Dental Care for your Baby2017-01-05T13:38:30+00:00

DENTAL CARE FOR YOUR INFANT

iStock_000008498678_SmallCongratulations on the arrival of your baby! Are you prepared for the arrival of your baby’s first tooth? Follow these guidelines and your baby will be on her way to a lifetime of healthy smiles!

Caring for Gums

Even before your baby’s first tooth appears (or, in dental jargon, “erupts”), her gums can benefit from your careful attention. After breast- or bottle-feeding, wrap one finger with a clean, damp washcloth or piece of gauze and gently rub it across your baby’s gum tissue. This practice both clears your little one’s mouth of any fragments of food and begins the process of building a good habit of daily oral care.

Baby’s First Tooth

When that first tooth makes an entrance, it’s time to upgrade to a baby toothbrush. There are usually two options: a long-handled toothbrush that you and your baby can hold at the same time, and a finger-puppet-like brush that fits over the tip of your pointer finger. In each case the bristles are soft and few. At this stage, toothpaste isn’t necessary; just dip the brush in water before brushing. If your little one doesn’t react well to the introduction of a toothbrush, don’t give up; switch back to a damp washcloth for a few months, then try the toothbrush again. During the teething process your child will want to chew on just about anythinga baby toothbrush with a teether can become a favorite toy during this period.

Brushing with Toothpastetod

When a few more teeth appear, you can start using toothpaste with your child’s brush. However, for the first two years be sure to choose toothpaste that does not contain fluoride, unless advised to do so by your dentist.  This is because too much fluoride can be dangerous for youngsters. At this stage, use only a tiny amount of toothpaste. From the beginning, have your little one practice spitting the toothpaste out after brushing, to prepare her for fluoride toothpaste, which should not be swallowed at any age.

Avoiding Cavities

Don’t give your baby any sort of sweetened liquids such as flavored drinks or soda. Even the sugars present in fruit juice, formula, and milk (this goes for breast milk as well) can cause decay, so regular tooth and gum cleaning is vital. Also, make sure your baby never goes to bed with a bottle.  Sugary liquids in prolonged contact with her teeth are a guarantee for early childhood decay, also called baby bottle cavities.

First Visit to the Dentist

It’s recommended that you bring your baby in for a visit within six months of the first tooth’s eruption — usually around their first birthday. Since decay can occur in even the smallest of teeth, the earlier your baby visits us, the more likely he or she is to avoid problems. We’ll look for any signs of early problems with your baby’s oral heath, and check in with you about the best way to care for their teeth. Remember that preparing for each dental visit with a positive attitude goes a long way toward making your child comfortable with regular check-ups.

Setting a Good Example

As part of the natural learning process, little ones are expert mimics, and you can take advantage of this talent. Brush and floss daily while your child is watching, and they will intuit at an early age the importance of your good habits. As soon as they show interest, give them a toothbrush of their own and encourage them to “brush” with you. (You’ll find toothbrushes with chunky, short handles that are easy for them to grip.) Most children don’t have the dexterity necessary to thoroughly clean their own teeth until they’re about six or seven, so you’ll have to do that part of the job for her. Try different tactics to make brushing fun: flavored toothpaste, a toothbrush with a favorite character on it, singing songs about brushing. The primary goal is to instill healthy oral habits at an early age to set your child up for a lifetime of healthy, cavity-free teeth!

Thumb-sucking

According to the American Dental Association, most children stop thumb-sucking on their own between the ages of two and four. They simply grow out of a habit that is no longer useful to them. However, some children continue sucking beyond the preschool years (although studies show that the older a child gets, the lower his chances of continuing to suck his thumb). If your child is still sucking when his permanent teeth start to erupt, it may be time to take action to break the habit.

How Can I Help My Child Quit Thumb-Sucking?thumbsucking

Should you need to help your child end his habit, follow these guidelines:

  1. Always be supportive and positive. Instead of punishing your child for thumb-sucking, give praise when he doesn’t suck.
  2. Put a band-aid on his thumb or a sock over his hand at night. Let him know that this is not a punishment, just a way to help him remember to avoid sucking.
  3. Start a progress chart and let him put a sticker up every day that he doesn’t suck his thumb. If he makes it through a week without sucking, he gets to choose a prize (trip to the zoo, new set of blocks, etc.) When he has filled up a whole month reward him with something great (a ball glove or new video game); by then the habit should be over. Making your child an active participant in his treatment will increase his willingness to break the habit.
  4. If you notice your child sucking when he’s anxious, work on alleviating his anxiety rather than focusing on the thumb-sucking.
  5. Take note of the times your child tends to suck (long car rides, while watching movies) and create diversions during these occasions.
  6. Explain clearly what might happen to his teeth if he keeps sucking his thumb.

Whatever your method, always remember that your child needs your support and understanding during the process of breaking the thumb-sucking habit.

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