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We recommend a first checkup inbetween 6-12 months old to make certain that teeth and jaw development are normal, and even more importantly so that parents and guardians know how to help their children be healthy from the start.
It is often difficult initially to brush your child’s teeth. They can really put up a struggle, screaming, kicking, crying, running away, not opening their mouths – every kid is different. Healthy teeth and gums are so important to start out life with. We’ve often heard the value of choosing your battles with your children, and this is one to choose. Remember that the initial challenge you face is actually more taxing on you than it ultimately is for your child.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, or Baby Bottle Syndrome, or Nursing Bottle Mouth are all terms used to describe a dental condition, which involves the rapid decay of many or all the baby teeth of an infant or child. The teeth most likely to be damaged are the upper front teeth. They are some of the first teeth to erupt and thus have the longest exposure time to the sugars in the bottle. The lower front teeth tend to be protected by the tongue as the child sucks on the nipple of the bottle or the breast.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is caused by frequent exposure of a child’s teeth for long periods of time to liquid containing sugars. When your baby falls asleep with:
• a bottle containing formula, milk or juice
• a pacifier dipped in honey
• while breast feeding
The liquid pools around the front teeth. During sleep, the bacteria living in every baby’s mouth, turns the milk sugar or other sugars to acid, which causes the decay.
Parents may not know there is a problem until serious damage has been done:
• Oral checks should be performed by parents to detect early signs of the disease.
• Brown spots along the gumline on your child’s teeth are signs which should alert you.
• If your child prefers soft foods, frowns or cries when eating cold, sweet, or hard foods, they should be checked for tooth decay.
By the time tooth decay is noticed it may be too late and crowns, pulp therapy, or even extraction of the decayed teeth may be necessary. As a result, your child may suffer from long term disorders, which include speech impediments, possible psychological damage, crooked or crowded teeth, and poor oral health.
• You can prevent this from happening to your child’s teeth by learning how to protect them.
• clean your child’s teeth daily
• never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle filled with juice, milk, or formula (or when awake, sip on it for long periods of time as a pacifier)
• start bottle weaning by at least a year
• give your child plain water for thirst
• make sure your child gets the fluoride needed to prevent decay
• have regular dental visits for your child beginning when their first tooth erupts
TIP : Cut back on sugary bottles by gradually watering them down until they are only water.
Most children begin life with strong, healthy teeth. Help your child’s teeth stay that way. Your newborn is totally dependent upon you as a parent. The decisions you make will have a vital effect on your child’s dental future.
SHOULD I CLEAN MY BABY’S TEETH?
Definitely. Even before the first tooth appears, use a soft, clean cloth to wipe your baby’s gums and cheeks after feeding. As soon as the first tooth appears, begin using a small, soft bristled tooth brush to clean the tooth after eating. Don’t cover the brush with toothpaste. Young children tend to swallow most of the toothpaste, and swallowing too much fluoridated toothpaste can cause permanent spots on their teeth called dental fluorosis.
I FIND BRUSHING MY CHILD’S TEETH AWKWARD. ANY SUGGESTIONS?
Try having your child lie down. Put your child on your lap or on the floor, keeping his/her head steady with your legs. If your child is standing, have his/her back to you with their head tilted slightly and resting against your body. Have your child hold a mirror while you brush and floss their teeth so your child can see what is being done.
IS IT IMPORTANT TO BRUSH BEFORE BED?
Yes. If you have to miss a brushing, the bedtime one is probably the worst one to miss. If you don’t get rid of the bacteria and sugar that cause cavities, they have all night to do harm. While you are awake, saliva helps keep the mouth clean. When you are asleep, there is less saliva produced to clean the mouth. For this reason it is important to brush before bedtime.
HOW TO BRUSH YOUR CHILD’S TEETH?
Every day plaque forms on the inner, outer, and chewing surface of teeth and the gums. Tooth brushing is one of the most effective ways to remove the plaque. The best kind of toothbrush to use is one with soft, round-tipped bristles. A child will need a smaller brush than an adult. Young children do not have the manual dexterity to brush properly. Your child will need your supervision and help brushing until he or she is 8-10 years old to ensure a thorough brushing has been done. When the bristles become bent or frayed, a new brush is needed. Start flossing your child’s teeth when the teeth touch each other and you can no longer brush in between them.