Early Infant Oral Care
Establishing Oral Care Early on for a Future Healthy Smile.
Taking care of your child’s oral health and smile begins even before they have teeth. When you visit Children’s Dentistry, Dr. Mark Nelson, Dr. Treagan White, and our team will help you learn how to care for your child’s mouth so that they can enjoy good oral health and begin to develop the oral habits that will lead to a healthy smile. To learn more about early infant oral care in Centerville, Utah, or to make an appointment with our caring pediatric dentists, call us today at 801-295-8322.
All infants should have a daily oral cleaning. Using a soft, damp cloth, gently wipe your baby’s gums to remove any lingering formula or milk and prevent bacteria buildup.
Teeth begin to erupt through the gum line at about 6 months of age and continue to gradually appear until about age three. As soon as teeth begin to emerge from the gums, you should begin using a soft-bristle baby toothbrush to clean your infant’s teeth. Use a tiny smear of child-safe toothpaste for children under the age of 2. After age 2, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to clean their teeth. It would be best to clean your child’s teeth at least twice a day. We recommend that you brush and floss your child’s teeth for them until about age seven, when their motor skills will have developed enough for them to brush on their own.
As your child develops teeth, you should avoid giving them a bottle filled with juice or other sweetened liquids when they go to bed. If your child insists on having a bottle, fill it only with water. This will help to reduce the risk of tooth decay.
Your baby’s mouth may also become sore while teething. You can help them feel more comfortable by providing a chilled teething ring and gently wiping their gums with a cold washcloth before and after meals.
When your child’s teeth begin to erupt, schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist for your child’s first “well-baby” appointment. Pediatric dentists are specially trained to provide dental care for infants and young children to ensure that they remain healthy and develop correctly.
If you have any questions about early infant oral care, please contact our office.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
One of the most serious problems that children face is baby bottle tooth decay. Our pediatric dentists and team provide treatments and instruction to help prevent decay from developing and to restore your child’s oral health if it does.
Baby bottle tooth decay is a term used to refer to early childhood cavities. This type of tooth decay occurs primarily in infants and toddlers and is caused by bacteria in the mouth. Baby bottle tooth decay is most frequently the result of a child keeping a bottle of sweetened liquid in bed at night or parents and children sharing saliva via utensils or cups. When children keep a bottle of sweetened liquid in bed with them, such as breast milk, baby formula, juice, or sweetened water, the liquid can remain in the mouth for some time. Oral bacteria feed on the sugar left in the mouth by these liquids and emit harmful acids that attack and wear away tooth enamel. Likewise, sharing forks or spoons with your child can transmit saliva that includes decay-causing bacteria between your mouths.
You can help prevent baby bottle tooth decay by following these suggestions:
- Rinse pacifiers and toys in clean water, and use a clean spoon for each person eating. Do not clean the pacifiers or toys in your own mouth or share a spoon with your child.
- Never place sugary drinks in baby bottles or sippy cups.
- If your child insists on having a bottle in bed, fill it only with water.
- Do not dip pacifiers in honey or sweet liquids.
- Encourage your child to use a regular cup after he or she reaches 12 months of age.
- Help your child maintain a balanced, nutritious diet.
- Gently clean your child’s gums after each feeding with a clean washcloth.
- Use an age-appropriate, soft-bristled toothbrush and an ADA-approved toothpaste when teeth begin to emerge.
- Clean your child’s teeth for them until about age 7. Before this time, children have not developed the necessary motor skills and coordination to effectively brush all areas of their mouths.
- Learn about thumb sucking and its effects on your child’s oral health.
- Ask our pediatric dentists to review your child’s levels of fluoride.
Perinatal & Infant Oral Health
Caring for your child’s oral health begins even before they are born. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that all pregnant women receive oral healthcare during their pregnancy to help keep themselves and their children healthy. We encourage you to regularly meet with your dentist to ensure that you receive the care you need.
There is evidence that periodontal disease increases the risk of premature birth and low-birth-weight babies. Additionally, the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy make it more likely that expecting mothers will develop periodontal disease. You can take several steps to keep your mouth healthy during pregnancy and decrease the risk of spreading disease-causing bacteria. These steps include:
- Visiting your general dentist regularly
- Brushing and flossing daily
- Maintaining a balanced, nutritious diet
- Reducing your intake of sugary and starchy foods and beverages
- Using an ADA-approved fluoridated toothpaste and mouth rinse
- Not sharing utensils, cups, or food with your children, as this may transmit decay- and disease-causing bacteria to your children
- Using Xylitol chewing gum – this gum has been proven to help reduce cavities in both adults and children
Establishing Your Child’s Dental Home
We recommend that you bring your child to meet with our caring pediatric dentists by the time of their first birthday. By establishing a dental home early on, you can ensure that your child receives the regular care they need to enjoy a healthy smile. Early dental visits also allow your child to begin developing positive, trusting associates with the dental office.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children visit a dentist to receive an initial dental exam within six months of when their first tooth erupts. These first dental visits are designed to establish a dental home and help your child start developing positive associations with visiting the dentist.
A typical pediatric dental appointment will include the following:
- The dental team will greet you and your child.
- We will review the health history of your infant and your family.
- Our pediatric dentists will ask about your child’s oral habits, pacifier use, diet, and general development.
- We will perform a gentle examination of your child’s teeth and gums, during which we will note any teeth that may appear in the coming months.
- We will provide advice on brushing, flossing, how to prevent oral injury, fluoride intake, and other topics to help you keep your child’s mouth healthy at home.
- We will provide a description of your child’s current oral health in detail and make any needed recommendations about oral habits, toothbrushes and toothpaste, diet, and pacifiers.
- Our team will create a schedule of regular appointments for your child.
- We will address your questions and concerns.
Remember, if you are calm, your child will feel calm. You can help your child feel happier and more comfortable in the dental office by being positive and calm yourself. You can encourage your child to develop positive associations with visiting the dentist by avoiding threatening language and providing positive explanations about what will happen during the appointment.
For more information and to schedule a consultation with our pediatric dentists, please contact our office today.
Healthy Smiles Start Here!
Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions about your child’s first visit or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mark Nelson or Dr. Treagan White.