Infant and Child Oral Health Care

Once an infant gets the first baby tooth in the mouth, it’s time to start brushing those delicate teeth. Infants should even see the dentist, which will help get them used to biannual dental visits as children, teens and adults. Cavities in infants and children are incredibly common. Use these tips to avoid oral health issues in your little ones so they can have great oral health!

Infants and Baby Teeth

Many infants will start getting the teeth during the first and second year, and should definitely have some teeth by age 3. Once one tooth is in the mouth, more will start to pop through. Studies show that most infants get the front two teeth first, then the bottom two teeth. The teeth next to the front ones come in next and so on through the back.  Infants will only have 20 total teeth because a child’s mouth is small. Those baby teeth will start to fall out around ages 5-8. In place of those teeth, you will start to see adult, permanent teeth fall into place.

An adult mouth will have a total of 32 teeth, which includes the 4 wisdom teeth that aren’t generally seen. The teeth will be larger and are meant to last for life with proper care. As your child gets their teeth, it becomes the responsibility of the parent or guardian to brush and floss those teeth until a child can begin to do those habits themself. That won’t be until around age 3 or so for most children.

Caring for the Baby Teeth

Did you know that cavities—known as “tooth decay—is the most “prevalent chronic disease” among children and adults, according to the National Institutes of Health? Caring for the baby teeth is simple, but so important:

  • Brush the baby tooth with either a gum brush (for small infants) or a baby toothbrush. Change the size of the toothbrush according to the size of the infant’s mouth.
  • Use ADA-approved toothpaste that is meant for children or babies.
  • With nursing or bottle-fed babies, use a damp cloth and gently wipe an infant’s gums right after a feeding to get excess sugars from the mouth.
  • Never dip a pacifier in honey, sugar or any other substance.
  • Floss the teeth (or use flossers for children) when more teeth start to come into the mouth side-by-side.
  • Brush at least twice a day or after meals. Adults should brush for at least 2 minutes. Infants and children may need less time than that.

Infant Dental Appointments

Dentists recommend that infants be seen in a dental office anywhere between 6 months and 3 years. Most infants will see a dentist at 18 months or at that 3-year mark. However, depending on infant chronic conditions or oral health issues, they may need a visit sooner. It’s always good to get your child started out with dental visits early, as this can help them to get used to visiting a dentist early-on.

Dental appointments for infants are not scary, but are very gentle and straight-forward. We practice general dentistry and family dentistry, meaning we see patients of all ages from the very young to the very old. Infant oral exams are fairly quick and painless and you can stay with your infant the entire time, even holding them if you want.

Services for Infants and Children

Because the baby teeth are so delicate, they can easily decay. This is especially true with baby bottle tooth decay. This is decay that most commonly happens in infants and it affects the front teeth (usually the upper ones). The American Heart Association reports that infants and children should have little to no added sugars in their day. Infants should not have candy, sodas or other sugary items at all because of what sugar does to the teeth.

When you eat or drink, sugars in your food mix with mouth bacteria to create plaque. That plaque is what sticks to the teeth, and the acid in it is what breaks up the minerals of the teeth, decaying them. When infants are put down for naps or for the night, continuous sucking on a bottle will continuously expose the baby teeth to sugars. The same is true with sugary drinks and sodas put in bottles, which should never happen. Very quickly, the baby teeth can start to turn gray and black from decay, causing early tooth loss and even problems with the adult teeth.

Avoid tooth decay by always brushing and flossing your baby’s teeth and avoid any sugary drinks. If dental services are needed, we can take digital x-rays in a safe way to detect decay. Laser dentistry is a pain-free option for infants that need cavities removed or for infants that have tongue or lip-ties. For cavities that keep happening, even very small children can get dental sealants to protect their teeth. Call for a consultation to see what we would specifically do for your infant based on age and oral health.

Your Oral Health

At Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies, we believe that it’s always better to prevent rather than to cure or repair. Not only do regular checkups and cleanings help protect against dental pain and disease, it protects the health of your wallet as well. If you would like more tips for infant oral care or if you need to schedule your infant or child’s comprehensive exam, call us today at (970) 223-8425!