It is very important to try to prevent decay of your child’s primary teeth. As soon as teeth appear in the mouth, decay can occur. One of the risk factors for this “baby bottle tooth decay” is frequent and prolonged exposure of a baby’s teeth to liquids containing sugar. These liquids could include milk, breast milk, formula, and fruit juice. Tooth decay can also occur when parents or caregivers put a baby to bed with a bottle – or use milk, formula, or juice as a pacifier for a fussy baby. If you use a pacifier, use a clean one. Never dip a pacifier in sugar or honey before giving it to a baby. Prolonged use of pacifiers can harm the teeth just like prolonged thumb sucking, but it is often easier to wean a child from a pacifier than a thumb. Encourage children to drink from a cup by their first birthday, and discourage frequent use of a training or Sippy cup. Never allow a baby to take a bottle to bed at night or naptime.
Regular dental check-ups and preventative dental care such as cleanings, fluoride treatments and sealants, provide your child with “smile” insurance. Plan your child’s first dental visit within six months after the first tooth erupts, but no later than his or hers first birthday.
Consider it a “well baby check-up” for your child’s teeth. During your child’s first visit, your dentist will check:
• for cavities
• to see how well the teeth are being cleaned and offer suggestions if necessary
• to make sure the proper number of teeth have erupted
• to see that your child is receiving the proper amount of fluoride
• to see if the parents have any questions or concerns
Routine dental exams will help assess your child’s dental health through the years. By age seven, it is recommended that your child receive an orthodontic evaluation.
Your dentist is there to provide information to help you take care of your child’s oral health.
Teething can be painful for young children. Watch this week’s Your Dental Health for some tips on managing your child’s pain.
Mouth guards are an important part of any sports uniform. If you play a sport, or participate in activities like skateboarding, karate, or football, it’s a good idea to wear a mouth guard to protect your teeth from getting chipped, broken or knocked out. There are different kinds of mouth guards and each offer dental protection. -Stock mouth protectors are pre-formed and come ready to wear. They are inexpensive and can be bought at most sporting good stores. They do not offer very much protection but are better than going without a mouth guard. -Boil and Bite mouth protectors also can be bought at many sporting good stores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors because they form to your mouth. -Custom Fitted mouth protectors are individually designed and made in a dental office or professional laboratory based on your dentist’s instructions. They offer the most protection. If you have questions about which mouth guard is right for you, consult your dentist.