One of the finest and longest lasting gifts you can give your child is a gift of good dental care beginning at infancy. At that time, when your child is most vulnerable, taking certain positive actions will help insure a lifetime of good, strong, functional teeth which will end up needing a minimum of dental treatment as an adult. In fact, our goal for all children in our practice (using good hygiene, diet, sealants and fluoride) is to get them through age 18 without any fillings in their permanent teeth. According to statistics, kids with no fillings in their teeth at age 18 are extremely unlikely to need any restorative dentistry (crowns, etc.) for the rest of their lives. This can save them thousands of dollars and countless hours as adults.
Following are tips that will help them get started towards this goal:
· Use a wet, thin terrycloth washcloth or a small gauze pad to gently clean your infant’s gums after feeding, even before their baby teeth have erupted. As the baby teeth emerge, continue to use the same technique to clean the tops, front and back of the teeth and the gums where the teeth are erupting. Since your child will most likely close his/her lips around a toothbrush you will not be able to see what you are doing using a brush, but can easily feel what you are doing with your cloth covered finger.
· Once all the baby teeth have erupted (20), you can start brushing their teeth with a child sized toothbrush, but use a minimum of toothpaste (they will swallow it!)
· If you give your child a bottle in his/her crib, use only water in the bottle. Milk or juice will coat the teeth during sleep, cause massive decay, and create huge problems for your child!
· Make sure your infant gets the proper levels of fluoride either from drinking water or from a fluoride vitamin supplement (your pediatrician or I can write you the proper prescription).
· Visit us for treatment for your toddler at around the age of 2 ½ -3. We will perform an examination, check his/her dental development, review home care and diet, and do a cleaning. We want their first visits to the dentist to be fun and prevention oriented, certainly not treatment oriented. We don’t want to be “putting out any fires” at their first visit. Remember we are trying to create for them a solid foundation of positive attitudes towards dentistry.
· Once the baby teeth are erupted you should be flossing their teeth each night. It is so important that your child begins to be socialized to flossing right from the start, i.e., we want them to automatically assume that at bedtime, people have a story read to them, brush their teeth, and mom or dad does “something with some string”. It may not even be so important to floss every space, just try to floss one or two spaces per arch at a minimum. But do it every night. Years from now, when mom or dad are not there, they will automatically have good feelings about brushing and flossing their teeth before bed. This is just so much easier than trying to introduce flossing for the first time to a rebellious teenager or self sufficient adult.
If you have any questions about the use of fluorides or the care of infant/toddler teeth please feel free to contact me or my staff at 248-356-8790. Also, be sure to call our office in Southfield begin_of_the_skype_highlighting to arrange for an appointment for your infant or toddler. Make sure your child enjoys the benefits of superior dental health right from the beginning! It is a gift that will keep on giving long after you are gone!
So until next time,
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD