You may have many questions about dental health for babies and children. Here are some answers that will keep a smile on the face of every child.
Tooth Decay and Baby Bottles
How can help prevent your baby from getting cavities or developing “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay”? By beginning a routine of oral hygiene within the first days after birth. You can start by cleaning your baby’s mouth with a clean gauze pad by wiping the gums. This removes plaque that can harm incoming teeth. When a child’s teeth begin to come in, brush them gently with a child’s size toothbrush and a small amount (about the size of a grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste. For bottle feedings, avoid using sugary beverages such as juice or soda. Infants should finish their bedtime and nap-time bottle before going to bed.
Accidents can happen. Knowing how to handle a dental emergency can result in saving your child’s permanent tooth. For all dental emergencies, it’s important to take your child to the dentist or an emergency room as soon as possible.
If your child’s experiences an accident, keep calm and follow these tips for common dental emergencies:
- Knocked-out tooth: Keep it moist. Place it in milk or between your child’s cheek and gums, and call your dentist right away.
- Cracked tooth: Rinse out the mouth with warm water to clean the area and use cold compresses on the face to keep any swelling down.
- Bite to tongue or lip: Clean the area and apply a cold compress.
- Toothaches: Rinse the mouth with warm water. Use dental floss to remove food caught between the teeth. Do not put aspirin on the aching tooth or gum tissues.
- Objects stuck in between teeth: Gently remove with floss, but do not try to remove it with sharp or pointed instruments.
Infants and children may naturally suck on fingers, thumbs, or pacifiers. Sucking may help them feel relaxed, safe, and happy. Most children stop thumb sucking at around age 4. Thumb sucking after the permanent teeth have come in can cause problems with tooth alignment and your child’s bite. The frequency and duration of the habit will determine whether or not dental problems may occur. Children who rest their thumbs in their mouths are less likely to have difficulty than those who regularly suck their thumbs. Talk to your dentist or pediatrician of you are worried about your child’s habits.
Space maintainers or “spacers” help hold space for permanent teeth. Your child may need one if they prematurely loses a baby tooth. If a baby tooth is lost too early, adult teeth can come into the empty space instead of the correct location. When adult teeth are ready to come in, there may not be enough room for them because of the lost space. Many dentists will recommend a space maintainer to hold the space left open by the missing tooth.
Sealants are a easy and fast way of protecting your child’s teeth. Sealants create barriers to cavity-prone areas. They are administered by applying sealants to the surfaces of back teeth. They are sometimes used to cover deep pits and grooves in the teeth. Sealing a tooth is fast and it is relatively non in-invasive. As long as the sealant remains , the tooth surface will be protected from decay. Sealants hold up well under normal chewing, but may have to be reapplied in regular intervals. Both baby and permanent teeth can benefit from sealants. Ask your dentist if sealants are right for your child.
Mouth-guards can help protect your child from injury and damage to the mouth and teeth. Mouth-guards should be worn whenever your child is participating in recreational activities and sports. Mouth-guards protect the teeth from blows that would otherwise cause broken teeth, injuries to the lips or face, and sometimes even jaw fractures. If your child participates in such activities, ask your dentist about custom-fitted mouth protectors.
A Bad Bite, or Malocclusion, is a condition in which the teeth are crooked, crowded, or out of alignment. A bad bite may become more noticeable when a child’s permanent teeth are coming in by the ages of between 6 and 12. Having bad bite can make it difficult to keep teeth and gums clean when teeth are crowded or crooked, increasing the risk for cavities and gum disease.
Anesthesia and Sedation
Your dentist may recommend that your child be administered anesthesia or sedation to relax them in order to safely complete some dental procedures.