Newborns & Infants
Baby teeth start to emerge between six and nine months of age. These milk teeth or first teeth help your child eat and speak and also help the adult teeth come in straight.
Infants can get cavities.
Taking care of your child’s teeth and gums is as important as having a medical checkup. Infections of any sort, including gum disease or an abscessed tooth, can cause fever, rashes and other symptoms, as well as leave the immune system compromised. Cavities in babies and small children can even have the potential to lead to major surgery under anesthetic.
Preventive care includes:
- Wiping the gums with a washcloth or q-tip after each feeding to get rid of residue milk or pureed food. When the teeth start to appear in the mouth, which begins at about six months, you must remove the dental plaque (bacteria, food, cells) from all five surfaces of each tooth. If the teeth have no space between them and are touching, those teeth need to be flossed.
- Not going to bed with fluids other than water in their bottle. This can cause a lot of damage to your baby’s teeth.
- Not letting your baby sleep at the breast or with a bottle of juice, formula or milk. The sugar will remain on the child’s teeth throughout their sleep and can damage the enamel and cause tooth decay.
Baby’s First Dentist Visit
Around the age of one or when the first teeth appear, make an appointment for your child to see the dentist. Having your child see the dentist early will ensure you receive important information on their oral health and also help stop any disease that may be forming before it becomes a major problem.
To prepare for the first visit:
- Try playing “dentist.” Make this role-playing exercise fun and explain that this is essentially what the dentist will do.
- Explain other things that may happen at the dentist’s office, using non-technical language. Don’t try to explain X-rays, for instance. Talk about X-rays as pictures and try to avoid words like ‘hurt’, ‘shot’, ‘drill’, ‘needle’, ‘yank’, ‘pull’, or ‘pinch’—try to take a positive approach.
- Take your child along with an older brother, sister or friend when they go for a routine checkup or cleaning. This will help introduce your little one to the dentist’s office.
- Treat the appointment as routine
- Tell your dentist about any special needs or medical problems your child may have, such as allergies or bleeding disorders