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Children's dentistry is so much more than just "dentistry for children." It is in early childhood where lifelong habits are learned, such as the recognition of the need for proper oral healthcare. The dentist bears a heavy responsibility for helping to form the child's first impressions of dental care, and consequently forging the attitudes toward dental treatment that will last a lifetime...
Starting early with regular dental care is an important step on the road to total health. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that children begin routine dental visits as early as age one. This way, any problems may be detected early, treated early or even avoided completely.
Q: When should I start cleaning my baby's teeth?
A: This is a good habit to start early! The teeth must be cleaned as they erupt. Use a damp wash cloth or a toothbrush.
Tooth brushing is definitely a parent's job in the preschool years.
Children are usually able to brush their teeth well when they are 8 years old. Be sure to check your child's teeth regularly for any chalky white or brown spots which could be the beginning of tooth decay.
Q: How do my child's teeth develop?
A: Children's teeth begin forming before birth. As early as 4 months, the first primary, or baby teeth erupt. All 20 primary teeth usually appear by age 3. Permanent teeth begin appearing around age 6. This process continues until approximately age 21.
Q: What is your advice on teething?
A: Sore gums from teething often occur for a few days at a time between ages of six months to three years. Babies often get relief from a clean teething ring, cool spoon or cold wet washcloth. Chilled teething rings or rubbing a clean finger on the sore gum area often helps too.
Q: When should I begin bringing my child to the dentist?
A: "First visit by first birthday" is the general rule. Regular dental visits should begin by age one or at the appearance of the first tooth (usually between six and twelve months of age) so that any problems may be detected, treated, or even avoided. Many children already have tooth decay by age one. Early examination and preventive care will protect your child's smile now and in the future.
Q: What dental problems could a baby have?
A: Dental problems can begin early. A big concern is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (BBTD), which is preventable. BBTD can result from long periods of exposing baby teeth to liquids that contain sugar, including formula, milk, breast milk, and juice.
A baby who has a habit of sleeping with a baby bottle filled with any sugary liquid or a breast in their mouth is at risk of getting BBTD. Frequent snacking on sweet or sticky foods can also cause decay.
The earlier the first dental visit, the better chance of preventing dental problems. Children with healthy teeth can chew food well, speak clearly and share precious smiles. Start your child on a lifetime of good dental habits now!
Q: How can I prevent tooth decay from nursing or a bottle?
A: Taking your baby off of the breast when he/she falls asleep can prevent baby tooth decay. Hold your baby while bottle feeding. Always take a bottle filled with milk or juice away from the sleeping child.
If your child requires a bottle at bedtime provide a bottle filled with water. Instead of a bottle try comforting your child with a pacifier or a favorite toy or blanket.
Check with your health care provider to make sure your child is getting the right amount of fluoride. Brush your baby's teeth with a soft toothbrush daily.
Q: When should bottle feeding be stopped?
A: Begin teaching your baby to use a cup by seven months. It's a good idea to introduce juice in a cup. Your baby can be off the bottle by 12 months.
Q: Should I worry about thumb or finger sucking?
A: Thumb sucking is perfectly normal for infants; most stop by the age of two. Prolonged (beyond age 5 or 6 years) thumb sucking can create crowded, crooked teeth or bite problems.