June 30, 2011

Infant Dental Care: Tips for Caring for Your Infant’s Teeth

Infant dental care is the beginning of a thorough prevention program.

Infant dental care is the beginning of a thorough prevention program.

Many parents may wonder why they should consider pediatric dentistry for their toothless baby. After all, teething doesn’t begin until 6 to 12 months of age. But attention to infant dental care is paramount – even before they arrive – and should begin as soon as possible.

Schedule a dental visit before your infant’s first birthday to begin a thorough prevention program and establish a dental home base where you and your child will feel comfortable. Early Childhood Caries (also known as ECC or baby bottle tooth decay) is very common – affecting the teeth of 40% of pre-kindergarten age children, according to the CDC – and quite preventable. Early risk assessment and guidance via adequate infant dental care can go a long way toward keeping your child’s smile bright and healthy for their entire lives.

So you can get a head start on preparing for the arrival of those baby teeth, here are some pointers:

  • From birth, clean your baby’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water
  • Once baby teeth emerge, use fluoridated toothpaste and an age-appropriate brush twice a day
  • Don’t let your baby fall asleep with a bottle containing anything but water
  • Avoid serving your child juice in a bottle – use a sippy cup, if necessary
  • Thumb-sucking after the age of three can pose bite problems and should be addressed with your dentist

You may be asking, “Why so much care for baby teeth, when they’re just going to fall out eventually?” Here’s why: baby teeth allow your growing child to chew properly, are essential to speech development, and save space in a growing jaw for the upcoming permanent teeth.

A healthy smile is an important part of your child’s development of self-esteem. Caring for that smile as soon as it arrives is your best bet to keep seeing it every day.

What tips do you have for taking care of baby teeth? Share your insights in the Reply section below!

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