Oral care for infants: What is really necessary?
Posted by DENTAL HEALTH PC on Feb 11 2021, 10:06 AM
Oral care for infants has two main elements: preventative care at home and preventative care at the pediatric dentist's office. Cavities and tooth decay in infants and toddlers have become more prevalent in recent years. However, it is essential to keep baby teeth clean and healthy because they hold spaces open for the permanent teeth to come in. Therefore, a good dental strategy is required to eradicate the risk of cavities and decay in infants.
Preventative oral care thus focuses on examining and preserving the health of the child's teeth. It is important to care for your child's teeth and dental health at home from their birth. American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that children should have their first pediatric dentist visit for checkups when they are twelve months old and continue to visit the dentist every six months unless instructed otherwise.
Dental care at pediatric dentist's office
During the routine dental checkups, the pediatric dentist examines your child's teeth for signs of early decay, monitors orthodontic concerns, and tracks tooth development. Besides, the pediatric dentist will advise the parents with necessary measures to reduce further the child's risk for dental problems, such as topical fluoride and dental sealants.
The pediatric dentist will examine the child's mouth and clean the teeth, and will coat topical fluoride onto the teeth to protect tooth enamel if needed. He will also address your parental concerns, if any, and will help you with good brushing and flossing techniques, advise parents on dietary issues, and provide strategies for thumb sucking habits and pacifier cessation.
When molars emerge, the pediatric dentist may coat them with a dental sealant that covers the hard-to-reach fissures, sealing out bacteria, food particles, and acid.
How can parents help their kids at home?
The following practices are recommended to be followed at home by parents to ensure that their kids' oral and dental health is properly taken care of. Most parents think only of brushing and flossing when they hear the words "oral care." However, preventative dental care includes many more factors, that includes the following:
- Diet: A nourishing, well-balanced diet is one of the basic steps to have a healthy set of teeth. Very sugary diets and frequent snacking should be discouraged. Oral bacteria ingest the sugar particles in the child's mouth, emitting harmful acids that erode tooth enamel, gum tissue, and bone.
- Oral habits: The use of pacifiers and thumb-sucking habits can lead to the misalignment of teeth. If your child must use a pacifier, opting for an "orthodontically" correct model will reduce the risk of developmental problems like narrow roof arches and crowding.
- General oral hygiene:It is important not to share eating utensils with your child. Also, never clean pacifiers and teething toys by sucking on them as these acts will transfer harmful oral bacteria to their child, increasing the risk of cavities and tooth decay. Clean the toys and pacifiers by rinsing warm water, and avoid spoon-sharing if possible.
- Sippy cup use: Though sippy cups can help in the transition from their usage of a baby bottle to an adult drinking glass, sippy cups filled with milk, breast milk, soda, juice, and sweetened water can cause small amounts of sugary fluid to continually swill around young teeth. This can increase the risks of developing tooth decay in infants. It is advisable to stop using sippy cups between the ages of twelve and fourteen months or as soon as the child develops the motor skills to hold a drinking glass.
- Brushing:Same as adults, it is mandatory to brush the child's teeth a minimum of two times per day using a soft-bristled brush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Parents should help the child with the brushing process until the child reaches the age of seven and is capable of reaching all areas of the mouth. Opt for ADA approved toothpaste that is non-fluoridated before the age of two and fluoridated thereafter. For babies, rub the gum area with a moistened, clean cloth after each feeding.
- Flossing:Flossing can help prevent the risk of cavities and tooth decay that forms between teeth. Your pediatric dentist can help you with correct head positioning during the flossing process.
- Fluoride: Fluoride helps prevent mineral loss and promotes the remineralization of tooth enamel. When lack of enough fluoride can result in tooth decay, too much of it can lead to fluorosis, a condition where white specks appear on the permanent teeth. Ask your pediatric dentist to help you with getting the fluoride balance correct.
Your child should be taken to a pediatric dentist when he or she is one year old. This should be followed with regular "happy teeth" checkups to make sure the teeth stay healthy.
If you have any doubts or questions regarding infant dental care, call us or schedule an appointment online.