Baby Dentistry: Teething and Other Joys
It’s easy to think that baby teeth aren’t that important. They make their grand entrance (however painfully) and leave your baby’s mouth soon thereafter. But your baby’s oral health is very important today and to set the stage for a lifetime of health. Today, Neighborhood Smiles would like to discuss those tiny teeth and how to take care of your baby’s oral health.
- Teething begins anywhere from 3-9 months and can continue until your child is 3 years old. Every baby is different.
- Teeth emerge in a consistent pattern: lower 2 front incisors; upper 2 front incisors and 2 additional lower incisors; first set of molars; canines; then second molars.
- One reason we get baby teeth is that our baby mouths aren’t big enough for the size and number of adult teeth we need later in life.
- Babies have 20 teeth that fall out. They are then replaced by 32 adult teeth.
- Chewing on a cold, wet washcloth, extra snuggles, and a little pain-relieving medicine are certain to help ease the pain of teething.
- Contrary to popular belief, teething is not proven to cause sickness like diarrhea, fever, or a runny nose.
- Children should see the dentist as soon as their first baby teeth start coming in.
Taking Care of Baby Teeth
- Breastfeeding: According to a recent study, babies that exclusively breastfed for at least six months have a 72% less chance of developing an improper bite. Breastfeeding also reduces your child’s risk of baby bottle tooth decay and cavities.
- Baby Bottle Tooth Decay: Overexposure to sugar in the liquids your baby drinks can cause early tooth decay, which is when the important, hard enamel cover on your teeth breaks down. Enamel never grows back, so it’s very important to protect. Avoid baby tooth decay by only using formula and breast milk in your child’s bottle, not putting honey or sugar on their pacifiers, and not letting them fall asleep drinking from the bottle.
- Cleaning: “Welcome to earth! Now, let me wash your gums.” It may seem silly, but you’re actually supposed to wash your baby’s gums from the first day they are born. Use a clean washcloth and water, and maintain the habit as all the baby teeth start coming in. Fluoride toothpaste is recommended after your child turns 3. Fluoride-free toothpaste or “training toothpaste” is popular for kids under 3.
- Thumbs and Pacifiers: Talk with your dentist about thumb sucking and pacifier use. Usually, both are fine until babies become little children. However, they can increase your child’s risk of tooth decay, jaw misalignment, and an improper bite. Consider weaning off either of these habits depending on what your dentist recommends.
- Insurance for Pediatric Dental Care: Most states cover dental visits for children on governmental support. And most dental offices have flexible payment plans[LINK] to help everyone prioritize oral health for the whole family. Don’t let finances hold you back from keeping your baby as healthy as possible—feel free to reach out to us, we’re happy to help.
Dr. Ochsner in Onalaska is a professional dentist who cares for baby teeth and pediatric oral health. Once your baby’s first tooth has emerged, it’s very important to begin a regular dental care routine. Visit Neighborhood Smiles by calling us today to make an appointment. We’d love to see your little bundle of joy smile.