Having a new baby is accompanied by all kinds of new routines and schedules for first-time parents. There are many things to remember every day, from well-child exams and baby proofing the home, to what to pack for trips to the grocery store or outings with friends. One duty that may be put on a back burner is baby dental care, but with a little planning, caring for your infant’s or toddler’s oral health can become an easy and regular part of your days.
Looking for your first pediatric dentist in Manhasset, NY? Call Dr. Kimmy to set up your baby’s first checkup, which we call a happy visit.
Are baby teeth important?
The simple answer is yes. Baby teeth begin to form in utero during the second trimester. Though you cannot see them, at birth your baby has 20 primary teeth, some of which are already developed in the jaw.
Primary, or baby, teeth are significant for multiple reasons. These earliest pearly whites are critical in assisting your baby in learning to speak clearly and chew naturally. They also start forge the path that permanent teeth will take in the future.
Toddler & Baby Dental Care
Bath time is a great time to perform daily dental care and establish early good oral hygiene habits.
- Before your baby has teeth, wipe his or her gums daily with a clean, damp washcloth to remove harmful bacteria. This will acclimate parent and baby to a daily oral care routine that will develop into brushing and flossing, as the baby grows into a toddler.
- When the first baby tooth appears, brush it gently with an infant toothbrush and rice-sized amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste. Choose a toothpaste with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance.
- As more teeth come in, begin flossing between them when the teeth start touching. For convenience, a handheld, pre-threaded flosser may be easiest to use in your little one’s tiny mouth.
- Children are usually able to spit while brushing by age two. Once your child understands how to spit used toothpaste out, rather than swallow it, you can switch to regular, fluoridated toothpaste. Swallowing fluoride in early childhood can lead to white, horizontal lines on permanent teeth, which we call fluorosis.
- At age 3, increase the toothpaste amount from rice to pea-sized amounts.
The daily oral care routine should be practiced after breakfast and before bedtime. Continue to supervise children closely throughout childhood – and be sure to check on your teenager’s teeth, as well. Kids, as well as teens, often get busy and forget to brush and floss twice a day. If plaque builds up on teeth for 48 hours, it calcifies into calculus or tartar, a substance that can brushing and flossing will not remove. Only a dental cleaning will remove stubborn calculus. As it sits on teeth, it irritates gum tissue and holds bacteria that can cause infection. Without diligent daily dental care, your child will develop gum disease and cavities. For tips and advice on improving the daily routine, or for ideas to encourage your child, talk with Dr. Kimmy at your next visit.
Tooth Decay and Cavities
Babies can develop tooth decay and cavities when appropriate feeding habits are not practiced. Putting your baby to bed with a bottle might be convenient, but unless the bottle is filled with pure water, it will harm their teeth. The sugars in juice and milk will remain on the baby’s teeth for hours, fostering bacterial growth and acid erosion. Ultimately, a painful and unhealthy condition called baby bottle decay can develop. If you notice that your child’s front teeth become pitted, decayed, and discolored, schedule an appointment immediately. These are common signs of baby bottle decay. Children with severe cases may develop advanced cavities and need their baby teeth extracted (permanent teeth will come in later).
What about teething?
When talking about dental health, teething is usually the first thing that comes to a new parent’s mind. The first tooth appears when a baby is about six months of age, and the first teeth to come in are typically the lower front teeth. Most baby teeth completely erupt by age three.
As new teeth start to come in and saliva production increases, drooling will become a constant part of daily life. To soothe your teething munchkin, provide a damp washcloth cooled in the freezer for 15 to 30 minutes, for gnawing and chewing. Solid teething rings (not liquid filled) are also a great option. Teething biscuits are also popular, but rarely contain any nutritional value and leave bits of food on your baby’s teeth and gums. If you are breastfeeding and your baby is more interested in chewing on your nipples (ouch!), especially at feeding time, massage your baby’s gums with your fingers dipped in cool water before feeding.
Clean teething toys, washcloths, that special “lovey” toy are all great chewing options for teething babies. Let them chew and gnaw all day long!
First Dental Appointment by First Birthday
Call Dr. Kimmy at 516-365-4 KID to set up your first dental appointment before your baby’s first birthday. Bi-annual checkups are recommended for to track the progress of oral development.Leave a reply →