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Keeping Your Baby’s Teeth Healthy And Happy – The Importance Of Pediatric Dental Care

#babyteethhealth

Written by prositesdentalDec 31 • 5 minute read

Happy family smiling and showing their teeth

Taking care of your babies dental health begins in the womb. This may seem counter intuitive, but the American Academy of pediatric dentistry officially advises all pregnant women to receive oral health care and consultations during their pregnancy. Studies have indicated that periodontal diseases such as gingivitis can increase the risk of premature birth and low birth weight. For this reason, a mom’s dental health can be just as important as a baby’s dental health, and it is important to take care of your mouth and teeth during pregnancy.

Further, moms with poor mouth health can be at a larger risk of transferring the bacteria that causes cavities and gum disease to their small children.

Here Some Tips for Moms That Can Help to Improve Dental Health, Both for Themselves and for Their Kids:

  • Avoid sharing eating utensils, drinking cups, or food, as this can allow bacteria to spread from person to person
  • Brush twice a day and floss at least once a day to maintain good oral health
  • Use a good mouthwash to cut down on bacteria in the mouth each day
  • Use a sugar free chewing gum, such as one with the xylitol to help clean the teeth, increase saliva production, and cut down on bacterial growth
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste to help prevent cavities from forming
  • Eat a healthy diet, with fewer sweetened beverages and less sugar and sweetened snacks
  • Keep up with your regular dental cleanings and checkups, to ensure any potential dental problems recognized and treated before they get worse

Establish a Healthy “Home Dentist” Relationship Early On.

The American Dental Association, American Academy of pediatric dentistry, and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend establishing a home dentist for your child some time during their first year. This is because children who have a home dentist are at a lower risk of developing dental problems later on, due to the presence of preventative pediatric dental care.

Try to make your child’s first visit to the dentist a positive and enjoyable experience. If your child is able to understand what is going on, try explaining to them the benefits of visiting the dentist so they understand that this is good for them and that their teeth will be happier as a result. At the same time, try not to make too big of a deal of the dental appointment. This reduces the chances of your child developing dental anxiety and a fear of dentists later on.

Be careful about the words you use when talking about the dentist, and try avoid words like “scary,” “needle,” “drill,” “pain,” “hurt,” or other words that your child will associate with negative emotions. It’s important to create positive memories and associations early on in your child’s life.

Pediatric dental offices treat a lot of small children and infants, and understand how important a good first impression is for young children. They focus on positive words and establishing trusting relationships with their young patients. Your dentist should be a partner in establishing your child’s dental health habits, and work with you to ensure you can do the same at home.

When Can I Expect My Baby to Start Teething?

Each baby will begin to grow teeth at a different stage, as teething varies from baby to baby. This is perfectly normal. Some babies are very late teethers, and others are very early. You can usually expect the front teeth to appear first at some point between the ages of 6 to 8 months.

Infant Cavities And How To Prevent Them

The possible dangers of a bottle of milk at bedtime:

Something you will definitely want to watch out for with your baby is the risk of cavities caused by drinking sweetened liquids. While of course it is true that things like fruit juice and other sweetened drinks can cause cavities, believe it or not, even milk (including breast milk) contains enough sugar to allow the development of bacteria and cavities in your baby’s mouth.

For this reason, the best liquid to put your baby to sleep with is actually a bottle of water, rather than milk or some other sweetened drink. This is because when the baby goes to sleep drinking a bottle of milk, the milk pools around the babies teeth, creating a film for bacteria to feed on. These bacteria in turn produce acid which eats into the enamel of the babies teeth causing cavities to form.

How To Wean Your Baby From Milk To Water At Bedtime

It is very possible that your baby won’t just accept water at bedtime, but don’t worry. This is perfectly normal. One tip that has worked for many people is to very gradually begin to dilute the baby’s milk or formula with water, using more and more water each night until the entire bottle is simply filled with water. In this way it is possible to very gradually wean your baby from milk to water at bedtime with minimum struggle. We all know babies don’t like change!

How To Clean Your Baby’s Teeth At Home

Obviously a baby isn’t going to brush their own teeth, and brushing baby teeth could prove difficult. One recommended method is to use a damp washcloth or pad of gauze to carefully remove plaque from the baby’s gums and teeth after feeding. This is usually done by sitting down with the baby’s head in your lap or with the baby on a changing table, or on the floor lying on a blanket. Make sure that you are able to clearly see into your baby’s mouth in order to remove all of the plaque.

What About Sippy Cups?

After your baby is weaned off of bottles, it is likely they will use a sippy cup for a while, until they are Weems to drink from normal cups. Keep in mind that a sippy cup is only a temporary training tool, and should not be seen as a long-term solution. It is generally recommended that a sippy cup be discontinued by the time your child reaches their first birthday. The main issue with sippy cups is actually the liquids contained in them. Many parents like to fill their child’s sippy cup with liquids that are high in sugar content, such as fruit juice, sports drinks, milk, etc.

Be Careful About Giving Your Child Sweetened Drinks to Sip on Throughout the Day.

If you give your child sugary liquids throughout the day, you’re allowing their teeth to be constantly coated in a sticky, syrupy substance, which provides a rich breeding ground for the bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. Instead, take the time to transition your child to drink water as often as possible. Milk and juice should be offered as an occasional treat given in small amounts in order to reduce the amount of sugar that remains in their mouth.

Overall, good dental health is essential at any age. By paying close attention to your child’s oral health and setting a good example with your own dental care, you’ll ensure you and your baby can share healthy smiles and laughs for years to come.

Do you have any tips of your own to share that could help other new parents with young children? Please share your helpful hints in the comments below!

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