Dental Health For Your Infant
The bacteria that cause dental decay are transmittable from person to person. Because of this, we recommend that you decrease the amount of bacterial transmission by refraining from sharing straws, cups, forks, etc. with your infant. Avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle or a sippy cup of milk. Letting milk or juice sit on the teeth throughout the night dramatically increases your child's risk for developing early childhood caries. If your child must drink something during the night, water is the best choice. The use of a bottle should be stopped by 12 months of age.
Pacifier or Thumb Sucking Habits
Sucking habits such as finger or pacifier sucking are normal for infants and young children. Sucking is a natural instinct for infants and begins in the womb. Thumb or pacifier sucking can be comforting as well. Although normal for infants and young children, prolonged habits can negatively affect the growth of the teeth and the supporting bone. It is recommended that the use of a pacifier should be stopped by the age of two years. We can discuss methods that can motivate an older child to stop their habit, including methods utilizing appliance therapy.
Teething can begin when your child is only a few months old and will continue periodically until all 20 baby teeth have erupted around the age of three. Gums can become swollen and sore during this time. Avoid the use of over-the-counter topical anesthetics or teething gels due to their potential toxicity to infants. Instead, let the child "gum" on chilled teething rings or cold/frozen cloths.
Prior to the eruption of your child's first tooth, gently clean his or her gums after bottle or breastfeeding with a soft, wet washcloth. Continue in this fashion until the first tooth actually erupts.
After the eruption of the first tooth, brush the new tooth/teeth with a soft, infant-sized toothbrush two times a day. Use a very small amount of fluoridated toothpaste for children under two years of age (the American Association of Pediatric Dentists [AAPD] recommends a "smear") as it is impossible to keep infants from swallowing the toothpaste. If your baby is uncooperative with this process, which is to be expected, laying the child on their back on either the floor or the bed may help.
The AAPD recommends a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste for children from two-to-five years of age. You should continue to brush your child's teeth for them until they are around the age of eight.
Start Out Right
Jackson Pediatric Dentistry hopes to become your child's dental home. Serving as such allows us to implement preventive dental health habits, which keep a child free from dental/oral disease and which continually reinforce the habits at each six-month visit. The first dental exam should be scheduled after the eruption of the child's first tooth. This visit is usually around the age of six months but no later than 12 months.
The best thing we can do to ensure your child a lifetime of healthy smiles is to prevent dental problems from developing in the first place. We will provide you with the information needed to take care of your child's teeth from day one, hopefully avoiding the need for restorative interventions in the future. Prevention is our main focus.