Early Infant Oral Care

Most people have a new baby and then get a realization that they need to take care of their oral health. But how do you start? If you have a concern or a question, we are here to help. You can schedule an appointment and we will guide you forward.  
 
The mouth is a complex place and needs care even when we do not have teeth. You should look inside your child’s mouth. Normally, the mouth is different shades of pink with differing types of skin. If you notice anything unusual, call our office and we will get you in to see the dentist. 
 
It is very rare to have cancer in really young children. However, children may have extra tissue or tongue ties may be evaluated for treatment.  We do not limit you or your child from having an examination.  
 
Your infant’s mouth is very sensitive and should be treated gently. Cleaning the mouth with a wet cloth after feedings is the first step in oral hygiene. Your child will want to be stimulated by using teething products or rubbing the gum tissue with brushes designed for this age. 
Children should have a safe, secure place to be seen for routine dental care and dental treatment needs. A dental office that you visit regularly so you become part of that dental family makes up your “dental home.” Studies show that having a dental home is a key step in your child having greater success in oral health. It does not mean your child will not have problems, but you will be more successful at finding a solution when a problem does arise. 
 
As a dental home, we have a lot of responsibilities. We need to help you to prevent cavities though proper dietary patterns and correct oral hygiene. We are a place for you to come in case of dental emergencies. Of course, we help your child with regular needs such as cleaning, examinations, radiographs and fluoride treatments. As needed we provide dental care to eliminate or reduce cavities in your child’s mouth. 
 
We make every attempt to help you establish this home with us. However, we also take many patients by referral from other clinics. We, as a business, support those referring clinics as your dental home and will often refer you back to that dental home. You are welcome to discuss this with us if that situation happens.  

Teething, the process of baby (primary) teeth coming through the gums into the mouth, is variable among individual babies. Some babies get their teeth early and some get them late. In general, the first baby teeth to appear are usually the lower front (anterior) teeth and they usually begin erupting between the age of 6-8 months.
See “Eruption of Your Child’s Teeth” for more details.

Many parents ask about breast feeding or bottle feeding cavities. Cavities in young children is sadly the most common disease in the United States. When your child is feeding between the ages of 0-6 months, children often do not have teeth. Regular feedings promote growth and development in your child. These regular feedings are often every 2-3 hours. As your child gets older, taking breaks between feedings not only helps parents to get chores done, but it prevents cavities. Having a bottle, or sippy cup, at will, or all day long, is a main cause of early childhood caries. I want to be very clear. We fully support breast feeding as we believe it is the best choice for your child in as much as it is possible.  
 
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that you schedule your child for their first visit at one year of age or 6 months after the first tooth erupts. The Academy also recommends that you contact your dentist at any time you have a concern. Establishing a dental home is a first step.

Sippy cups should be used as a training tool from the bottle to a cup and should be discontinued by the first birthday. If your child uses a sippy cup throughout the day, fill the sippy cup with water only (except at mealtimes). By filling the sippy cup with liquids that contain sugar (including milk, fruit juice, sports drinks, etc.) and allowing a child to drink from it throughout the day, it soaks the child’s teeth in cavity causing bacteria.

Using a bottle until the age of one is normal. There are concerns for your child’s oral health though. If your child has a bottle with milk or juice (something other than water) and carries this around all day long, this pattern leads to early childhood caries. Placing a child to bed with a bottle of milk or formula has shown to significantly increase the risk of cavities.  
 
The best practice is to use a bottle for a regular scheduled feeding. The child should only have the bottle for the duration of the feeding, then only water should be given in between feedings or to go to sleep. Generally, 2-3 hours between feedings with just water is normal. Water has not been shown to decrease appetite or growth in children if regular feedings are appropriate.  
 
Young children often leave food or milk in their mouths after feedings. After each feeding you should wipe out your child’s mouth with a washcloth or a wet tooth brush. 
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