ORAL HEALTH - INFANTS
"Oral health is an important part of overall health, and good oral health starts with baby teeth. If your baby's mouth isn't healthy, then your baby is not going to be healthy."
Dr. Russell Maier
Family physician, University of Washington professor, and Washington Dental Service Foundation Board Member
It is very important to start right at infancy developing the healthy oral habits in that will help prevent tooth decay. Some people feel that the baby has what is called “baby teeth”. The child is going to lose those teeth anyway so therefore they are not that important.
BEFORE YOUR INFANT CUTS TEETH
After each feeding, clean the infant’s gums. As you hold your infant use a wet washcloth and gently message the infant’s gums.
Never put your infant down to sleep with a propped bottle.
WHEN YOU INFANT BEGINS TO CUT TEETH
During the ages of 4 to 6 months infants usually begin teething. You may notice your infant may have red and swollen gums and begin to have excess drooling. There are somethings you can do to help ease the discomfort your infant may be experiencing. A chilled teething ring or a cold washcloth to chew on may be soothing to the baby.
Tooth decay is caused by bacteria and germs in our mouths. These germs can be passed from parent’s mouths to the infant. These germs cause acids that cause cavities. Therefore, you would not want to test the temperature of a baby’s bottle, clean your babies bottle nipple, or pacifier by putting it in your mouth.
REASONS TO CARE FOR YOUR INFANT’S TEETH RIGHT FROM INFANCY:
You will be helping you child develop important oral health habits that will protect his teeth into adulthood
Your baby’s teeth with help to shape the baby’s face and guide adult teeth into place.
Allow your child to chew and eat properly
Help your child to speak clearly
Healthy baby teeth help ensure healthy adult permanent teeth
Healthy teeth promote overall physical health of your baby
GETTING THEIR FIRST TOOTH
Babies will usually get their first tooth around six to eight months old. You can begin to care for their teeth right away and establish good oral habits to help reduce and prevent tooth decay.
Continue to message the baby’s gums and add the use of a soft toothbrush with no toothpaste to clean the baby’s new tooth. As the baby get closer to a year old you can add toothpast the size of a grain of rice.
Giving the baby a chilled teething ring or washcloth to chew on will help to sooth the discomfort of cutting new teeth.
As you baby begins to start eating solid food, limit the amount of sugar and sweeten drinks you give your baby. There are many foods and drinks that feed the germs that cause tooth decay. Do not use a bottle of sweeten juice as a pacifier during the day and never put your baby to sleep with a bottle of formula or other sweeten drink. The sugar in these drinks can cause the teeth to decay. If you do give your baby a bottle at naptime or bedtime, give them a bottle of water.
FLUORIDE SUPPLEMENTS AND TREATMENTS:This is a good time to ask your pediatrician about fluoride. Fluoride can help prevent tooth decay. You should find out if your water is fluoridated and if not, your pediatrician may prescribe fluoride supplements.
· Fluoride drops or tablets – if your water does not contain fluoride
· Fluoride varnish – painted on the smooth surfaces of teeth to heal early decay
· Sealants – liquid plastic painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a baby should have their first dental exam within six months after the baby gets their first tooth or by their first birthday.
You can help detect early tooth decay by checking your baby’s teeth often. Look for white spots on the teeth or for changes in the gums. White or brown spots can be signs of early tooth decay.