Properly Caring for Your Baby's Mouth
Even though your infant may not have any teeth yet, it is still important to carefully monitor the health of their gums and soft mouth tissue. At Dentistry for Children, it is our mission is to help your child develop good dental hygiene that will set them on the path toward a lifetime of healthy smiles.
Infant's New Teeth
The primary ("baby") teeth play an important role in dental development. Without these teeth, a child cannot chew food properly or speak clearly. Primary teeth aid in the development of the jaws, and guide the permanent teeth into place when they replace the primary teeth around age 6.
Infants with missing baby or prematurely lost teeth may require a space maintainer to hold the natural space until the permanent tooth grows in. Without the space maintainer, the teeth can tilt toward the empty space and cause permanent teeth to crowd or even be blocked out. Children and adults are equally susceptible to plaque and gum problems, which is why it is important to establish good oral hygiene habits early and schedule regular dental check-ups.
Infant Tooth Eruption
A child's teeth begin to form before birth, and primary teeth can begin to push through the gums as early as 4 months of age. First to grow in are the lower central incisors followed by the upper central incisors. The remaining 20 primary teeth typically erupt around age 3, but the place and order varies.
Teething & Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
An infant's first teeth begin to erupt between the ages of 6 to 12 months. During this time, gums are sore, tender and sometimes irritated until the age of 3. You can help to sooth your baby's discomfort by gently rubbing sore gums with:
- a clean finger
- the back of a cold spoon
- a cold, wet wash cloth
Teething rings are also a great option for sore gums. Teething biscuits are also a good option, but proper care should be taken to brush well after use since they contain sugar.
While your baby is teething, it is important to monitor the teeth for signs of baby bottle tooth decay. Be sure to examine the teeth, especially on the inside/tongue side every two weeks for dull spots (whiter than the tooth surface) or lines. A bottle filled with anything but water that is left in an infant's mouth while sleeping can cause decay. The sugar in the liquid mixes with bacteria in dental plaque, which forms acid that attacks the tooth enamel. Each time a child drinks liquids containing sugar, acids attack the teeth for about 20 minutes - when awake, saliva carries away the liquid. During sleep, the saliva flow significantly decreases and liquids pool around the child's teeth for long periods, covering the teeth in harmful acids.
Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Tooth decay in infants can be minimized, or totally prevented, by not allowing sleeping infants to breast or bottle-feed. Infants that need a bottle to comfortably fall asleep should be given a water-filled bottle or a pacifier. Our office is dedicated to fighting baby bottle tooth decay. Let us know if you notice any signs of decay or anything unusual in your child's mouth.
Schedule Your Infant's First Oral Exam at Dentistry for Children
If you would like to schedule your baby's first dental visit with us, please contact us at our office. We are conveniently located in Montgomery, Alabama and are proud to provide service to Wetumpka, Prattville, Tallassee and the entire River Region. We look forward to meeting you and helping your child get off on the right start having a healthy smile for a lifetime.