As dentists we can only do so much. Healthy smiles and positive dental experiences are a responsibility shared with parents and pediatricians.
Prevention and education are key. Parents should know how to take care of their children’s teeth and how to manage hygiene at home. We have a lot of great tips available on our website, but we can also dig a bit deeper.
There’s a lot to know about teeth.
As pediatric dentists we’re passionate about sharing what we know with doctors, pediatricians, and parents.Here are a few things to think about.
Primary teeth begin to develop four weeks in utero and secondary teeth begin to form from birth to age eight. Together, this makes nutrition an important consideration from the time a woman knows she wants to conceive until the time of delivery and after she is breast feeding.
“Brushing” should begin almost immediately. Start with a warm wash cloth (water only) on the gums, then move to brushes as teeth begin to erupt.
Bottle caries or bottle rot is a common problem caused by improper breastfeeding and bottle use, in particular, putting a child to bed with a bottle.
A child’s first dental visit should be no more than 6 months after the first tooth comes in, or age one at the latest. First visits often include a review of the patient’s medical history, an examination with possible xrays, prophylaxis and fluoride if age appropriate, and oral hygiene instructions.
Fluoride has pros and cons. As pediatric dentists, we recognize the benefits of topical applications and that it should not be swallowed. At the same time, we ultimately feel that fluoride is a parent’s decision. If parents elect to use fluoridated toothpaste, it should not be until a child is old enough to spit, and only a smear should be used.
Parents play a critical role in their child’s dental health, not simply through hygiene and nutrition, but through their own dental health. A child’s initial exposure to bacteria often comes from the parents and caregivers. If their mouth is unhealthy, their child’s mouth is more likely to be unhealthy.
Prevention at any age is key. Abscesses and infections in their baby teeth and oral cavity can cause damage to permanent teeth. In severe cases, these infections can be life threatening.
Proper care at home means less invasive and more positive experiences at the dentist’s office.