Do you know what the #1 disease among children in this country is?
You may be surprised to learn that it is tooth decay. It is a very serious problem and we believe that knowing how to care for your child’s oral health when they are babies will help to prevent what is essentially a preventable disease. Here are some great tips on how to keep your baby’s teeth as healthy as can be.
1. First Visit – Bringing your child in their first year as soon as their first tooth appears or before their 1st birthday will help to acquaint your child with the idea of visiting the dentist regularly and allows us to assess the development of their mouth and teeth. It is an opportunity for us to share oral hygiene instructions, diet information, teething tips and accident prevention strategies with you and for you to ask questions so that your child can start their way towards a lifetime of good dental health.
2. Gum Care – You can keep your baby’s gums clean even before they have any teeth at all by taking a soft moistened cloth, and after feeding, rubbing gently along and around the gum area. As well as keeping their gums healthy and clean, this routine will help your child to become accustomed to oral care.
3. Thumb sucking – Because the developing jaw bone is still soft, the pressure from sucking on thumbs and fingers can actually remould the shape of the dental arch causing teeth to flare out. If you can discourage this before it becomes a habit, you will save yourself a lot of headaches down the road. There are a number of dentally acceptable pacifiers that are available on the market. Their shape is designed to help keep babies’ jaws in the correct position during use and their use should be discarded after the age of 2.
4. Diet – Because sugar is in almost everything, we all have to be extra careful to read labels and monitor how often our children are eating. We can not emphasize enough how important it is to allow at least 4 hours in between meals to allow your child’s saliva to heal any damage done by a sugar-related acid attacks to their teeth enamel.
5. Baby Bottle Decay – This is a painful condition whereby teeth become rotten as a result of being frequently exposed to liquids containing sugars. Even allowing your child to drink from a sippy cup all throughout the day or have a pacifier dipped in sweetened foods can eventually cause a mouthful of cavities. If your child is already in the habit of drinking from a bottle or sippy cup all day long or while sleeping, you can begin to break this habit by gradually diluting the sugary drink with water over 2-3 weeks until there is eventually just water in their bottle/cup. If done properly, your child should not notice the change.
Q: How long should I allow my baby to drink from a bottle?
A: Babies have a natural sucking action that helps to soothe them and aid in the development of muscles, but they can be weaned from using a baby bottle by their 1st birthday and begin drinking from a cup.
6. Oral Hygiene for teeth – You can begin using a soft, infant toothbrush with water to remove plaque and food debris from your child’s teeth as soon as they appear. Avoid using toothpaste until they can spit effectively which is usually around the age of two. Even when young children can brush on their own, parents should still assist them to ensure that their teeth are cleaned properly. As they age and their dexterity improves, you can begin introducing the idea of flossing. Using floss wands/picks help when coordination is still developing. If it is difficult for your child to brush for two minutes you may want to use a musical timer or get them to hum a song like the, “ABCs” while they are brushing.
7. Germs – Many parents are surprised to learn that they can pass on the bacteria in their own mouth bacteria to their babies. Cross-contamination can occur anytime you taste your baby’s food before feeding, blowing on your baby’s food to “cool off ” foods, clean a pacifier or bottle nipple with your mouth, or share a spoon or toothbrush.
8. Mouth Injuries – Traumas to the mouth area can happen easily as a babies learn how to hold their head upright, sit, crawl and walk. As they age and become more mobile, there are new hazards to watch out for and a helmet worn 24-7 is not practical. If your baby experiences an injury to the mouth, bring them to their dentist right away where they will help manage the pain, determine the degree of injury and decide on a course of treatment if necessary.
First Aid for Children’s Teeth
The Importance of Baby Teeth:
The 20 baby teeth are important place holders for 20 of the 32 adult teeth that will eventually replace them. The goal is to keep them as healthy as possible because teeth that are lost too early can cause poor eating habits, speech difficulties, unsightly smile, and crooked and damaged adult teeth. For more information about the importance of baby teeth see our blog:
Baby Teeth DO Matter
At Your Smile Dental Care, we are very passionate about teaching good dental hygiene to children and their parents, but the habits are formed at home. When you know and practice good oral care at home, your child will be more likely to follow your good example. Together, you and your dental team can help your child keep their teeth for life and that is certainly something to SMILE about!
Yours in Better Dental Health,
The Your Smile Dental Care Team
(416) 783- 3533