Dental Care for Your Baby
Why should a baby see the dentist so early? What dental problems could a baby have?
The most important reason is to begin a thorough prevention program. Dental problems can begin early. A big concern is Early Childhood Caries (also known as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing caries). Your child risks severe decay from using a bottle during naps or at night or when they nurse continuously from the breast.
The earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems. Children with healthy teeth chew food easily, learn to speak clearly, and smile with confidence. Start your child now on a lifetime of good dental habits.
How can I prevent tooth decay from a bottle or nursing?
Encourage your child to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday. Children should not fall asleep with a bottle. At-will nighttime breast-feeding should be avoided after the first primary (baby) teeth begins to erupt. Drinking juice from a bottle should be avoided. When juice is offered, it should be in a cup.
When should bottle-feeding be stopped?
Children should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age.
Should I worry about thumb and finger sucking?
Thumb sucking is perfectly normal for infants; most stop by age 2. If your child does not, discourage it after age 4. Prolonged thumb sucking can create crowded, crooked teeth, or bite problems. Your dentist will be glad to suggest ways to address a prolonged thumb sucking habit.
When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?
The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush and water. Remember that most small children do not have the dexterity to brush their teeth effectively. Unless it is advised by your child’s dentist, do not use fluoridated toothpaste until age 2-3.
Any advice on teething?
From six months to age 3, your child may have sore gums when teeth erupt. Many children like a clean teething ring, cool spoon, or cold wet washcloth. Some parents swear by a chilled ring; others simply rub the baby’s gums with a clean finger.
When your child needs urgent dental treatment, your dentist stands ready to help. Please keep the emergency number available and convenient. What should I do if my child’s baby tooth is knocked out? Contact your dentist as soon as possible.
What should I do if my child’s permanent tooth is knocked out?
Find the tooth and rinse it gently in cool water. (Do not scrub it or clean it with soap — use just water!) If possible, replace the tooth in the socket and hold it there with clean gauze or a washcloth. If you can’t put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container with milk, saliva, or water. Get to the dental office immediately. (Call the emergency number if it’s after hours.) The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.
What if a tooth is chipped or fractured?
Contact your dentist immediately. Quick action can save the tooth, prevent infection and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment. Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling. If you can find the broken tooth fragment, bring it with you to the dentist.
What about a severe blow to the head or jaw fracture?
Go immediately to the emergency room of your local hospital. A blow to the head can be life threatening.
What if my child has a toothache?
Call your dentist and visit the office promptly. To comfort your child, rinse the mouth with water. Apply a cold compress or ice wrapped in a cloth. Do not put heat or aspirin on the sore area.
Can dental injuries be prevented?
Absolutely! First, reduce oral injury in sports by wearing mouth guards. Second, always use a car seat for young children. Require seat belts for everyone else in the car. Third, child-proof your home to prevent falls, electrical injuries, and choking on small objects. Fourth, protect your child from unnecessary toothaches with regular dental visits and preventive care.