Baby teeth (also known as primary teeth) begin forming during pregnancy. Thus, a child’s oral health starts with their mother when they are still developing in the womb. So, it is important for pregnant women to eat a nutritious diet with enough vitamins and minerals to ensure proper development of their unborn child. In addition, pregnant women should be seen by a dentist for a complete exam to address any cavities or gum disease as these dental related issues can affect their unborn child. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding important topics affecting your child’s teeth and gums. If you have any additional questions regarding your child’s teeth and gums, be sure to ask Dr. Baker.
When should I take my child to see a dentist?
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a child should see a pediatric dentist when their first tooth becomes present in their mouth (this is typically between 6 and 12 months of age) or by their first birthday. This appointment helps to establish a dental home for your child – a place where your child’s dental needs/issues can be addressed and questions/concerns that you have as a parent can be answered.
The pediatric dentist will perform an exam to ensure that there are no tooth or gum issues present. In addition, the pediatric dentist will inform you of early prevention techniques to help keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy. Remember, helping your child reach good oral health is a team effort that involves both the dentist and parents, so start early!
What kind of dental problems could my baby have?
The key to fighting dental disease is prevention. Early Childhood Caries (previously known as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing caries) can start as soon as a child’s first tooth becomes present. Thus, the earlier your child sees a pediatric dentist, the better the chance of preventing dental problems including cavities.
Remember, children with healthy teeth are less likely to have dental pain, are able to chew food more easily, and are more likely to show off their beautiful smile!
What should I know about nursing or using a bottle as it relates to my child’s oral health?
Once the first baby tooth comes in and other sources of nutrition for your baby have been introduced, at-will breast-feeding should no longer occur. Furthermore, do not allow your baby to fall asleep with a bottle containing anything but water. In fact, children should be weaned from the bottle between 12 and 14 months of age. In general, minimize the amount of juice and other sugar-containing drinks your child consumes. So, if your child wants juice, make sure they do not drink more than a cup per day, they drink it over a short period of time (not throughout the day), and that it is given with a meal or snack (not by itself). Remember, WATER IS BEST for your child’s teeth!
When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?
You can start cleaning your child’s gums with a soft toothbrush or wet cloth when they are born. When your child’s teeth begin to come in, you can start brushing their teeth with a fluoridated toothpaste. For children under the age of 3 years, use no more than a “smear” amount of fluoridated toothpaste. For children over the age of 3, use a “pea-size” amount of fluoridated toothpaste.
It is important to understand that children under the age of 6 years are not able to brush and floss their teeth very well, so be sure to help your child brush and floss their teeth. Doing so will help prevent dental cavities and allow your child to smile with confidence!
Any advice on teething?
Teething takes place when your child begins getting his/her new teeth. A child’s first set of teeth usually begin to come in at about 6 months of age, although the timing varies among children. All of your child’s 20 baby teeth should be present by 3 years of age. Your child will lose their other baby teeth between the ages of 6 and 12 years.
When teeth erupt into the mouth, the gums may become tender and your child may have some discomfort. Parents may consider using a teething ring, an iced/wet wash-cloth, or rub the baby’s gums with a clean finger.
How should I address a thumb/finger sucking habit?
Thumb sucking is normal for infants and usually stops by 2 years of age. However, thumb sucking that goes on beyond the age of 3 years can cause teeth to come in crooked or create bite problems. Your child’s pediatric dentist will discuss ways to manage the habit, and ways to correct any tooth or bite issues that may have arisen as a result of the thumb/finger sucking habit.