Oral Health Care for Infants and Toddlers
Many parents will attest that there is no greater joy than holding that new baby in your arms for the first time. After that, come many wonderful milestones as well as a fair number of worries along the way.
But you shouldn’t have to worry about quality dental care for your baby. With a few simple at-home procedures as well as regularly scheduled visits to the dentist, you can ensure that your child will enjoy a lifetime of excellent oral health.
Oral Health Care Tips
It all begins long before the first tooth even arrives. It is important to clean your infant’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush, cotton gauze, or cloth and cool water. Most infants will begin to get teeth around six to 12 months but it does vary from child to child.
Additionally, if your child goes to bed with a bottle, be sure that it does not contain any sugary liquids, such as formula, breast milk, juice, or other sugary drinks. Only water should be given in the bottle that a child goes to bed with, and be sure to clean or brush your baby’s gums and/or teeth twice a day to remove food and plaque.
Children are not born with the bacteria that causes tooth decay. Rather they are exposed to it through their caregivers. But there is a great deal that parents can do to reduce the chances of early tooth decay.
Many babies are soothed by a teething ring, cool spoon, or cold, wet washcloth. A parent might also rub the infant’s gums with a clean finger.
For infants under three years of age, brush the new teeth with a smear or rice grain size of fluoridated toothpaste twice a day.
Beginning at 3 years of age, a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste should be used during brushing.
Children should be encouraged to spit, not swallow, toothpaste, and the amount of toothpaste used can be increased after six years of age when the child can reliably do this.
Fluoride supplement can be used as part of the anti-cavity measure, especially for children with high risk for tooth decays. It is only prescribed after a thorough discussion with our doctors.
Some communities have naturally fluoridated water or have fluoride added to their drinking water. Children living in these communities should not receive additional supplementation.
A sealant is a clear, plastic material that is placed on the chewing surfaces of your child’s back teeth. The sealant forms a coating to protect the tooth from bacteria and bits of food.
Sealants can dramatically reduce the risk of decay for children and teens. Dr. Ann will evaluate your child’s teeth as they erupt and recommend sealants as needed.