Infant Dental Care and Child Dental Care

When should child dental care begin?

Most pediatric dentist will agree that regular dental care should begin by one year of age, with a dental check up at least twice each consecutive year for most children. Some children may need more frequent evaluations and care. In accordance with this recommendation, the following dental checklist for infants and toddlers has been provided by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Birth to 6 months of age:

Clean the infant’s mouth with gauze after feedings and at bedtime. Consult your child pediatrician regarding fluoride supplements for toddlers. Regulate feeding habits (bottle feeding and breastfeeding).

Six to 12 months of age:

During this time, the first tooth should appear. Consult the Pediatric dentist for an examination. Brush teeth after each feeding and at bedtime with a small, soft-bristled brush. As the child begins to walk, stay alert of potential dental and/or facial injuries. Wean the child from breast or bottle by his/her first birthday.

Twelve to 24 months of age:

Follow the schedule of dental examination and cleaning, as recommended by your children’s pediatric dentistry. Generally, dental examination and cleaning are recommended every 6 months for children and adults.

As your child learns to rinse his/her mouth, and as most deciduous (baby) teeth have erupted by this age, brushing with a pea-sized portion of fluoride toothpaste for kids becomes appropriate.

Facts about deciduous teeth:

Proper dental care of a child’s deciduous teeth (also known as “baby” or primary teeth) is very important as these teeth hold space for the future eruption of permanent teeth.

If a baby tooth decay or is removed too early, the space necessary for the permanent teeth is lost and can only be regained through orthodontic treatment.

Infected baby tooth can cause the permanent teeth to develop improperly resulting in stains, pits, and weaker teeth.

Most children begin losing their baby teeth around the age of 4 – usually the front bottom teeth first. They continue to lose baby teeth until the age of 12 or 13 when all of the permanent teeth finally come through.

Thumb Sucking and Child Dental Health Care

Generally, thumb sucking before the age of two is normal and harmless. When thumb sucking is not stopped by the appropriate age (generally by the age of five) then parents should discourage the act. Prolonged thumb-sucking may contribute to crowded and/or crooked teeth development and bite problems.

Diet and child dental care:

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends the following to ensure your child eats correctly to maintain a healthy body and teeth:
1. Ask your pediatric dentist to help you assess your child’s diet.
2. Shop smart. Do not routinely stock your pantry with sugary or starchy snacks.
3. Buy “fun foods” just for special times.
4. Limit the number of snack times; choose nutritious snacks.
5. Provide a balanced diet, and save foods with sugar or starch for mealtimes. Do not put your young child to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, or juice. If your child chews gum or sips soda, choose those without sugar.