Early Dental Care
Dr. Jeff Hibbard specializes in treating patients of all ages. Look no farther than our Clovis, CA dental office for affordable and advanced dental treatment. Below is a detailed list of what you should know about your child's incoming teeth.
Normally the first tooth erupts between ages 6 to 12 months. Gums are sore, tender and sometimes irritable until the age of 3. While your baby is teething, it is important to monitor the teeth for signs of baby bottle decay. Examine the teeth, especially on the inside or the tongue side, every two weeks for dull spots (whiter than the tooth surface) or lines.
A bottle containing anything other than water and left in an infant's mouth while sleeping can cause decay. This happens because sugar in the liquid mixes with bacteria in dental plaque, forming acids that attack the tooth enamel. Read more on bottle tooth decay below.
Teething Tips For Infants
According to the American Association of Dental care, here are a few good tricks to help soothe a teething baby:
- Gently rubbing your child's gum with a clean finger, a small, cool spoon or a wet gauze pad can be soothing.
- A clean teething ring for your child to chew on may also help.
- Your dentist or pediatrician may recommend a pacifier, teething ring or a special "numbing" salve for the gums.
- When the teeth begin to erupt, brush them with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a little bit of water to prevent tooth decay.
Infant's New Teeth
The primary, or "baby," teeth play a crucial role in dental development.
- Without them, a child cannot chew food properly and has difficulty speaking clearly.
- Primary teeth are vital to development of the jaws and for guiding the permanent (secondary) teeth into place when they replace the primary teeth around age 6.
- Since primary teeth guide the permanent teeth into place, infants with missing primary teeth or infants who prematurely lose primary teeth may require a space maintainer, a device used to hold the natural space open.
- Missing teeth should always be mentioned to your family dentist.
The way your child cares for his/her primary teeth plays a critical role in how he/she treats the permanent teeth. Children and adults are equally susceptible to plaque and gum problems—hence, the need for regular care and dental checkups. It is important to floss your child's teeth and brush them with a toothpaste containing xylitol.
A Child's First Dental Visit
A child's first dental visit should be scheduled around his/her third birthday. The most important part of the visit is getting to know and becoming comfortable with a doctor and his staff. A pleasant, comfortable first visit builds trust and helps put the child at ease during future dental visits. If possible, allow the child to sit in a parent's lap in the exam room. Children should be encouraged to discuss any fears or anxiety they feel.
Why Primary Teeth Are Important
Primary teeth are important for several reasons.
- Foremost, good teeth allow a child to eat and maintain good nutrition.
- Healthy teeth allow for clear pronunciation and speech habits.
- The self-image that healthy teeth give a child is immeasurable.
- Primary teeth also maintain space and guide eruption of the permanent teeth.
Good Diet and Healthy Teeth
The teeth, bones and soft tissue of the mouth require a healthy, well-balanced diet. A variety of foods from the five food groups helps minimize (and avoid) cavities and other dental problems. Most snacks that children eat cause cavities, so children should only receive healthy foods like vegetables, low-fat yogurt and cheeses, which promote strong teeth.
Infant Tooth Eruption
A child's teeth actually start forming before birth. As early as 4 months of age, the primary or "baby" teeth push through the gums—the lower central incisors are first, then the upper central incisors. The remainder of the 20 primary teeth typically erupt by age 3, but the place and order varies. Permanent teeth begin eruption around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until around age 21. Adults have 28 secondary (permanent) teeth—32 including the third molars (wisdom teeth).
Rubbing sore gums gently with a clean finger, the back of a cold spoon or a cold, wet cloth helps soothe the gums. Teething rings work well, but avoid teething biscuits—they contain sugar that is not good for baby teeth.
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. 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 acids.
Our office is dedicated to preventative dental care and fighting baby bottle tooth decay. Contact us if you notice any signs of decay or anything unusual in your child's mouth and Dr. Hibbard will make sure your child has the proper dental care that they need.
Dr. Hibbard's office is conveniently located in Clovis, CA, but helps patients in Sanger, Fresno, and the surrounding areas.