Dental Health from Birth to Age Three
Usually, your dentist would like to see your child 6 months after the first tooth erupts, but no later than 12 months of age. Prior to the child's first visit, there are many measures that parents can take to ensure good oral health.
Baby Bottle Nipples
To begin, if mom is not going to breast feed, the type of nipple used on the bottle can have a definite effect on the growth of the jaws and development of muscles and swallowing patterns. Some nipples are better than others for not promoting certain orthodontic conditions. Talk to your dentist about which type of nipple he or she recommends.
Perhaps the most predictable and consistent preventive measure in dentistry is the application of systemic fluoride. If your water district doesn't add fluoride to the water supply, your baby should be receiving drops of a fluoride/vitamin combination as soon as possible after birth. The first permanent molars are already calcifying by the age of three months. In this formative stage, the tooth will incorporate the greatest amount of fluoride. Studies have shown that fluoride will not cross the placental barrier, so pregnant women no longer receive fluoride preparations. Systemic fluoride is a safe and effective way to dramatically reduce dental decay, along with the cost of dental treatment. Call your dentist's office to learn if your water is fluoridated; and if it is not, he or she will be able to prescribe the proper dosage.
On the average, a baby will start to get its first teeth at about six months. Tooth eruption (teething) can cause discomfort for your baby, as well as many sleepless nights for you. During teething periods, your baby may exhibit excess drooling, a runny nose, low-grade temperature, and/or overall crankiness. To help this situation, you may purchase some two-by-two-inch gauze pads at your pharmacy and lightly rub your baby's gums with them several times a day. This will remove a thin layer of plaque that forms on the gums, thus lessening eruption pain. Most babies will find this massaging very soothing, and some will derive pleasure from sucking on the gauze or your finger.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Many parents give their babies a bottle in bed to pacify them and enable them to fall asleep. Most people mistakenly fill the bottle with milk, fruit juice or water mixed with a sweetening agent such as Karo syrup. Unfortunately, as your baby falls asleep, the tongue and nipple on the bottle pool the liquid around certain teeth. The acidic and/or sugar content of these liquids can cause severe tooth decay. This is called baby bottle tooth decay. If you must give the baby a bottle at bedtime, fill the bottle with plain tap water.
Help your kids get excited about taking care of their teeth with the fun games and activities in Marshall Molar’s Kid Corner! Many topics also are available as downloadable flyers in our oral health flyers section.