One of the most important things to do as a parent is to promote good oral hygiene for your child as well as yourself. This should start as early as possible. Busy, new parents need to take the time for their own dental health as this can provide lasting benefits for your new baby. Read on!
What You Need to Know
Babies are not born with bacteria in their mouths. In fact, bacteria are transferred to the baby by everyday contact such as cuddling, kissing, feeding and playing. As a parent, you should be very mindful to keep excellent oral hygiene and reduce the number of microorganisms in your mouth that have the potential of being passed on to your baby.
It is totally normal for your baby to suck on a thumb, finger or pacifier as sucking is a comforting and healthy habit that begins as a natural reflex in the womb. Prolonged sucking however, after about five years of age, can lead to some concerns including protruding upper front teeth, misalignment of the upper and lower jaws and malformation of the upper palate. The amount of the damage usually relates to the frequency, intensity and duration of the habit. Parents should also look for the stress factors that might be causing the continued sucking. At Kids Dental we think pacifiers are a better option than finger sucking because the habit is easier to break as parents have more control over the conditions and timeline of its use. In addition the pacifier is a good alternative to the comfort bottle of formula, milk, or juice at bedtime.
Nursing mothers may on occasion require medication for a medical or dental condition. It’s important for the nursing mother to discuss the risks and benefits of each medication with the dentist or physician before using it. The amount of medication appearing in breast milk depends on the drug’s characteristics as well as the characteristics of the mother’s breast milk (i.e. rate at which milk is produced, blood flow to the breast). A nursing infant will receive approximately 1% of the mother’s drug dose.
The first teeth generally appear between from 6 and 14 months, and are usually the lower or upper front teeth called the central incisors. The next teeth to make an appearance are usually right beside the central incisors and are called the lateral incisors. The eruption of teeth in your infant will vary and may be 10 to 12 months from the average ranges and still be normal. Every baby’s teething schedule is different. Children whose teeth erupt later may have a slightly higher resistance to tooth decay because teeth that stay under the gums longer will pick up the fluoride in the water supply as well as other sources and become more resistant to decay.
Cleaning and Caring for the Infant Teeth – A baby’s mouth will form plaque from bacteria and food in the mouth. Plaque is a film containing a sticky substance that coats the teeth and sets the stage for decay and gum disease. Bacteria use food to produce an acid that causes tooth decay and harm to the gums. Regular cleaning of your infant’s gums and teeth helps to ensure a healthy and happy baby.
Teething can vary in every infant depending on the age of eruption of the primary teeth. Teething is often associated with daytime restlessness, an increase in amount of finger sucking, an increase in drooling and possibly some loss of appetite. The gums may appear red before the appearance of the tooth and cause some temporary pain that should subside after a few days. Parents should always be on the watch during teething and check with their pediatrician if symptoms include fever, nausea or congestion.
What You Need to Do
- Babies should never be put to bed with a bottle as it can result in severe tooth decay.
- If using a pacifier, never dip the pacifier in anything sweet like honey, attach the pacifier to a cord, string or a ribbon for fear of strangulation, or replace a bottle nipple for a pacifier.
- Discard pacifiers that show signs of wear or breakdown. Bulbs that are swollen, cracked or sticky should be discarded.
- Only use a pacifier with a shield wider than the baby’s mouth to prevent choking.
- Never leave a child unattended with a pacifier or let an infant sleep with a pacifier
- If you are nursing and must take prescribed medication, ask your doctor about any effects the medication may have on your baby and ensure the medication is safe to take during breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding mothers who require medication are advised to breastfeed immediately before or shortly after taking the dosage. Your breast milk will have the highest amount of the drug dosage one to three hours after you’ve taken the drug.
- Start to clean your baby’s mouth and gums as soon as possible with a soft cloth or infant toothbrush.
- Once your infant’s teeth begin to appear (as early as 4 months old), they should be cleaned twice a day, preferably after breakfast and after their last meal in the evening.
- If teething pain is making your baby restless or uncomfortable use a clean, chilled teething ring to help alleviate the pain or Children’s Tylenol elixir to help reduce pain and swelling. Benzocaine ointment should not be used as it may cause numbing of the throat and cause your baby to choke if too much is used. (do you want to name these brands?)
Call Kids Dental today to arrange your child’s first dental exam and review the section on dental care for children 1-4 years old to find out how you can help ensure the best dental health for your growing child.