Pure Pediatric Dentistry: Dental Care for Infants & Toddlers
Do you need a pediatric dentist to help get your child's dental health started out the right way? Good! That's why we're here!
Establishing a pattern of separating eating and sleeping while your baby is young is very important. Feed the baby, and then wipe off the gums with a gauze square. This separates eating from sleeping and gets the baby accustomed to mouth cleaning routines. Keeping the bottle out of the crib allows the baby to learn to sleep through the night at a younger age, and avoids a later struggle over taking away the bedtime bottle.
Usually at about six months, but there is a huge variation between babies. Some start erupting their teeth soon after they are born, and some are toothless until 18 months old. The order in which the teeth erupt is almost always the same. The lower front teeth usually come in first.
Teething rings are important to help the teeth work through the gums. As soon as the teeth penetrate the gum tissue, the discomfort begins to go away. Try cooling the teet h ring in the refrigerator. Give the baby Tylenol Drops when needed, but be sure to stay within the guidelines on the bottle. A surface anesthetic preparation like Oral-Gel for teething may be useful at bedtime or when the baby seems particularly upset, but it washes away in a short time. Be sure to use it only according to the directions. There is no perfect solution, so just give extra love and this problem will solve itself. If the baby has a fever or actually seems sick, be sure to check with your pediatrician. An illness may be present along with the teething.
Early childhood caries (ECC)
Early Childhood Caries (ECC), sometimes called Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (BBTD) is decay of the baby teeth caused by taking a nap or night bottle with anything but water in it. Milk, formula, juice, and other similar foods can all cause tooth decay. When the baby is sleeping, its saliva is not washing across the teeth to protect them. ECC is the largest cause of surgical procedures on children between 12 and 36 months. (Learn more about preventing ECC.)
Start cleaning shortly before teeth erupt through the gums. You can use a gauze square or a little cloth finger cover at first. For children under 3, use a dry toothbrush. Don’t even wet the toothbrush with water. Don’t use toothpaste. To get the best combination of tooth cleanliness and child participation, we suggest that parents do the first part of each brushing session. Put the child’s head in your lap so you can see well, and brush all surfaces thoroughly. This will take about two minutes. Then encourage the child to finish by going to the sink and polishing the teeth with a toothbrush.
First dental visit
About one year of age is a good time for a toddler to have a first exam. This lets the parents and dentist get an early start on a prevention program that will keep decay away and minimize other dental problems too. If you see any suspicious spots on your baby’s teeth, particularly if the teeth came in early or the baby has been taking a bottle to bed, don’t wait. Bring the baby in anytime you suspect a problem.
Pacifiers and thumb sucking
There is not much we can do about thumb sucking before three years old that is both effective and kind. So we suggest just a low key effort to minimize the time spent sucking. Since the pacifier is not attached to the child, we can exert a little more control. After infancy, use the pacifier only for sleep and real distress. Don’t automatically bring it to the store, to church, to the doctor. When the child can communicate, don’t volunteer the pacifier at night until the child asks for it.
Accidents and injuries
If the tooth is still in the same position and is firm, it is usually OK, even if there is a small amount of blood around the gum line, or a small chip in the biting edge. The types of accidents most likely to cause tooth loss are those in which the tooth is moved, either backward or forward or up into the gum. Call our office about any questions or concerns regarding any trauma to the teeth.