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How Can I Care for My Baby's Gums?

After each feeding, breast or bottle, gently wipe your baby's gums with a clean gauze pad.

Watch our videos to find out more:
Caring for infant teeth at home.
Post-Natal cavity risk.

How Do I Care for My Baby During Teething?

The discomfort of teeth coming into the mouth can cause your baby to become irritable. Signs of teething, in addition to fussiness, are drooling and the urge to mouth objects. A temperature of less than 100 degrees is considered normal while teething. If your child has a fever while teething, can your physician/pediatrician. You can ease some of the discomfort by lightly rubbing your baby's gums with a clean finger or a wed gauze pad. A cool teething ring can also help to soothe baby's tender gums.

What Should I Do About thumb/Finger or Pacifier Sucking

This non-nutritive sucking can usually be ignored until the age of 3-4, and definitely cease before permanent teeth begin to appear (approximately 6 years old). The duration and intensity of sucking seems to be more important in determining dental changes. A critical issue with pacifiers is safely. A pacifier should be resistant to breakage, designed to prevent airway obstruction, kept clean, and never secured around your child's neck.

When Should I start Brushing my Child's Teeth?

As soon as the first tooth appears. Daily brushing instills good habits early in life. Baby's teeth begin forming even before birth. All 20 baby teeth are present in a child's jawbones at birth. The lower two font teeth are typically the first to erupt, usually sometime around 6 months after birth. However, do not be concerned if your baby is a little late. By age 3, all 20 baby teeth should be present.

You should start with a small, pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste when the child is old enough not to swallow it. One of the best ways to encourage brushing is to be a good role model. Many parents brush their own teeth while brushing their child's, making brushing a fun time together. Make sure to use a child-sized toothbrush as they fit better inside their mouth and also have better handles for children to hold onto. Bright colors or fun patterns can help encourage brushing and make oral care fun.

Another idea is to have your child brush and you check behind them. If they brushed well enough or they allowed you to brush behind them, then place a sticker or a symbol on a calendar. If they get a month of gold stars, you can take them somewhere special or give them a special prize.

What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

This kind of decay occurs when a child's teeth are frequently exposed to sugary liquids for a long period of time. Among these are milk (including breast milk), formula, fruit juice, and other sweetened liquids. Never use the feeding bottle as a pacifier. If you must give your baby a bottle at bedtime or naptime, make sure it contains plain water. Also, do not give a baby a pacifier that has been dipped in honey or sugar.

Should Children Floss?

Yes. Flossing daily removes plaque and food particles between teeth and below the gumline. Teaching your children to floss is essential to their oral health. You will have to help your youngest children floss, and you should start flossing as soon as they have teeth.

What Role Does Nutrition Play in Healthy Dental Development

Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth. Many snacks that children eat can lead to cavity formation. Chose nutritious snacks for your child, such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt, fruits and low-fat cheese, which are healthier and better for children's teeth.

How Much Fluoride Does my Child Need?

If you have well water, you need to get an analysis of your fluoride concentration prior to additional fluoride supplementation for your child. Other sources of fluoride include foods, vitamins, toothpaste, professional fluoride treatments, and swishes. Your dentist will recommend any additional fluoride that may be needed to protect your teeth. Too much fluoride can alter the appearance of your child's teeth and is toxic in large doses.

How Can I Prepare My Child for Their First Trip to the Dentist?

Fun, not fear, should be the focus of your conversations. You can make your child's first visit to the dentist enjoyable and positive. Tell your child in advance that someone will look at their teeth and clean them. Try showing them pictures of dentists or have fun role-playing, acting like you or your child are the dentist. Most dentists prefer that a parent be present for the examination of any child under the age of 3. Some ask the parent to sit in the dental chair and hold the patient in their lap during the first examination. It can also be helpful to take your younger children along for an older sibling's dental visit so they can get accustomed to the office and the people. As children get older, they are usually happy to be "grown up" and willing to sit in the chair alone while they send their parents back to the waiting room.

Are X-Rays of Baby Teeth Necessary?

Yes. Since baby teeth are in your child's mouth until approximately 11 years old, it is important to keep them in good health. X-rays help to detect cavities and to verify all permanent teeth have formed and will erupt properly. They also help to rule out any abnormal findings.

What is the Right Time for Braces and How Long Do They Stay On?

Kids of all ages have braces and treatment varies from child to child. The ideal time for placement is between 8-14 years of age while the head and mouth are still growing and teeth can be more easily straightened. The more complicated the spacing or biting problem and the older your child is, the longer the period of treatment, usually. Most kids can count on wearing full braces between 18-30 months, followed by the wearing of a retainer. The retainer sets and aligns the tissues around the straightened teeth and keeps the teeth from relapsing. Insufficient cleaning/oral hygiene while wearing braces can cause enamel staining around brackets or bands and may cause decay and gum problems.

Can Antibiotics Stain my Child's Teeth?

Yes. Some types of antibiotics can cause permanent discolorations of the teeth. Be sure to discuss this with your pediatrician or family practitioner when antibiotics are prescribed.

Does Mouth Breathing Affect the Formation of Teeth?

If your child is a mouth breather, consult your dentist or pediatrician. Mouth breathing can be the result of an obstruction caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids or from chronic nasal congestion. It can lead to dental abnormalities that may require professional correction, such as braces.

Should Children Wear Mouthguards When Playing Sports?

Yes. Considering more than 200,000 injuries to the mouth and jaw occur each year, dentist support the use of mouth-guards in a variety of sports. Mouth-guards are effective in moving soft tissue in the oral cavity away from the teeth, preventing laceration and bruising of the lips and cheeks, especially for children who wear braces. Clean with cold water or with an antiseptic mouth rinse. Store your mouth-guard in a firm, perforated container.

For more information:
Preventive Mouthguards

Why Does My Child Have Bad Breath?

Bad breath can be a sign of inflamed or infected tonsils or adenoids, chronic nasal congestion, tooth decay, or gum problems. Consult with your pediatrician or dentist.

What Drinks Are Safe For My Child's Teeth?

The impact of sugary diets on tooth decay is shocking. It has been proven that water consumption, as opposed to other liquids, such as soda pop, juices, sports drinks, and milk, is related to a decrease in cavities. This was even more relevant when the child was 36 months old or older. It is important for children to get enough milk and calcium for the formation of bones and teeth, but also be aware of the natural sugar in milk (lactose) that can lead to decay if brushing does not occur after consumption.

What If My Child Has a Tooth Knocked Out?

Immediately place the tooth in milk and do not scrub or cleanse the tooth, even if it has dirt or debris on it. If you do not have milk available, wrap the tooth in a clean, wet paper towel or cloth and take it and your child to the dentist as quickly as possible. The tooth may be able to be re-implanted into the socket.