Proper Dental Habits
Your child’s baby teeth are at risk for decay as soon as they first appear — which is typically around age 6 months. The good news is that decay is preventable. In summary, here’s what to do:
- During the first few days after birth, clean your baby’s mouth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth. A baby’s front four teeth usually start to show at about 6 months. However, some children don’t have their first tooth until 12 or 14 months.
- When your child’s teeth begin to come in, or “erupt”, make an appointment to visit us. The American Dental Association recommends that the first dental visit take place within six months after the first tooth appears, but no later than a child’s first birthday. Dr. Kristi will examine your child’s mouth and check growth and development.
- “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay” is a dental health problem that affects countless children. It occurs when the baby is put to bed with a bottle or when a bottle is used as a pacifier. See our page discussing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay” for tips to identify and to avoid this problem.
- Sucking on fingers or pacifiers may cause problems with alignment of permanent teeth. More aggressive thumbsuckers may even have problems with their baby teeth. It can also cause changes in the roof of the mouth. For further details, see our page on Pacifiers and Thumbsucking. If you are concerned about your child’s thumbsucking, or if you notice changes in your child’s primary teeth, please call us for consultation.
- Do not put feeding spoons or pacifiers in your mouth and then in the baby’s mouth. Bacteria, naturally present in the mother’s mouth that may potentially cause tooth decay, can pass to the baby from mother’s saliva.
- Begin brushing your children’s teeth as soon as they begin to come in. Until the child is around 3 years old, use a smear of fluoride toothpaste. For children 3 to 6 years of age, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Brush their teeth twice per day, in the morning and at night. Supervise children’s brushing to ensure that they use of the appropriate amount of toothpaste.
- Until you’re comfortable that your child can brush on his or her own, continue to brush your child’s teeth twice a day with a child-size toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
- It’s very important to give the child a balanced diet, with a variety of foods from each of the five major food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, lean sources of proteins and dairy foods. Limit your child’s snacks and minimize snacks that are sugary or heavy with carbohydrates.