Dr. Keck's New Parent Dental Tips
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Five Things Every New Parent Should Know About their Child’s Teeth
As a parent, I have wondered countless times why children don’t come with instruction manuals. While we might be waiting awhile for one of those, as a pediatric dentist I can provide you with a manual to make caring for your little one’s teeth easier. Now if only I had one of these simple checklists for preventing meltdowns at Wegmans, we would all be in good shape!
- Home Care
It is important to start implementing good oral health care immediately. Wipe your infants gums with a soft washcloth or towel after each feeding. The ADA recommends that you brush your baby’s teeth with a “grain of rice” sized amount of fluoride toothpaste as soon as they erupt. Brush your baby’s teeth with a soft baby sized toothbrush twice daily. Between the ages of 2-5 you can increase the amount of toothpaste to “pea size.” Flossing is also important and should be introduced very early, especially if your child does not have widely spaced teeth.
- Early Childhood Caries (EEC)
Early childhood caries, also known as baby bottle tooth decay, is the most common chronic disease of childhood. It is 5 times more common than asthma, 4 times more common than childhood obesity and 20 times more common than diabetes. It is a disease characterized by severe decay in the teeth of infants and toddlers. ECC is a significant public health problem, and one that plagues many children in our own communities here in Rochester. 28% of children have cavities by 5 years old. ECC requires extensive dental repair, often involving sedation or general anesthesia, and if left untreated has long lasting effects on a child’s overall health and development.
- Age 1 Dental Visit
The ADA and AAPD urge all parents to schedule their child’s first dental visit by age one, or no later than 6 months after the first tooth erupts. The first dental visit consists of an exam, tooth brushing, fluoride varnish application and anticipatory guidance, all done while the child sits on their parent’s lap. It is a great opportunity for parents to receive oral health education based on their child’s needs, stage of development and risk for oral health problems. As pediatric dentists, we have advanced training to help make this appointment relaxing, fun and educational for your little one.
- Night time bottle use
Unrestricted and at-will use of bottles and/or sippy cups at night should be strictly avoided. Putting a child to bed with formula, milk or juice is one of the most common causes of decay. Infants and toddlers should finish their bedtime and naptime bottles and then have their teeth brushed. Unrestricted, at-will breastfeeding throughout the night can also pose an increased risk for caries once the teeth have erupted.
Children should be encouraged to use a cup and transition from a bottle by age one. At will, frequent drinking from a sippy or training cup should be avoided. Except at meal time, only put water in a sippy cup. Grazing or chronic snacking throughout the day should be limited. The frequency that a child snacks is directly associated with their risk for decay. Avoiding carbohydrate rich snacks should also be encouraged. Older kids should limit their intake of soda, energy drinks and sports drinks. Helping your child make good eating habits at a young age is something that will benefit them always.
Lindsey Keck, DDS
Board Certified Pediatric Dentist
East Avenue Dentistry