Congratulations on the arrival of your baby! Are you prepared for the arrival of your baby’s first tooth? Follow these guidelines and your son or daughter will be on the way to a lifetime of healthy smiles!
Caring For Gums
Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, the gums can benefit from your careful attention. After breast or bottle feeding, wrap one finger with a clean, damp washcloth or piece of gauze and gently rub it across your infant’s gum tissue. This practice both clears your little one’s mouth of any fragments of food and begins the process for building good daily oral care habits.
Baby’s First Tooth
When that first tooth makes an entrance, it’s time to upgrade to a baby toothbrush. There are usually two options: a long-handled toothbrush that you and your baby can hold at the same time, and a finger-puppet-like brush that fits over the tip of your pointer finger. In each case, the bristles are soft and few.
At this stage, toothpaste isn’t necessary; just dip the brush in water before using it. If your little one doesn’t respond well to the introduction of a toothbrush, don’t give up. Switch back to a damp washcloth for a few months and try the toothbrush again. During the teething process, your child will want to chew on just about anything, and a baby toothbrush with a teether can become a favorite toy during this period.
Brushing With Toothpaste
When a few more teeth appear, you can start using toothpaste with your child’s brush. However, for the first two years, be sure to choose toothpaste that does not contain fluoride, unless advised to do so by our office, since too much fluoride can be dangerous for youngsters. At this stage, use only a tiny amount of toothpaste. From the beginning, have your little one practice spitting the toothpaste out after brushing to prepare for fluoride toothpaste, which should not be swallowed at any age.
Don’t give your infant any sort of sweetened liquids such as flavored drinks or soda. Even the sugars present in fruit juice, formula, and milk (this goes for breast milk as well) can cause decay, so regular teeth and gum cleaning is vital. Also, make sure your son or daughter never goes to bed with a bottle; sugary liquids in prolonged contact with teeth are a guarantee for early-childhood decay, also called baby-bottle caries.
FIRST VISIT TO THE DENTIST
It’s recommended that you bring your baby in for a visit within six months of the first tooth’s eruption — usually around his/her first birthday. Since decay can occur in even the smallest of teeth, the earlier your baby visits us, the more likely he or she can avoid problems. We’ll look for any signs of early problems with your infant’s oral heath, and check in with you about the best way to care for your little one’s teeth. Remember that preparing for each dental visit with a positive attitude goes a long way toward making your child comfortable with regular checkups.
Setting A Good Example
As part of the natural learning process, little ones are expert mimics, and you can take advantage of this talent. Brush and floss daily while your child is watching, and he or she will intuit at an early age the importance of your good habits. As soon as your child shows interest, offer a toothbrush of his or her own and encourage your toddler to “brush” with you. (You’ll find toothbrushes with chunky, short handles that are easy to grip.) Most children don’t have the dexterity necessary to clean their own teeth thoroughly until they’re about six or seven, so you’ll have to do that part of the job.
Try different tactics to make brushing fun: flavored toothpaste, a toothbrush with a favorite character on it, or singing songs about brushing. The primary goal is to instill healthy oral habits at an early age to set your child up for a lifetime of healthy, cavity-free teeth!
THE IMPORTANCE OF BABY TEETH
Just because your child’s primary teeth, often known as “baby teeth,” eventually fall out, doesn’t mean they’re not important. Primary teeth play an important role in your child’s overall health, development, and wellbeing. Much like your own permanent teeth, your child’s primary teeth require professional and at-home dental care. Decay can happen at any age, so it’s time to visit the dentist within six months of your child’s first tooth appearing, and certainly by age one. In addition to checking for tooth decay and other pediatric dental problems, our dentist will show you the best ways to start your child on a lifetime of good oral health habits.
What Is The Purpose Of Primary Teeth?
Most children have a full set of primary teeth by the time they’re three years old. Primary teeth are important for many reasons. They:
- Promote good nutrition through proper chewing
- Assist in speech development
- Build self-esteem by providing a beautiful smile
- Enable the child to pay attention and learn in school without the distraction
- Of dental pain.
- Provide a path for permanent teeth to follow when they are ready to erupt
What Happens If Baby Teeth Aren’t Taken Care Of?
Primary teeth can get cavities, just like adult teeth. In addition to the pain caused by a cavity, young children can develop dental infections. Primary tooth decay is a serious, infectious, and transmissible disease that can spread quickly and lead to infection or abscess without proper precautions. This can be especially harmful to children because their immune systems aren’t fully developed.
If a tooth becomes infected and needs to be extracted, Dr. Herzog will recommend inserting a space maintainer. If the space is not preserved, other teeth may drift, causing difficult-to-treat crowding and orthodontic problems when permanent teeth come in.
The most important aspect of taking care of your child’s primary teeth is the example you help to set. Early on, your child should develop the habit of brushing and flossing that will carry into adulthood. Healthy teeth also lead to easier dental visits, and a trusting relationship with his/her dentist.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Also known as early childhood caries, baby bottle tooth decay refers to tooth decay in infants and toddlers. Your child needs strong, healthy primary teeth to chew food properly and learn to speak, so preventing baby bottle tooth decay is very important.
The Causes Of Tooth Decay In Children
There are many risk factors when it comes to children’s tooth decay. A common cause is the frequent and prolonged exposure of your child’s teeth to sugary drinks, including milk, formula, and fruit juice. Giving your little one a sugary drink at nap or night-time can be especially harmful, because the flow of saliva decreases during sleep. Bacteria in the mouth thrive on sugar and produce acids that attack the teeth.
Tooth decay can also be caused by bacteria passed from you to your baby through saliva by sharing spoons, testing foods before feeding them to your baby, and cleaning off a pacifier in your mouth instead of with water. These germs can start the process that causes cavities even before your baby’s primary teeth emerge, so it’s important to avoid sharing saliva with your baby from the start.
If your infant or toddler does not receive an adequate amount of fluoride internally through water, especially if he or she drinks bottled water, there can also be an increased risk for tooth decay. Dr. Nikole or Dr. Oleg may prescribe fluoride supplements to help prevent tooth decay.
TOOTH DECAY PREVENTION
The good news about baby bottle tooth decay is that it’s preventable!
- Wipe your infant’s gums with a clean gauze pad or washcloth after each feeding.
- Begin brushing your child’s teeth, without toothpaste, when the first tooth comes in.
- Clean and massage gums in areas without teeth.
- Place only formula, milk, or breast milk in bottles. Avoid filling a bottle with liquids like sugar water, juice, or soft drinks.
- Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle that contains anything but water.
- Never dip a pacifier in anything sweet, like sugar water or honey.
- Schedule an appointment with our office by your child’s first birthday or when the first teeth begin to emerge.
Remember, healthy little smiles grow up to be healthy big smiles!
Call today to schedule your appointment at our Issaquah dental practice.