Raise a Healthy Smile

pediatric dentistry annapolis maryland

Your Infant’s Gum and Toothcare Play an Important Role in Your Child’s Health

Dr. Jason Denise of Denise Dental Studio believes that your infant’s teeth have a very important role in your child’s health over their entire lifetime. Baby teeth are the placeholders for adult teeth and play a big role in chewing and speech development. Caring for your infant’s teeth begins during the first weeks of your child’s life, long before the first teeth will appear.

Brushing Before Teething

Before the first teeth even appear you can start to create lifelong healthy habits. Gently rub a moistened washcloth or gauze over the infant’s gums 2 – 3 times per day. Not only does this help with hygiene but more importantly your child is getting used to the feeling and routine which will make tooth care much easier moving forward. Gently cleaning the gums a minimum of 2 times per day with one of them being before bed.

Brushing Your Baby’s First Teeth

Now that the first teeth are coming in we can start thinking of using a brush. Look for infant sized toothbrushes with very soft small heads, and large handles. Big enough for your hand but small enough for their teeth. Many brands have “Baby’s 1st Toothbrush” models and are available at major grocery stores. Gently brush the back and front of each tooth as well as the tongue 2 – 3 times per day. You may still find it easy to clean with a moistened soft cloth if your baby is discouraged from the brush.

You should repeat this routine daily until your child can hold the brush themselves. On average children demonstrate that they can accomplish this routine with minimal assistance at 36 months. At that time you could introduce a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. Supervision is still recommended until approximately 6 years old.

When to Use Toothpaste and How Much

No toothpaste is needed during the first few years. As more teeth come in you can gradually introduce a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste. At first only use an amount of fluoride toothpaste similar to a size of a small grain of rice. Continue with this amount of paste until your child is approximately 36 months of age or when your child can hold their own brush. At that stage, you can gradually increase the amount of fluoride toothpaste to a size similar to a pea. Always monitor to make sure your child is not ingesting the toothpaste.

Flossing Baby Teeth

As teeth cut through the gums there will be some spacing between them which your brush can access easily. Once the teeth start to tighten together and you can no longer get your soft bristles between them, introduce flossing. Just like adults, flossing should occur daily, preferably at bedtime. With few teeth and fewer touching, flossing can be done very quickly. With difficulty you may find it easier to use a floss-finger device which holds the floss on a plastic handle to allow for easier access.

Which Teeth Cut First?

Typically the bottom two teeth will cut through first. Followed by the top four teeth. The shape of these first teeth are thin and broad and are used for incising. Molars will come in next which are more painful. Their broad shape and flat surface make them great food grinders but much harder for them to cut through the gums. Molars may cause your child some discomfort versus other teeth. Typically canine teeth will come in next followed by another set of molars behind the first set. Every child is different and your child’s teething order could be different.

Teething is Tough

Teething is a tough time for both baby and parents. The first teeth start to pop up at about 6 months on average but the time-table ranges from 3 – 9 months (sometimes up to 15-18 months). Each tooth that comes in does present pain and can cause excessive drooling, swollen gums, and even a mild fever. The best remedies for teething include cool teething rings and gum message. There are over-the-counter medications but consult your pediatrician first. Most baby teeth should be present at approximately 36 months.

What to Avoid

Sugar will be the biggest enemy of your child’s teeth. Only fill your bottles with formula, breast milk or water to avoid tooth decay. Even cow’s milk or almond milk have enough sugar to settle and cause baby bottle decay. Avoid all juices and sweet drinks as the sugar allows bacteria to damage/decay your babies tooth enamel. Do not add any sweeteners to pacifiers and if your child naps with a bottle or sippy-cup fill it with water only!

Replace your brush as soon as you see any wear or fraying of the bristles. Soft brushes are always recommended for baby teeth versus medium or hard bristle brushes. Soft brushes will wear faster but are much more beneficial for life-long tooth care.

First Dental Visit

Dr Jason Denise recommends an initial pediatric dental visit at 12 months old. This visit allows your child to become comfortable with the dental office and offers an opportunity to educate the parents. Most children with have their teeth cleaned by the age of three. Dr. Denise has a family practice. He is accepting new pediatric patients and it would be his privilege to care for your child’s oral health and hygiene. If you feel that your child is ready for his or her first dental visit, Dr. Denise and his expert staff are happy to navigate both parent and child though a positive successful experience.