Even before the very first tooth has erupted, it is important to think about providing proper dental care for infants and toddlers. Many parents and caregivers are unsure as to how the care should be provided, or even what type of care is necessary. Just as you can turn to your pediatrician for guidance and advice about your child’s medical needs, you can also trust your to keep you informed regarding your child’s dental health.
In the very earliest stages of infancy, gently wiping the gums with a soft cloth is an important part of daily dental hygiene. It is not uncommon for an infant to be born with a small tooth, called a neonatal tooth. These teeth can also be gently wiped clean each day.
As infants begin to grow, keep a watchful eye on thumb-sucking. Even before the teeth have fully erupted, thumb-sucking can a negative effect on the shape and size of the palate. At this early age, your pediatric dentist can evaluate the size and shape of your child’s palate, upper jaw, and lower jaw. This type of early examination is useful for identifying developmental abnormalities or orthodontic concerns.
At home, as soon as the baby teeth are in the mouth, controlling plaque and preventing cavities becomes a high priority. A soft-bristled child’s toothbrush and training toothpaste are an effective method of introducing proper brushing after meals and snacks. To establish a habit of good oral hygiene, allow your child to participate in this daily routine, as well as observe other family members perform normal brushing and flossing.
Babies and toddlers should never be permitted to sleep with bottles containing any beverages other than water. Even milk, baby formula, and fruit juices contain natural sugars that can lead to decay. In addition to drinks that can cause tooth decay, many snack foods can cause cavities. Rather than choosing snacks high in sugars and carbohydrates, offer babies and toddlers a wide variety of fruits and vegetables whenever possible.
Even with diligent home care and healthy diets, unexpected dental conditions can arise. Introduce your child to the dental office as early as possible, and contact our office with questions and concerns as soon as possible.