determine how much of a supplement your child needs based upon their weight, age, current water fluoride levels and brand of toothpaste.