Early Care is the Best Care
Starting at birth, every baby needs a 'medical home' for regular doctor visits to ensure they stay healthy and get their vaccinations on time. Many parents don't realize that babies also need a 'dental home' after their baby's first birthday — or even sooner if there is a problem. Seeing a dentist early helps ensure that your baby doesn't get early childhood tooth decay. This disease is much easier to prevent than it is to treat.
The American Academies of Pediatrics, Pediatric Dentistry, and the American Dental Association (ADA) recommend and encourage that every child be established in a dental home by the age of one.
Early Childhood Tooth Decay
Do you know that tooth decay is the most common childhood disease? 40% of American children have cavities by the age of six. Children under five may have to be heavily sedated or even have general anesthesia to get their teeth fixed. These cavities can be painful, and — worst of all — if children get cavities in their baby teeth, the infection may pass to their permanent teeth.
You can help your baby avoid this disease. Look closely and often at your baby's teeth. The first sign of a cavity is a white spot. These spots often start on the upper front teeth at the gum line. To check for these spots, lay your baby in your lap and lift the upper lip using your fingers. This is also a good way to clean the baby teeth.
Brown spots may indicate a more advanced infection. If you think you see white or brown spots, you should make an appointment. If you catch the cavity early, the dentist may be able to apply concentrated fluoride to the tooth and stop the infection before it spreads. If you don't take care of your baby's first teeth, your child may wind up with a lifelong struggle.
The Tooth Brushing Habit
Parents must clean their children's teeth, beginning with the eruption of the first tooth and continuing until your child can tie his or her shoelaces. Of course, the child should be encouraged to brush their teeth themselves as soon as they can hold a toothbrush. However, parents should be there for nighttime brushing. This is critical as the bacteria that cause cavities have 12 hours or more to grow undisturbed as your child sleeps. Make sure this brushing is done as effectively as possible to stop cavity-causing bacteria from moving into your child's mouth as permanent residents.
Several months before they cut their first teeth, babies often begin to show an increase in drooling. Drooling is normal and signals the beginning of a phase of development when babies instinctively bring their hands and other objects to their mouth as part of AN overall sensory experience. When the first teeth cut through, some babies experience restlessness or irritability, as well as increased drooling and a mild loss of appetite. While teething pain relief gels will numb the gums, this is an excellent time to start wiping the gums and cleaning the teeth. You can use a washcloth in the bath or when laying down for bed.
The first permanent molars usually emerge between the ages of five and six. For that reason, they are often called the six-year molars. The six-year molars help determine the shape of the lower face. They also affect the position and health of other adult teeth. These adult teeth are sometimes mistaken for baby teeth. They must be cared for properly if they are to last throughout the child's lifetime.