Your infant should be seen by our dentist at least by the child’s first birthday. Around this time, the child’s first (primary) teeth will start to erupt, so it is a critical time to diagnose any problems before they become serious concerns.
Harmful habits such as thumb-sucking and falling asleep while nursing on a bottle can lead to a variety of dental problems, including malformed teeth, bite problems, and “baby bottle” tooth decay. By teaching your child good oral health habits early on, you can help stave off potential problems.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by the combination of saliva and the sugary substances found in breast milk and some juices. These pool in the baby’s mouth and, if left untreated, can lead to premature decay of the primary teeth, which in turn can affect the formation of the permanent teeth.
To help avoid baby bottle tooth decay, do not allow your baby to nurse on a bottle while going to sleep and avoid dipping pacifiers in honey or other sweet substances. It is also helpful to encourage your child to start drinking from a cup as early as possible.
Thumb-Sucking, Pacifiers, and Teething
Teething is perfectly normal. It is a sign that the child’s gums are sore. The soreness can be relieved by rubbing the baby’s gums using your finger or damp gauze, or by having the baby suck on a teething ring. Children under the age of four can safely use pacifiers and teething rings to relieve gum pain. After age four, we generally discourage pacifiers because they can interfere with the development of the child’s teeth.
Thumb-sucking should always be discouraged because it can lead to crooked and/or crowded teeth.
Primary and Permanent Teeth
Everyone grows 20 primary teeth by the age of three or four. By the age of 12 or 13, your primary teeth will have been replaced by a full set of 28 permanent teeth. Later on, four third-molars (the wisdom teeth) will also erupt.
It is essential to keep the primary teeth healthy because their development will affect the growth of the permanent teeth. To keep the primary (and permanent) teeth healthy, it is important to have your child brush with fluoride toothpaste (unless they are under the age of two), floss, and attend regular check-ups with the dentist. Dental sealants can also help to prevent tooth decay. Please contact our office to learn more about your child’s oral health.