You can start preventing oral disease and promoting good oral health for baby as soon as he or she is born! Most people assume that there is nothing we can do about our newborn’s teeth until they’ve erupted, but this is not true. During the last three months of pregnancy, the 20 primary baby teeth have almost completely formed in the jawbone. And at birth, there can be as many as 12 permanent, adult teeth already developing! Our dentist and our team are committed to helping our patients enjoy outstanding oral health throughout their entire lives, from infancy to adulthood. Contact Sunset Pediatric Dentistry today to find out more about dental care for infants or schedule a consultation with us.
Infant Dental Care
You can begin cleaning a baby’s mouth even before the teeth start coming in to prevent the growth of bacteria in the mouth. This early attention to dental care also begins the formation of healthy habits and routines throughout development. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends cleaning your baby’s mouth using a damp washcloth or piece of gauze wrapped around the index finger. You should gently wipe the gum pads in your child’s mouth at least once per day.
The AAPD also recommends that you first take your child to see a pediatric dentist between 12 and 18 months. At this appointment, our pediatric dentist will perform a comprehensive examination. We will evaluate your child’s dental health and make any necessary recommendations for home care, diet choices, and the use of toothbrushes and pastes. Preventive care begins early and many dental diseases can be staved off or treated more effectively when caught early.
Teething normally occurs between six months to 30 months of age. Typically, small groups of teeth gradually erupt until all 20 have fully developed. Teething can cause children to become irritable, drool excessively, suck on toys, blankets, and fingers, and lose their appetites. While discomfort during teething is normal, teething should not cause a fever, ear tugging, diarrhea, or flu-like symptoms. If your baby is experiencing any of these symptoms, consult your pediatrician.
You can ease some of the discomfort caused by teething in many ways, including:
- Cool teething toys
- Cold water
- Children’s Tylenol
After the Teeth Have Erupted, Remember to…
Brush and floss your child’s teeth anytime he or she eats something sugary, including drinks and candies. The sugars found in milk, formula, juices, and other sweetened liquids can expedite tooth decay. During sleep, we rarely swallow, so it is especially important to minimize bottle use at nighttime. Your child may drink water during sleep without impacting his or her oral health. We recommend avoiding sippy cups whenever possible. While they are great at preventing spills, they can increase your child’s risk for cavities and may cause the front teeth to flare out.
Home Hygiene Recommendations
Birth to 6 Months
- Clean baby’s mouth with gauze or a warm washcloth after feedings and at bedtime.
- Consult your pediatrician about fluoride supplements.
- Regulate feeding habits to ensure a balanced diet and limit sugar consumption.
6 to 12 Months
- Eruption of the first tooth will usually occur during this period.
- Schedule your first appointment with the pediatric dentist for a well-baby exam.
- Begin brushing teeth after each feeding and at bedtime.
- Begin flossing between teeth that touch.
- Baby is walking now! Be alert to dental injuries!
12 to 24 Months
- Begin regular dental visits every six months.
- Hold yourself accountable to a routine of cleanings and exams.
- Most primary teeth have erupted at this age.
- Start using rice-sized portions of toothpaste with fluoride.
- Monitor thumb sucking and pacifier dependence.