Good dental health is established early in life, and it's really never too soon to start caring for your child's teeth and gums. Did you know that babies in utero have about 20 teeth already developing? It's true: correct dental hygiene early on can have a very positive effect on your child's dental health.
Before Your Baby is Even Born
Expecting a baby? Congratulations! You've probably been told again and again to take good care of yourself. It's sound advice.
In fact, practicing careful, personal oral hygiene can translate into a healthier mouth for your baby. Did you know that by the sixth week of pregnancy, your baby's teeth are already starting to form? Remarkably, there are signs of permanent tooth buds by a baby's fourth month in utero.
So you need to be aware that poor nutritional habits or use of tetracycline medications may cause your infant's baby and permanent teeth to be discolored, damaged, or even misshappen.
It's important, then, that expectant moms eat balanced meals, be fully aware of medication treatments, and get lots of rest.
When your baby is about six months old, you'll probably see a first tooth, a lower front incisor. Sometimes teething begins as early as three or four months. But it can start as late as a year.
Even though they'll eventually fall out, primary teeth can get cavities and may need to be treated. They
serve as space maintainers for permanent teeth.
Primary teeth prematurely lost can lead to problems with permanent teeth, speech, and jaw structure.
Babies get plaque, too, and their teeth should be wiped with a clean washcloth.
Thumbsucking is usually harmless for babies and toddlers, but can present a problem with tooth positioning after permanent teeth erupt.
Parents, you'll want to see if the water in your area is fluoridated. If it's not, contact us about other kinds of fluoride protection like tablets or rinses.
Babies shouldn't fall asleep with bottles in their mouths -- the sugar in juices or milk formulas can cause tooth decay, leading to cavities, dental discomfort, and even tooth loss. Plain water, especially if it's fluoridated, is usually best.
Some parents worry that if their infants use pacifiers, tooth problems are sure to follow. Not necessarily.
There are some safety considerations to consider if you decide to use a pacifier.
- Never tie a pacifier around a baby's neck -- the cord
may choke or strangle an infant.
- Use only commercial pacifiers that are one-piece,
too large to be swallowed, and feature mouthguards with two, large ventilation holes.
- Watch for breaks in the nipple. The end may break
off and your baby may swallow it. If you find rips in a pacifier or nipple,
throw it out immediately.
Dental Health Tips
You want your children to have the healthiest mouths possible, so we're providing some tips to help you
reach that goal:
- Seek early dental care for your young one.
- Begin oral hygiene when an infant's first tooth emerges.
- Encourage good oral health and hygiene habits early.
- Have youngsters brush frequently with fluoride paste.
- Drink fluoridated water.
- Snack in moderation and include beverages to wash the mouth of food particles.
- Set regular snack-times to avoid constant exposure to cavity-causing foods.
The Dental Office of Drs. Paskerian and McMaster in Framingham, MA,
have graciously allowed us to reprint these articles.
website:The Doctors virtual office
Dr. Paskerian D.M.D., M.A.G.D., F.I.C.D.
Dr. Paskerian has taught at Harvard University and Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. He has attained a Mastership in the Academy of General Dentistry, and is among a select group of dentists nationwide who have been awarded the prestigious honor of Fellow in the International College of Dentists.
Dr. McMaster D.M.D., M.A.G.D., C.B.G.D.
Dr. McMaster is a diplomate of the Certifying Board of General Dentistry, and has attained a Mastership in the Academy of General Dentistry. He is a published researcher in the field of prosthetic dentistry and currently teaches clinical restorative dentistry at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.
The doctors are graduates of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.
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