The first year as a parent is one of the most exciting times in anyone's life. It's easy to see why many times people forget that when the first tooth comes in, a lifetime of oral health is just beginning. Those early days, months, and years help to build a solid foundation of healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Our focus at Palos Pediatric Dentistry, PC is to start with healthy habits from the beginning, so that all children can enjoy a lifetime of oral health.
Don't overlook finding a dentist who is specially trained to care for your young child's unique dental needs. Richard Facko, DDS, is an American Board Certified Pediatric Dentist and is excited to share with you some tips to keep your baby's teeth healthy!
- When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?
- What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?
- Are baby teeth really that important to my child?
- Are thumbsucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child's teeth?
- How can I prevent decay caused by nursing?
- Toothpaste: when should we begin using it and how much should we use?
- How do I make my child's diet safe for his teeth?
When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?
We recommend a child's first dental visit by their first birthday. While many parents can't imagine what a dentist could possibly do with an infant, we strongly believe that this is one of the most important dental visits in your child's life. During this first visit, in addition to addressing any specific concerns you may have, we will:
- Clean your baby's teeth (at this age, a thorough toothbrush cleaning is sufficient)
- Examine your baby's mouth, and provide information about dental development
- Apply fluoride, a protective coating to help prevent cavities Demonstrate how to properly clean your baby's teeth and gums
- Discuss your baby's dietary habits- it's much easier to start off with a tooth-healthy diet than to have to make changes late
- Provide information about what to expect with your baby's dental development in the future
- Discuss trauma prevention, and what to do in case of an emergency If we start early and establish good habits at home, we can avoid problems in the future, ensuring that your child grows up with positive dental experiences and saving money on expensive dental treatment!
What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?
While some families choose to bring their babies and infants to their family doctor, the majority prefer that their child sees someone who specializes in health care for children. Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. We are sensitive to the unique needs of children, and our practice is limited to children and adolescents. A pediatric dentist has two to three years of specialty training following dental school, including advanced training for children with special healthcare needs and with extensive dental needs.
Are baby teeth really that important to my child?
Your child's "baby" teeth are very important! They help your child speak clearly and chew nutritious foods. Primary teeth also provide a path for permanent teeth to follow when they erupt. Studies show that children with healthy teeth are more likely to grow up into adults with healthy teeth.
Are thumbsucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child's teeth?
The "dentist" answer is that thumbsucking and pacifier habits should cease by a child's first birthday. Our answer as parents ourselves is that there isn't much that can be done at three years old, particularly for children with thumb and finger sucking habits. We generally recommend stopping pacifier use by three years old, unless a child begins sucking a thumb as a replacement for the pacifier. Prolonged sucking habits result in problems that are usually easily fixed with braces or other appliances. Our approach to sucking habits is based on each individual, and we would be happy to discuss your child's habit with you.
How can I prevent decay caused by nursing?
Nursing a baby to sleep is natural, but as your child gets older it may become problematic. By your child's first birthday, we recommend that you stop nursing when your child wakes up in the middle of the night. Nursing your child to sleep or feeding during the night may allow the last sip of milk to sit on your child's teeth for hours. If your baby wakes at night, switching to a bottle with water in it may also help deter your child from waking up, since it isnt as appealing to them, and could result in more restful sleep for you and your baby in the long run.
Toothpaste: when should we begin using it and how much should we use?
Fluoride toothpaste is safe for ALL children, and should be used as soon as the first tooth begins to erupt! Use a "smear" of toothpaste to brush the teeth of a child under two years old. This means, if you turn the brush sideways, you don't really see a "lump" of toothpaste; just enough to cover the tips of the bristles. After the second birthday, dispense a "pea-size" amount of toothpaste and perform or assist your child's toothbrushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively. It is expected that young children will likely swallow all of the toothpaste that is on their brush, and it is safe to swallow toothpaste in the amounts mentioned. Please keep the fun-flavored toothpaste out of your child's reach to prevent accidental ingestion.