Dental Care For Your Baby
Q. When should my child see a dentist for the first time?
A. Your child should visit a pediatric dentist when the first tooth comes in, usually between 6 and 12 months of age.
Q. Why so early? What dental problems can a baby have?
A. The most important reason is to begin a thorough prevention program. Dental problems can begin early. A big concern is Early Childhood Cares, also known as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing caries. Your child runs the risk of severe decay from using a bottle during naps, at night, or when they are nursed continuously. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems. Children with healthy teeth chew food easily, learn to speak clearly, and smile with confidence.
Q. How can I prevent tooth decay from a bottle or nursing?
A. Encourage your child to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday. Children should not fall asleep with a bottle. At-will nighttime breast-feeding should be avoided after the first baby tooth begins to erupt. Avoid drinking juice from a bottle. When juice is offered, it should be in a cup.
Q. When should bottle-feeding be stopped?
A. Children are encouraged to wean the bottle or breastfeeding at 12-14 months of age.
Q. Should I worry about thumb and finger sucking?
A. Thumb sucking is normal for infants. Prolonged thumb sucking after 2 years old may increase the risk of crowded, crooked teeth or other bite problems. Your pediatric dentist will be glad to suggest ways to address a prolonged thumb-sucking habit.
Q. When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?
A. Starting at birth, clean your baby’s gums using gauze and water. Use a toothbrush with water or fluoride-free toothpaste to clean teeth as soon they emerge from gum. If you use fluoride toothpaste for your baby, please use only a smear of toothpaste each day.
Q. Any advice on teething?
A. From six months to age 3, your child may experience sore gums when teeth erupt. An iced teething ring or a cold wet washcloth may help, or simply rub the baby’s gum with a clean finger.
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