Our office, as well as the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) all agree that a “Dental Home” should be established for every child no later than their first birthday. These early visits are beneficial for parents, as our team’s focus will be on reviewing important growth, development and oral-health milestones, as well as going over healthy diet and oral hygiene habits for home care.
At Sycamore Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry, we love seeing babies and teaching their parents about taking care of their teeth and oral health!
Remember, kids who establish their Dental Home at an early age have better overall oral health outcomes
This ensures that your child’s teeth and oral development will be closely and periodically monitored. It also helps to promote a positive impression and experience at the dentist, which can carry on into their adult life!
Let’s Start Slow
The first exam and cleaning is typically conducted “knee-to-knee” — that is, with Dr. Sarah examining and brushing your child’s mouth while your baby remains in the comfort of your lap. How does that work? Easy! Dr. Sarah and her team will explain all the steps involved. To give you an idea, you’ll place your child facing towards you, with his or her legs wrapped around your waist, then gently lay him or her back in the dentist’s lap. Dr. Sarah can then perform a gentle exam of your baby’s mouth with a mirror, clean their teeth with a toothbrush, and apply a fluoride treatment, if recommended. X-rays, or “pictures” are usually not taken at this visit unless there has been trauma to the teeth or if there is a cavity or infection present.
Some babies will cry and fuss as this is going on, and that’s okay and completely normal! It’s important to remember that the exam is necessary to determine your baby’s oral health status and to see if all tissues and teeth are developing normally. The best thing you can do is hold your baby’s hands as this is going on and let Dr. Sarah do the rest. Dr. Sarah may sing to your child while this is going on as a soothing technique, so if he or she has a favorite tune, Dr. Sarah is always up for song requests! Just know that this process will be brief and it does not cause your child any pain. The routine always ends with a prize and a goodie bag to keep your little one happy and smiling.
Preventing “Sugar Bugs”
Many parents don’t realize that cavity-causing (cariogenic) bacteria can be transmitted from Mom, Dad, or any other caregiver to child. This transmission happens either by sharing eating utensils or “cleaning” of pacifiers in the parent’s mouth. Please try to avoid sharing eating utensils with your baby and rinse pacifiers with warm water or wipes instead
Wiping gums and teeth after the bottle or nursing
Babies are at risk for early cavities as soon as the first tooth erupts. For young infants, wipe their gums (and teeth once erupted) with a damp washcloth after every feeding. This reduces oral bacteria and minimizes the risk of early cavities
Brushing at least twice a day
Once teeth start to appear, it’s important to start brushing right away! Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a “smear” or “rice grain” size amount of fluoridated toothpaste (for kids under 3 years old), gently brush teeth in the morning and right before bedtime
Flossing is important
As soon as two adjacent teeth appear in the mouth, cavities can form in between the teeth, especially if they are touching. Dr. Sarah will give you advice on when and how to floss your baby’s teeth during your visit
Using the pacifier
Pacifier use should ideally discontinue by the age of three, if not weened off by an earlier age.
Use “regular” cups when possible
Baby bottles and sippy cups are primarily responsible for baby and infant tooth decay. Both allow a small amount of liquid to frequently enter the mouth. As a result, sugary liquids (milk, juice, sweetened water, etc.) are constantly in contact with the infant’s teeth, allowing bacteria to thrive and creating the perfect environment for cavities to form
Healthy sleep habits
Make sure to never put your baby to sleep with a bottle of milk or formula because this can lead to early childhood tooth decay. Try to avoid the bottle in bed if possible or just fill it with water instead
Visit a Pediatric Dentist
By their first birthday, every child should visit a pediatric dentist for an exam and cleaning. Think of this as a “Well Baby Check-Up.” Dr. Sarah will examine your baby’s tooth and jaw development and provide recommendations to promote and support your baby’s oral health