Tips for Parents

Mother and daugther embracing on bedWe always want the best for our children. Below are some links to various topics that relate directly to the oral heath care of children. As always, please ask us if you have any specific questions about the care of your children’s teeth.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

toddler-with-bottleBaby Bottle Tooth Decay, Baby Bottle Syndrome, and Nursing Bottle Mouth are all terms used to describe a dental condition which involves the rapid decay of many or all of the baby teeth of an infant or child.

The teeth most likely to be damaged are the upper front teeth. They are some of the first teeth to erupt and thus have the longest exposure to sugars from bottle feeding. The lower front teeth tend to be protected by the tongue as the child sucks on the nipple of the bottle or the breast.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is caused by frequent exposure to liquid containing sugars for extended periods of time.

When your baby falls asleep with a bottle containing formula, milk or juice; a pacifier dipped in honey; or while breast feeding, liquids pool around the front teeth. During sleep, the bacteria present in all babies’ mouths turns the milk sugar or other sugars to acids which cause decay.

Parents may not know there is a problem until serious damage has been done. Oral checks should be performed by parents to detect early signs of decay such as brown spots along the gumline; a preference for soft foods; frowning or crying when eating cold, sweet, or hard foods. If these symptoms are present, the child should be seen by a dentist to check for tooth decay.

By the time decay is noticed, crowns, pulp therapy, or even extraction of the decayed teeth may be necessary.

As a result, your child may suffer from long term disorders which include speech impediments, possible psychological damage, crooked or crowded teeth, and poor oral health. You can prevent this from happening to your child’s teeth by learning how to protect them.

toddler_brushing_teethClean your child’s teeth daily.
Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle filled with juice, milk, or formula (or when awake, sip on it for long periods of time as a pacifier).
Start bottle weaning by at least a year.
Give your child plain water for thirst.
Make sure your child gets the fluoride needed to prevent decay.
Schedule regular dental visits for your child beginning when their first tooth erupts.

TIP: Cut back on sugary bottles by gradually watering them down until they are only water. Most children begin life with strong, healthy teeth. Help your child’s teeth stay that way. Your newborn is totally dependent upon you as a parent. The decisions you make will have a vital effect on your child’s dental future.

Baby’s First Teeth

Happy baby on backUsually, the first baby teeth to erupt are the two bottom front teeth. They begin to appear when your child is about 6 to 8 months old. They are followed by the 4 upper front teeth. The remainder of your baby’s teeth will appear periodically, usually in pairs on each side of the jaw, until the child is about 2 1/2 years old. By the time your child is 2 1/2 years old, all 20 baby teeth will most likely have come in. From this point until the child is 5 to 6 years of age, his/her first permanent teeth will begin to erupt. Some of the permanent teeth replace baby teeth, others don’t. The following picture shows the approximate age when each baby tooth should erupt. Do not worry if some teeth are a few months early or late as every child is different…just as every adult is different!

Even though baby teeth will eventually be lost, they are just as important as the adult teeth. They not only hold the space for incoming permanent teeth, but are also important for biting and chewing food, speech, and physical appearance. Early tooth loss due to dental decay can have a serious impact on your child’s self-esteem and self-confidence.

For this reason, it is important to teach your child the importance of eating a healthy diet and practicing daily oral hygiene to maintain healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime of smiles.

First Dental Visit for Your Child

firstdentalvisitYour child’s first visit to our dental office should be around his/her first birthday, but could be as early as you’d like (as soon as the first tooth erupts or even sooner). Here are some Dos and Don’ts.

Do:

Have a tour of our dental office by coming in for a casual, friendly, get acquainted visit and checkup.
Make an appointment for a visual check of your child’s teeth.
Have a discussion with us about oral health care for your child.
Familiarize your child with our dental office. Consider taking them along when you or a sibling has a dental appointment.

Don’t:

Wait for an emergency for the first visit.
Over prepare your children for dental visits.
Use phrases like “It won’t hurt much” or “It won’t be too bad.” Such phrases do not soothe; they only create anxiety.

More information for parents