Infant Oral Care
When your baby is born in Jersey City, you might not think much about infant oral care. There aren’t any teeth in that sweet gummy grin, after all. But good oral care needs to start early, as it paves the way for a lifetime of healthy dental habits.
Pediatric dentists are specially trained to work with children. They make both you and your child feel comfortable every time you go in for an appointment. When you visit the Dr. Mila Cohen, professional teeth cleanings and checkups are a breeze, and in between visits, you can do your part to keep your child’s smile healthy and strong.
An Eruption of Pearly Whites
Although babies are occasionally born with a tooth or two that have already broken through the gums, the eruption of baby teeth doesn’t usually happen until around six months of age. The teething process can start a few weeks earlier, and that’s when you’re likely to see increased fussiness and drooling, as those tiny new teeth press against the gums in their quest to be free. Use all those little bibs you bought to keep baby’s clothes from getting soaked by the excess saliva. It doesn’t hurt to keep a soft cloth handy as well, to keep his cheeks and chin dry.
By the time your baby’s first molars appear at around three years of age, you may be asking yourself how many teeth do kids have? Your child will have a total of 20 baby (or primary) teeth. This baby teeth chart shows the approximate time you can expect to see them all appear.
Baby teeth start falling out to make room for permanent teeth at around age six, and your child will keep losing teeth until he’s about 12 years old. By the time he’s 21, according to Dr. Mila Cohen, he’ll have all 32 of his permanent teeth, including his wisdom teeth.
Even before your baby’s teeth erupt, it’s a good idea to start cleaning his gums with a soft cloth. This helps him get used to the feeling of having his teeth and gums cleaned. Once his teeth are in, the idea of having them brushed isn’t so foreign.
You can clean baby’s gums as part of his bathing routine. Just wrap a clean piece of gauze or a soft washcloth around your index finger, dampen it with clean water — no toothpaste — and gently wipe his gums. Don’t be surprised if he tries to gnaw on it, especially when those teeth are close to coming through!
Dr. Mila Cohen will warn you against letting your infant fall asleep with a bottle in his mouth, as the sugars in liquids like formula, juice and breast milk can pool behind his emerging teeth and cause tooth decay. This is known as bottle mouth.
When baby’s teeth are erupting, it’s time to start using a toothbrush twice a day. Look for a toothbrush made for infant oral care, with very soft bristles and a handle that’s easy for you to grasp. From now until the time your child is three years old, use only a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste — just a smear, the size of a grain of rice. That’s sufficient to get your infant’s teeth clean, and ensures that he doesn’t get too much fluoride in his mouth. Excess fluoride can lead to a condition called fluorosis, which creates white spots on permanent teeth.
To clean those precious first teeth, dampen the toothbrush and apply a tiny bit of toothpaste to the bristles. Gently brush the front, back, top, and sides of each tooth. You don’t need to worry about rinsing, since you’re using such a small amount of toothpaste. It’s likely that your child will try to chew on the toothbrush, so replace the toothbrush when the bristles become visibly frayed. Frayed toothbrushes don’t clean teeth effectively.
As your child gets older, he’ll probably show interest in wanting to hold the toothbrush and cleaning his teeth by himself. Most kids need help until at least age six, especially when it comes to reaching the molars. Brush his teeth thoroughly first, and then let him do it by himself. Flossing isn’t necessary or recommended until the sides of the teeth start touching each other.
If you ask yourself, “What’s the best toothpaste for my child?” — the answer is one that’s made specifically for children. These have a lower concentration of fluoride. Look for one with between 250 and 600 parts per million (ppm). Children’s toothpastes often come in milder flavors, such as bubblegum or fruit, which can be helpful if your child don’t like a strong mint taste. It’s more important that he brushes his teeth, rather than forcing flavors on him that he doesn’t like.
Brushing your infant’s teeth every day is a great way to help prevent dental problems, but infant oral care doesn’t stop there. Make an appointment with a dentist when your child is six months old for an initial checkup. Regular checkups and cleanings help keep your child’s teeth healthy and establish trust so that dental care never becomes something your child fears.
As your infant grows, the kids dentist in JC cleans his teeth, applies any fluoride treatments or dental sealants and teaches general oral care. Regular visits ensure that any decay or other problems can be caught and treated early, helping to avoid unnecessary pain or discomfort for your child.
Dentists usually recommend that infants and children have checkups and cleanings every six months throughout childhood, although more frequent visits may be needed if your childrens dentist is addressing specific problems. No matter how often your child needs to be seen, establishing a dental home with your dentist in JC helps ensure that your child’s oral care needs are being met by a professional who knows and cares about your child And that’s as important as just about anything else.