Caring for your infant’s teeth begins long before you ever walk through the doors of our pediatric dental office. Your child’s teeth actually begin to form while the child is still in the womb. For this reason, it is crucial that the mother maintain a healthy diet full of the vitamins and minerals that are needed to form healthy baby teeth.
In addition, any cavities or dental disease that are present in the mother can have a negative impact on the child in the womb, and the demands of the child’s development can also take a toll on the mother’s dental health, which is why she should visit her own dentist regularly before, during and after pregnancy.
Once the child has entered the world, there are several critical stages of dental development when your child should see a professional pediatric dentist. At six months of age, the teeth below the surface of the gums will begin to break through, causing teething to begin.
When this process starts, we will have the ability to properly assess the chances of your child experiencing dental problems further along in their development. This initial visit is also likely to include an examination of the mother’s dental history as an indicator of likely problems that might occur. After the first check-up, it is recommended that a visit be scheduled for every six months or at the suggested intervals by Dr. Taylor.
The saliva of an infant is different from that of an adult. If you share utensils with your child, then your saliva can potentially cause tooth and gum disease in the mouth of the infant. The possibility of bacteria in the mouth of an adult can also lead to tooth decay in an infant.
In the same way that you should not eat sugary snacks before bed without brushing, you should avoid giving your infant milk or formulas that contain sugar before putting them down for sleep. The sugars and acids go right to work on degrading the child’s teeth as they sleep. Breastfeeding is the safest activity in terms of feeding your baby before bedtime.
Slowly introduce the activity of brushing by cleaning your child’s teeth with a gauze pad or soft cloth. Once all of the teeth have begun to come in, slowly make the transition to a very soft brush. Also, do not use a toothpaste containing fluoride until after age 3, and ensure that you teach them not to swallow the toothpaste.
Once your child’s teeth begin to touch one another, it is acceptable to begin flossing. Many of the small plastic devices designed for flossing a child’s teeth can be extremely helpful in this task. The techniques for flossing a small child’s teeth can be discussed with Dr. Taylor during a regular visit to our dental office.
As you assist in brushing your child’s teeth and help them in making the transition to doing the job on their own around age 3, check on how good a job they and you are doing by using disclosing tablets. These chewable tabs will turn any plaque that remains on the tooth a bright color so that you can visibly see where there needs to be more attention-focused.