Oral health is for life and it starts by taking the proper steps at the earliest stage of oral development. Stanley Pediatric Dentistry of Overland Park is committed to covering all the bases, from teething in babies to caring for baby teeth, and giving your child the very best in dental care during those critical developmental years.
Just as every parent is committed to being sure every aspect of their child’s health is taken care of from the very beginning, we’re equally invested in being a partner in the well-being of each child that comes through our office door.
A child’s first dental visit should be scheduled around his or her first birthday. The most important part of the visit is getting to know and becoming comfortable with your child’s dental home, the doctor, and staff. One of our experienced dental team members will go over your child’s health and dental history, discuss any concerns you may have, provide you with age appropriate oral hygiene instructions, and discuss what to expect and look for during particular development stages. The doctor will perform an oral exam “knee to knee” so your infant or toddler can remain in your lap where they feel safe. A pleasant, comfortable first visit builds trust and helps put the child at ease during future dental visits.
Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head, especially one designed for infants. Removing plaque bacteria that can lead to decay is important, and should be done once per day.
When a child goes to sleep while nursing or bottle feeding, baby bottle tooth decay can occur. Rapid decay associated with prolonged nursing happens because the flow of saliva is reduced during sleep, causing the natural self-cleaning process in the mouth to be diminished. Nursing children to sleep should be avoided, and be sure to put only water in their bedtime bottle. As their first birthday approaches, encourage your child to drink from a cup, setting a goal of having them weaned from the bottle by 12-14 months of age.
Like any habit, thumb and pacifier sucking that are allowed to continue for a long period of time can lead to crowded, crooked teeth and even bite problems. While most children stop these habits on their own while still in the baby teeth stages of development, an appliance can be recommended by the time permanent teeth arrive.
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, you should begin using a small "smear", the size of a grain of rice, of fluoride toothpaste on an appropriately sized toothbrush as soon as the first tooth erupts. At age 3 start using a "pea-sized" amount instead. An adult should be taking a turn brushing until age 8, or later depending on child’s brushing skills.
We refer to the arrival of baby teeth as erupting, and the first usually come in at around six months of age. The two lower front teeth, called the central incisors, will erupt first, followed by the two upper central incisors not long after that. The next 18 to 24 months generally see the arrival of the rest of the baby teeth, though not in any particular order. By 2 to 3 years of age, all 20 primary teeth should be present.
Sore gums during the eruption process are normal, but painful. For some children, the use of a teething biscuit, chilled teething ring or washcloth, chewing on frozen bananas or bagels can ease the pain. Additionally, pain relievers can be used periodically if it very troublesome. It is no longer recommended to use Benzocaine teething gels or tabs for children under 2 as there have been reports of serious complications.