The Importance of Baby Teeth

A Closer Look On Baby Teeth Care

There they are one day: your baby’s teeth! Now what?

As your baby begins to develop teeth, you may notice changes to more than just his or her mouth. Your baby may become more irritable or restless. In addition, you will need to begin caring for his/her teeth to keep them healthy. Prepare for your baby’s teeth by knowing what to expect, how you can help, and how to take care those baby pearly whites.

What can I expect?

Baby teeth usually begin appearing between 4-7 months, although all children are different. The first teeth to come in are usually the bottom front teeth. Sometimes teething may hurt and cause the baby to be fussy and drool more than usual.

Teething does not cause a fever. A fever usually indicates another issue. If your baby has a fever you should see a doctor to determine the issue.

What can I do to help?

You can help alleviate teething pain by:

Giving a cold teething ring or wash cloth to suck on.
Rubbing your baby’s gums with a clean finger.
Asking your doctor about infant’s acetaminophen. (Do not give your infant aspirin. Aspirin can cause serious illness in infants.)
Asking your doctor about using teething gels.

How can I take care of my baby’s teeth?

You can start cleaning your baby’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears. You should use a damp wash cloth to wipe away plaque twice a day until the child is one year old. If left unchecked, plaque can damage babies’ teeth as they come in.

After one year of age, you should begin using a soft baby brush and a small dab of toothpaste that does not have fluoride in it. The non-fluoride toothpaste should be safe for your infant to swallow. Choose a brush that has soft bristles, a small head, and a large handle. Be on the lookout for signs of tooth decay such as brown or white spots on the tooth. Take your baby to the dentist after his/her first birthday.

If you give your child a bottle or sippy cup be sure not to leave it with your baby in the crib. Falling asleep with milk or juice in the mouth can cause decay. You can start using a sippy cup at 6 months old and should stop using a bottle at 1 year of age. Avoid sugary juices and flavored milks as these can lead to decay.

If your baby shows signs of tooth decay schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible!

Why is it Important to Repair Baby Teeth?

You may think that baby teeth eventually just fall out and may not need to be repaired if they have any problems, but they definitely play a huge role for eating and future development of permanent teeth. Your baby teeth, or primary teeth, fall out at different times depending on the type of tooth. For instance, primary molars don’t fall out by at least the age of ten. It’s possible that a cavity can develop during that time frame and cause a problem for the tooth before it falls out. Any sign of small decay can spread and cause the premature loss of a primary tooth. The more primary teeth that are in good shape, the better! Preserving the health of primary teeth is important is because it holds the space for permanent teeth. Keeping them around is the best way to avoid unnecessary crowding in the future caused by other teeth drifting into any spaces left by an extracted primary tooth.



Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

What happened to these teeth!? Why does this little 2-year-old’s teeth look like this? These are cavities, and they are a result of what is called “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.” One of the ways cavities can develop is when sweetened liquids or those with natural sugars remain on the teeth for prolonged periods of time like when a child uses a bottle or a sippy cup. Bacteria use this sugar and make acid which clings to the teeth and rots the teeth away. Sleeping with a bottle can be especially bad as the sugars (even the natural sugars from milk) can cling to the teeth all night long. In order to prevent this from happening, it is important to limit the amount of time a child sips on their bottle or sippy cup. Instead of allowing them to sip on these all day and night long, let them drink from it in one sitting and then clean their teeth – either with a toothbrush or wipe the teeth off with a cloth. As soon as your child’s first tooth comes in, the teeth should be cleaned at least twice daily, especially before bed after the last thing they have to eat or drink. For ultimate cavity protection it is now recommended to use a very small amount, no larger than a grain of rice,  of fluoridated toothpaste twice daily as soon as the teeth come in.

Instead of juice or milk in the bottle or sippy cup between meals or at bed or nap times, choose water.

The Importance of Baby Teeth

Why are baby teeth important? Your child needs their baby teeth to be healthy to chew their food, speak, and keep the space needed for their adult teeth to grow in properly.  Sometimes when a baby tooth is lost, the teeth next to it can move into the empty space. When the adult teeth try to grow in, there is not enough space.  This can cause teeth to be crooked and or crowded.

Your child’s baby teeth are at risk for decay as soon as they first appear, which is typically around six months. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is often referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay or Early Childhood Caries (cavities). It most often occurs in the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also be affected. In some unfortunate cases, infants and toddlers have experienced decay so severe that the teeth could not be repaired and needed to be removed. The good news is that decay is preventable.

Tooth decay in infants generally begins when bacteria is passed from the mother to the baby.  When a mother (or primary caregiver) puts a spoon or pacifier in their mouth and then back in the baby’s mouth, the bacteria is passed.

Liquids that contain sugar are another reason for decay. These liquids include sweetened water, fruit juice, milk, breast milk and baby formula. A baby should never go to bed with a bottle. The longer the liquid stays on the mouth, the longer the acids that feed on the bacteria have a chance to attach to the teeth, leading to decay.

Fluoride is important because it can combine with the enamel and create a stronger tooth that is more resistant to decay.

Below are tips from the American Dental Association on how to prevent decay on your toddler’s baby teeth:

  • Lower the risk of the baby’s infection with decay-causing bacteria. This can be done two ways – by improving the oral health of the mother/caregiver, which reduces the number of bacteria in her mouth, and by not sharing saliva with the baby through common use of feeding spoons or licking pacifiers and giving them to babies.
  • After each feeding, wipe the baby’s gums with a clean, damp gauze pad or washcloth. This will remove plaque and bits of food that can harm erupting teeth. When your child’s teeth begin to erupt, brush them gently with a child-sized toothbrush and water. (Consult with your kid’s dentist or physician if you are considering using fluoride toothpaste before age two.)
  • When your little one can be counted on to spit and not swallow toothpaste (usually not before age two), begin brushing with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. The American Dental Association recommends fluoride toothpaste. Ask your dentist about your child’s fluoride needs.
  • Brush their baby teeth until he or she is at least six years old.
  • Place only formula, milk or breastmilk in bottles. Avoid filling the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice or soft drinks.
  • Infants should finish their bedtime and naptime bottles before going to bed.
  • If your toddler uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean — don’t dip it in sugar or honey, or put it in your mouth before giving it to the child.
  • Encourage children to drink from a cup by their first birthday and discourage frequent or prolonged use of a training (sippy) cup.
  • Encourage healthy eating habits that include a diet with plenty of vegetables, fruit and whole grains. Serve nutritious snacks and limit sweets to mealtimes.
  • Ensure that your child has adequate exposure to fluoride. Discuss his or her fluoride needs with your dentist or pediatrician.