early1Normally the first tooth erupts between ages 6 to 12 months. Gums are sore, tender and sometimes irritable until the age of 3. Rubbing sore gums gently with a clean finger, the back of a cold spoon or a cold, wet cloth helps soothe the gums. Teething rings work well, especially the ones that can be chilled, but avoid teething biscuits that contain sugar. This is not good for baby teeth.

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

A bottle containing anything other than water that is left in an infant’s mouth while sleeping can cause decay. This happens because sugar in the liquid mixes with the natural bacteria in dental plaque, forming acids that attack the tooth enamel. Each time a child drinks liquids containing sugar (including mother's milk, formula, juice, etc.), acids remain on the teeth for about 20 minutes. When awake, saliva carries away the liquid. During sleep, the saliva flow significantly decreases and liquids pool around the child’s teeth for long periods, covering the teeth in acids.

Infants who need a bottle to comfortably fall asleep should be given a water-filled bottle or a pacifier. It is most helpful to raise your baby on a "Feed, Wake, Sleep" schedule. Keeping your baby or toddler awake after each feeding will help the natural flow of saliva wash your child's teeth.

While your baby is teething, it is important to monitor the teeth for signs of “baby bottle decay.” Examine the teeth, especially on the inside or the tongue side, every two weeks for dull spots (whiter than the tooth surface) or lines. Our office is dedicated to fighting baby bottle tooth decay. Let us know if you notice any signs of decay or anything unusual in your child’s mouth.

Infant’s New Teeth

earlyThe primary, or “baby,” teeth play a crucial role in dental development. Without them, a child cannot chew food properly and has difficulty speaking clearly. Primary teeth are vital to development of the jaws and for guiding the permanent (secondary) teeth into place when they begin to replace the primary teeth around age 6.

Since primary teeth guide the permanent teeth into place, infants with missing primary teeth or infants who prematurely lose primary teeth may require a space maintainer, a device used to hold the natural space open. Without a maintainer, the teeth can tilt toward the empty space and cause permanent teeth to come in crooked. The way your child cares for his/her primary teeth plays a critical role in how he/she treats the permanent teeth.

As soon as your child begins to eat sitting up in a high-chair, make it a habit to hand him/her a small child's toothbrush with a tiny bit of child's toothpaste to chew on. This is a good habit to form early.

A Child’s First Dental Visit

A child’s first dental visit should be scheduled around his/her 3rd birthday. The most important part of the visit is getting to know and becoming comfortable with Dr. Martin and his staff, as well as the new sights, sounds and smells. A pleasant, comfortable first visit builds trust and helps put the child at ease during future dental visits. If possible, allow the child to sit on a parent’s lap in the exam room. Parents who share a positive attitude with their child help to build confidence and create a happy experience. Negative talk, "horror stories", or threats should be avoided at all costs.

If you notice any decay or feel that your child has a dental problem before their 3rd birthday, call Dr. Martin's office for an early examination.

Good Diet and Healthy Teeth

The teeth, bones and soft tissue of the mouth require a healthy, well-balanced diet. A variety of healthy foods help minimize or avoid cavities and other dental problems. Healthy snacks include vegetables, low-fat yogurt, cheeses and fruit. Of course, sugary snacks should be minimized. Sticky snacks that stick in the tiny crevices such as fruit leather, raisins, graham crackers and cookies should be avoided.

Swish and Swallow

Teach your child to swish with water and simply swallow it after any snack or meal when they can't brush. This highly beneficial habit will help to promote a healthy mouth for a lifetime.

Infant Tooth Eruption

A child’s teeth actually start forming before birth. As early as 4 months of age, the primary or “baby” teeth push through the gums—the lower central incisors are first, then the upper central incisors. The remainder of the 20 primary teeth typically erupt by age 3, but the place and order varies.

Permanent teeth begin eruption around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until around age 21. Adults have 28 permanent teeth—32 including the third molars (wisdom teeth).

Thumb Sucking

photo_thumbsucking_07Sucking is a natural reflex that relaxes and comforts babies and toddlers. Children usually cease thumb sucking when the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Typically, children stop between the ages of 2 and 4 years. Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of primary teeth can cause improper growth of the mouth and misalignment of the teeth. If you notice prolonged and/or vigorous thumb sucking behavior in your child, talk to Dr. Martin.

Here are some ways to help your child outgrow thumb sucking:

  • Don’t scold a child when they exhibit thumb sucking behavior; instead, praise them when they don’t thumb suck.
  • Focus on eliminating the cause of anxiety. Thumb sucking is a comfort device that helps children cope with stress or discomfort.
  • Praise them when they refrain from the habit during difficult periods.