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Early Infant Oral Care
Early Infant Oral Care
A. When will your baby start getting teeth?
Teething varies from child to child. Generally speaking, the lower front (anterior) teeth are the first to emerge. This usually happens between six and eight months of age. By age three, most children have all 20 primary teeth, although the pace and order of emergence may be different for each child.
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B. Tooth decay and early childhood caries (also known as baby bottle tooth decay)
Tooth decay (also referred to as cavities or caries) is a progressive contagious disease that often begins in very young children. Decay is a result of the interaction between bacteria which are normally on our teeth and sugars in the everyday diet. The bacteria use those sugars to produce acid. A tooth exposed to this acid will lose mineral and that loss is the first step towards tooth decay.
Early childhood caries (ECC) is a severe form of decay in which many, usually the upper and/or lower front (anterior), teeth are affected. This is usually due to nursing, drinking from a bottle of milk, formula or juice during naps or at night.
ECC is caused by frequent and long exposure to liquids that contain sugar. The sugar pools in the child’s mouth over a prolonged period. This allows bacteria to use the sugar as food and subsequently produce acid, which attacks the tooth enamel.
If your child has difficulty discontinuing the bottle at bedtime, the only liquid that is not harmful to the teeth is water. If your child still has difficulty with water, you can dilute whatever you have been giving to your child with water and gradually replace it with water.
Non-fluoridated toothpaste should be used until the child is able to spit on his/her own. This usually occurs at about three years of age. When your child is able to avoid swallowing the toothpaste, a pea-size amount of fluoridated toothpaste can be used. Your child should always be supervised during brushing until your dentist has determined their skill level. Generally, at around seven years of age is when a child is able to physically brush on their own. Always keep in mind that each child is different and may need more or less help when it comes to brushing and flossing.
Your child’s teeth as well as gingiva (gums) need to be cleaned. Using a toothbrush and floss together aid your child in establishing good oral health. Brushing all of the teeth surfaces as well as the supporting gums is important in maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Also, remember to brush the tongue as bacteria collects there as well.
Avoid frequent snacking
Sugar can be found in many processed foods, even in some that do not taste sweet. For example, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich not only has sugar in the jelly, but also may have sugar added to the peanut butter. Sugar is also added to such condiments as ketchup and salad dressing.
The frequency and amount of time your child eats the foods high in complex carbohydrates is directly related to the risk of tooth decay. Snacks are usually a main source in causing tooth decay. Always choose snacks that are low in complex carbohydrates and sugars, such as cheese, yogurt or vegetables.
Sealants can last for years if properly cared for. If your child has good oral hygiene and avoids hard and sticky foods, the sealants will last longer. Sealants require periodic evaluation from your dentist and will need repair or replacement periodically.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pediatric dentists have had special training, which allows them to provide the most up-to-date and thorough treatment for a wide variety of children's dental problems. They are trained and qualified to treat special patients who may have emotional, physical, or mental handicaps.
Because of this specialized training and commitment to comprehensive oral health, many parents wisely choose a pediatric dentist to treat their children.
When using fluoride toothpaste, make sure your child is able to spit and doesn't swallow any. A condition known as fluorosis may occur if your child ingests too much fluoride. Consider using non-fluoride toothpaste or a smaller amount of the fluoride toothpaste.
Tooth decay isn't the only reason for a dental visit. We provide an ongoing assessment of changes in your child's oral health. For example, your child may need additional fluoride, dietary changes or sealants for ideal dental health. We may identify orthodontic problems and suggest treatment to guide teeth as they emerge in the mouth.