Dental problems can begin early – even in infancy. To spot early conditions such as bottle tooth decay, teething irritations, gum disease, and prolonged thumb-sucking, we recommend that you bring your baby to see us by his or her first birthday; this is generally when the first tooth comes in. Early examination and preventive care will protect your child’s smile now and in the future.
Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by exposing your child’s teeth to liquids containing sugars. Culprits include milk, formula, fruit juice, sodas, and other sweet drinks. The sugars in these liquids pool around your baby’s teeth and gums, feeding the bacteria that live in plaque. Pacifiers dipped in honey, sugar or syrup are just invitations to tooth decay in your baby.
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To make the transition of cleaning your babies new tooth/teeth an easier process, begin taking a wet wash cloth and simply rubbing all surfaces clean. When your child has become more familiar with the cleaning process, introduce a soft infant toothbrush and water. Also, avoid using fluoridated toothpaste on your child until he/she reaches the age of two.
After the age of two, begin brushing teeth with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste. Encourage your child to spit out – not swallow – excess toothpaste after brushing. Fluoride in excess can poison your child. If you believe your child has ingested a large amount of fluoride, please call Poison Control immediately for instructions.
When babies are teething, usually between the ages of four months and two and a half years, they often have sore and tender gums. The pain usually can be soothed by gently rubbing the baby’s gums with a clean finger, a small, cool spoon or wet gauze. A clean teething ring for the baby to chew on may also be helpful. If these remedies do not work you can purchase Baby Orajel over-the-counter, but use sparingly. Many times during the teething process children refuse to eat due to their discomfort. Simply rub a small amount of Baby Orajel on the gum tissue minutes before eating and this will allow your child to eat with ease.
Pacifiers and thumb-sucking
In general, we would discourage thumb sucking after the age of four because prolonged thumb sucking can cause teeth to become crowded and crooked and could lead to bite problems. In some cases, the upper front teeth may tip toward the lip or not come in properly.
If your child has a toothache, rinse the irritated area with warm salt water and place a cold compress on the face if it is swollen.
If your child loses a tooth from an injury, remain calm. If you can locate the tooth, hold it by the crown rather than the root and place in a glass of skim milk, not water. Hold a cold compress on the area where the injury occurred to help prevent swelling. Take your child and the glass immediately to the dentist. Injuries to the mouth while the permanent teeth are forming may cause problems for the child in the future.
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