If you are new parent, you may have questions about your child’s oral health. Baby books don’t always cover infant oral health fully, but there are a few things you need to be doing to keep your child’s first teeth healthy.
Do you have a little one who’s approaching the age of his or her first dental visit? Call our office to make an appointment with Dr. Luminita Markham. Maidu Dental is a family dentistry, and our staff loves helping children get through their first appointment without stress or fear. Call us at 530-823-8771 to make an appointment.
When Is the Best Time for the First Dental Visit?
The first dental visit should take place around the time of the child’s third birthday. During this visit, we will take special care to make sure your child feels calm and unpressured. We will explain each step of the visit before we get started, and make sure your child knows he or she is safe and his/her wishes are being respected.
During the first visit, we hope to accomplish a basic examination of the teeth to check for normal eruption and alignment. We will also check to make sure there are no early signs of decay. We perform a gentle teeth cleaning, when possible, to remove any hardened plaque (tartar) and prevent decay. If appropriate, we can also apply preventive treatments, such as fluoride and sealants, to strengthen teeth against bacteria. We also take the time to talk about oral health with your child, and make sure he or she understands why it’s important to keep the teeth clean and healthy.
Prevention is Better Than Cure
When it comes to children’s dentistry, prevention is always better than cure. For most kids, daily brushing and flossing is adequate to prevent cavities. This can prevent you having to take your child in to have a cavity filled before he is old enough to understand what’s happening, which can be a traumatic experience.
For babies, parents should start brushing as soon as the first tooth has erupted. Clean the teeth daily with a small piece of sterile gauze or a wet washcloth to remove plaque. As your child gets old enough to hold a toothbrush and watch you brush your own teeth, switch to an age-appropriate oral hygiene tool. Using a non-fluoridated children’s toothpaste can make brushing pleasant for little ones, as there are nice flavors available.
When your child is old enough to understand how to spit out the toothpaste, you can switch to a fluoride-containing toothpaste. However, you should only use a very small amount and continue to monitor your child’s brushing. You want to make sure they don’t start swallowing toothpaste, and keep an eye on their technique. (Fluoride should not be ingested: it is toxic in higher doses, and even smaller amounts can lead to permanent stains in developing adult teeth.) Buying fun kid-friendly oral hygiene tools is a great way to help kids stay excited about oral hygiene—from cartoon character brushes, to fun flavored toothpastes and flavored flossing picks—anything that makes it fun is a win. Some parents choose to buy a timer to keep in the bathroom, since each brushing should last about two minutes.
Can Babies Get Cavities?
Babies and small children get absolutely get cavities before their third birthday. However, it’s not common, unless your child has a health condition that may encourage decay (frequent vomiting, acid reflux) or goes to bed with a bottle of milk. Among children who experience early cavities, baby bottle decay is the number one way this manifests.
When a child nurses or takes a bottle intermittently through the night, the constant presence of milk gives bacteria a food source. This allows mouth bacteria to feast and excrete acids that leach minerals from the teeth, ultimately causing cavities.
It’s always best to finish a feeding all at once before the child falls asleep, so his or her saliva can do its job properly and rinse the teeth of milk residue. When we sleep, our mouths do not produce saliva as abundantly as when we are awake. This makes teeth more vulnerable, since saliva can neutralize the acids that cause cavities.
If your small child likes to fall asleep with a bottle, you can prevent baby bottle decay by switching him over to a bottle of water at bedtime, instead of milk. If you suspect your child may have signs of early decay, visit a family dentistry right away. Don’t wait until the third birthday, as cavities can worsen and spread extremely quickly in baby teeth, and serious decay can lead to premature loss of baby teeth.
Visit Maidu Dental to learn More About Children’s and Family Dentistry
We love to help families learn the best ways to keep their children’s teeth healthy, and we love to meet young patients! Call our Auburn dentist office to make an appointment for your little one, and you’ll see what makes Maidu Dental a great place for families. Call us at 530-823-8771 to make an appointment.