Infant Oral Care and Dental Basics

Infant Oral Care & Dental Care Basics

When to schedule your child’s first visit
A baby’s first visit to the dentist should happen at one year of age or 6 months after their first tooth appears. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that all children should establish a dental home. At your baby’s first visit, your dentist will focus on growth, development and cavity prevention. Establishing a good relationship between your baby and your dentist at an early age will assist in creating a positive outlook for a lifetime of great dental care.

What to expect at your child’s first dental visit
At your child’s first dental visit, we will not only look into your child’s mouth, but we will assess your home care routine. We will work with you to develop a plan that works with your schedule and will help to prevent decay.

Review Child’s Health History & Oral Exam
During the first visit you will be invited back with your infant. Together we will review your child’s health history and will discuss your main concerns about their teeth. The hygienist will work with you on topics such as: home care, tooth brushing, diet and feeding habits, and oral habits. They will discuss things such as pacifiers or thumb sucking, and will answer any questions you may have. The doctor will then perform a thorough exam and count all the teeth. The exam includes your child’s head, neck, teeth, and intra-oral soft tissue. The occlusion, or the way that the teeth are aligned and function together, will also be evaluated.

Radiographs (X-Rays)
Radiographs or x-rays are valuable aids in the oral health care of infants, children, adolescents, and individuals with special health care needs. They are used to diagnose and monitor oral diseases, survey erupting teeth, evaluate trauma, as well as monitor development and the progress of therapy. The timing of the initial radiographic examination should not be based upon the patient’s age, but upon each child’s individual circumstances. Because each patient is unique, the need for dental radiographs can be determined only after reviewing the patient’s medical and dental histories, completing a clinical examination, and assessing the patient’s vulnerability to environmental factors that affect oral health. At our office, we make every effort to minimize the patient’s exposure to radiation. We use a lead apron, thyroid collars, and high-speed film; beam collimation which all are important radiological practices to minimize your child’s risk. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that children and adolescents get bitewing X-rays every six to 12 months if they have cavities. Those who don't have cavities can go a year or two between scans.

Discuss treatment and schedule check-ups
If your child has any issues or signs of decay, the doctor will talk with you about your treatment options. In some cases the doctors may ask you to come in more frequently for exams and evaluations if they believe the child is at risk of developing cavities.

A parent’s role in the first visit
As a parent, your role in the first visit is crucial. Children are very keen on our moods and feelings. They are able to sense when you are nervous for them or display any anxiety. You can help by using positive language around your child when speaking of the dentist. You can also role play with him or her and count their teeth at home. There are several children’s books and videos available to help familiarize them with what to expect at their first appointment. The first visit is exciting and can be lots of fun for everyone. Your positive outlook will assist them in creating a positive outlook for a lifetime of great dental care.

Establishing a relationship with the child
During future appointments, once the child is age appropriate, we respectfully request that parents remain in the reception room while we care for your child. We have learned that we can establish a direct and close relationship more quickly with your child when you remain in the reception area. Our goal is to gain your child’s confidence and help him or her to overcome any apprehension. At age three we begin cleaning your child’s teeth and placing fluoride. The fluoride treatment will help in cavity prevention. We will finish with the doctor counting your child’s teeth while giving them a thorough exam.

Friendly, fun environment
Our staff is trained for working with children. We give each child individual attention and praise to create a friendly, fun environment. Many children love coming to our office for a chance to see our staff, “their friends,” and play games. Our office is equipped with several televisions throughout the treatment areas with child-friendly movies playing. We also have toys and stuffed animals to make your child feel right at home.

Infant Oral Care (NEW)
Are Primary or “baby” teeth really that important?
Primary or “baby” teeth as they are commonly called are needed for more than a beautiful smile. They are used for not only chewing food, but they are important in speech development. They also aid in developing a path for the permanent teeth to follow when they begin to erupt.

Eruption of your child’s teeth
A baby’s teeth start to come in when the baby is about six to ten months of age. The first primary (or baby) teeth erupt through the gums are the lower, front teeth, followed closely by the upper front teeth. The upper front teeth begin to appear about eight to twelve months of age. The last tooth to erupt is usually the upper second molars which usually appear between the ages of 25 to 33 months of age. By age of three, most children have a full set of 20 primary (baby) teeth, 10 on the top and 10 on the bottom. The chart gives the names of the baby teeth. It also shows when each tooth usually comes in and falls out. However, not all children get the same teeth at the same time. (INSERT Eruption Chart)

Oral care & brushing techniques
Starting at birth, the infant’s mouth needs to be cleaned. Start with a soft cloth or a soft infant tooth brush and water. Begin cleaning your baby’s gums twice daily. Once in the morning and at bedtime or before the last feeding. There are several fluoride-free infant toothpastes available on the market and you will need to use a “smear” of the toothpaste. Discuss with your pediatric dentist about the differences between fluoride and fluoride-free toothpastes and their recommendations. As the first tooth begins to erupt you can introduce fluoride free toothpaste and a wet toothbrush to your child. Begin brushing two times a day as soon as you see the first tooth appear. Once your child is two years old, you can begin to use a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste on the appropriate sized toothbrush. Always have the child spit out any excess toothpaste. We recommend parents assist with nighttime brushing until age 8.

Dental Care Basics

Routine Care
Children need regular check-ups and professional cleanings just like their parents do, and generally on the same six-month schedule. This basic level of care helps to maintain your child’s good oral health, and semiannual visits allow our dentists to spot any signs of trouble when oral diseases like decay and gum disease are in their earliest, most treatable stages.

Diet and your child’s teeth
What and how often we eat can affect our teeth. Bacteria in our mouth, on our teeth, use the sugar in foods and drinks to make acid that attacks the teeth. Each time we eat or drink, that acid can attack the teeth for 20 minutes or longer. A good diet for your child is an important part of preventing tooth decay.

Here are some tips to assist you:

o Try to limit between-meal snacks for your child. Snacking often means more acid attacks and a higher risk for tooth decay.

o Avoid giving your child juice until they are 6 months old. At this point limit the amount of juice to no more than 4-6 ounces per day.

o Avoid giving your child sticky, sugary snacks. Introduce them to healthy snacks at a young age, such as cheese, yogurt, and fruit as an alternative to candy, soda, sport drinks, or juice.

o Create a bedtime routine which begins with brushing and flossing nightly. Do not put your child to bed with juice or milk, only water.

o Avoid sippy cups filled with juice or soda. Giving your child water only between meals will greatly decrease their chances of developing cavities.

o See your pediatric dentist by age one to establish a healthy diet and habits to prevent decay.

Flouride treatments
Fluoride treatments help to strengthen the teeth, and they are especially important for children with developing teeth. These treatments may be recommended for children with inadequate access to fluoride in their environments and/or those with unusually soft teeth.