Just when you think you’ve gotten the hang of taking care of your baby, a new complication enters the picture: teeth. Since even adults can have trouble taking care of their teeth, the idea of being responsible for someone else’s teeth is daunting. Luckily, modern medicine has made taking care of baby’s teeth easier than ever. Here’s what you need to know.
Visit the dentist by age 1
The key to oral health is an early start. Your baby’s teeth will be susceptible to decay even before she starts eating solid food. Dental caries feed on sugar, which is present even in breast milk and formula. By age 1, your baby will likely have several erupting teeth, which means it’s time to visit the dentist.
WebMD says this first visit is a crucial step in beginning a habit of good oral health, and your dentist can give you tips and suggestions on baby tooth care, teething, fluoride and thumb-sucking.
Use fluoride toothpaste
Contrary to past recommendations when fluoride wasn’t recommended for children under 1, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry now recommends using a “tiny smear” of fluoride toothpaste starting with your baby’s very first tooth. You’ll increase that to a pea-sized dollop when your child turns 3. Don’t worry if your baby swallows a little toothpaste at first, but do start teaching him to spit around age 2.
Fluoride is a cavity-preventing compound found in most toothpaste that can lower your child’s risk of dental caries by 25 percent. Omaha’s drinking water is also fluoridated, which offers another barrier of protection for your family’s teeth.
Develop good brushing habits
Start your children young with the good brushing habits you’ve always heard of: Brush twice a day using the right amount of toothpaste, floss daily and help your children make healthy snack choices. Foods like nuts or fruit snacks may stick to the teeth and provide breeding grounds for dental caries. Adults should help their children with brushing and flossing until at least age 6, according to the AAPD.
Another important brushing habit you should encourage your children to cultivate is tongue brushing. Quality Dental Care of Omaha and Bennington Quality Dental Care explain, “Because your tongue’s surface is full of small crevices, harmful bacteria can easily remain on the surface, unless otherwise removed by brushing or scraping.”
You can help your child brush or scrape the back of his or her tongue with each tooth brushing. Be sure to reach as far back on the tongue as you can, since that’s where most of the bacteria reside.
Request dental sealants
Dental sealants prevent cavities in hard-to-reach parts of the tooth by sealing the crevices found on the tooth’s chewing surface. It takes only a few minutes in a dentist’s office to apply these sealants, and their protection can last for years. Sealants can be applied to both baby and adult teeth, and most dental insurances will cover part of or all the cost.
Ask your dentist about silver diamine fluoride
When caries do develop, despite all efforts, parents will want to know what their treatment options are. A new treatment for dental caries now available at Quality Dental Care is called silver diamine fluoride (SDF). It’s a treatment that can prevent the growth or spread of activated caries in your child’s teeth.
Dentists and parents may find it especially attractive because it offers an effective alternative to the sedation or general anesthesia methods often necessary to treat the teeth of young children who can’t lie still for cavity treatment. It takes just a few minutes in the office to paint the SDF on the affected areas. Depending on the child and the application time of the SDF, it has been found to arrest dental caries between 47 and 90 percent of the time. If necessary, reapplication can halt further development of the caries.