Dental Care For Infants And Children
When should dental care begin?
Most pediatric dentists will agree that regular dental care should begin by one year of age, with a dental check-up at least twice each consecutive year for most children. Some children may need more frequent evaluations and care. In accordance with this recommendation, the following dental checklist for infants and toddlers has been provided by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry:
At our office, we see children for the first time between the ages of three and a half and four years of age. We encourage parents to take an active role in their children's oral health by assisting with brushing and flossing as well as monitoring for any dark spots on their children's teeth. We want to build a positive relationship with your children, and it is much easier to do that if the first dental cleaning and exam occur before any problems develop.
Birth to 6 months of age:
Clean the infant's mouth with gauze after feedings and at bedtime. Consult your child's pediatrician regarding fluoride supplements. Regulate feeding habits (bottle feeding and breastfeeding).
Six to 12 months of age:
During this time, the first tooth should appear. Consult the Pediatric dentist for an examination. Brush teeth after each feeding and at bedtime with a small, soft-bristled brush. As the child begins to walk, stay alert of potential dental and/or facial injuries. Wean the child from breast or bottle by his/her first birthday.
Twelve to 24 months of age:
Follow the schedule of dental examinations and cleanings, as recommended by your child's pediatric dentist. Generally, dental examinations and cleanings are recommended every 6 months for children and adults.
As your child learns to rinse his/her mouth, and as most deciduous (baby) teeth have erupted by this age, brushing with a pea-sized portion of fluoridated toothpaste becomes appropriate.
Facts about deciduous teeth:
Proper care of a child's deciduous teeth (also known as "baby" or primary teeth) is very important as these teeth hold space for the future eruption of permanent teeth.
If a baby tooth decays or is removed too early, the space necessary for the permanent teeth is lost and can only be regained through orthodontic treatment.
Infected baby teeth can cause the permanent teeth to develop improperly resulting in stains, pits, and weaker teeth.
Most children begin losing their baby teeth around the age of 5 - usually the front bottom teeth first. They continue to lose baby teeth until the age of 12 or 13 when all of the permanent teeth finally come through.
Thumb-Sucking and Dental Health
Thumb-sucking can cause an open bite or severe malocclusion and even affect the facial profile. It should be discouraged if at all possible. It is better to encourage an infant who needs sucking to use an orthodontic pacifier which can be taken away when it is older than to allow it to suck its thumb, which cannot be taken away.
Diet and dental care for children:
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends the following to ensure your child eats correctly to maintain a healthy body and teeth: Ask your pediatric dentist to help you assess your child's diet. Shop smart. Do not routinely stock your pantry with sugary or starchy snacks. Buy "fun foods" just for special times. Limit the number of snack times; choose nutritious snacks. Provide a balanced diet, and save foods with sugar or starch for mealtimes. Do not put your young child to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, or juice. If your child chews gum or sips soda, choose those without sugar.