Early oral care makes a considerable difference in the overall health of children. It is recommended to start dental visits no later than the first year of life. Early evaluations by a pediatric dentist can identify problems before they cause considerable problems for your child.
Proper oral care starts from the moment your child is born. Keeping their teeth and gums clean can minimize the instance of tooth decay and gum irritation. Before your baby has teeth, use a clean, damp cloth to wipe their gums to remove milk or food residue. This should be done twice daily. Once your child gets teeth, you will need to brush their teeth in addition to wiping their gums. You should use a specialty toothbrush designed for babies because it is small and has extra-soft bristles to minimize the chance of gum irritation.
As your child grows older and has more teeth, oral care will need to be more comprehensive. Once your child is a year old, or earlier in some cases, they can have their first appointment and the dentist can recommend the appropriate in-office treatments and oral care products for use at home. Generally, around two years old, you can begin using toothpaste during your child's oral care routine. They will need specialty products designed to be safe if swallowed, although you should teach your child to spit out their toothpaste to prevent indigestion. Around this time your dentist will likely recommend toothpaste containing fluoride to reduce the instance of tooth decay.
Early dental visits can help your dentist identify lifestyle issues that could become problematic for your child. One problem is many parents allow their baby to go to bed with juice or other sweets in their bottle. Unfortunately, this allows sugar to sit on the teeth and can lead to extensive decay of their baby teeth. Around a year old, it is recommended your baby no longer takes a bottle to bed, especially a bottle containing juice or milk.
Another concern is a child that sucks their fingers or a pacifier for an extended time. Unfortunately, when it nears time for their first adult teeth to erupt, sucking on their fingers or a pacifier can actually cause the permanent teeth in the front of the mouth to grow in crooked. The front teeth will generally come in pushed forward. When the teeth do not come in correctly, it can contribute to speech impediments. Once the teeth begin to erupt in an abnormal position, the only way it can be corrected is through braces.
Early dental visits for children should be considered part of an overall wellness plan. Catching dental problems early can reduce the incidence of decay or the need for orthodontic treatments later.
Contact a local pediatric dentistry service to learn more.