From Teething to Toddlers: What you should know about early dental care.

By Dr. Elizabeth Fleming
January 15, 2014
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Congratulations on your new baby!  Develop good practices for your child’s oral health now, for your baby’s dental future.  Your child’s teeth began to develop in utero, and will continue this process long before any teeth will erupt.  The use of systemic fluoride can strengthen your baby’s teeth, while they develop, to make them less cavity-prone.  A small amount of fluoride exposure is good at this stage, and is probably available in your city water.  Do you drink city water?  It is an easy way to get the added fluoride protection for your baby’s teeth. In the Phoenix water supply, there is .7mg/L of fluoride in the water, as is recommended by the EPA. If your child uses bottled water for drinking and in with formula, you may be able to request bottled water with fluoride added.

At age 6 months, you can request a prescription from your pediatrician or dentist for vitamins with fluoride, if your child is not utilizing fluoridated water.  A little fluoride exposure is good for cavity protection, but a lot of fluoride can cause problems such as fluorosis. American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry – AAPD Publications The optimum exposure is .7mg/L up to 1.2mg/L.  Supplementation can be given daily from age 6 months to 16 years for this added cavity protection in the formative years. Fluoride and Water

As your child begins teething, around 6 months of age, you should use a moistened washcloth to rub on the gums, which may be swollen and sore.  Drooling may increase, and your baby may get comfort by chewing on objects, their fingers, or a chilled teething ring.  Try to avoid teething biscuits which may contain sugar, and could decay newly erupted teeth.

If you put your child to bed with a bottle, make sure it is water only! When babies fall asleep with the bottle nipple clasped between their teeth, sugars from any liquids other than water can pool on the teeth and cause a syndrome called nursing bottle decay. Baby Bottle Tooth Decay or Nursing Bottle Syndrome – Oral Health For All

Once teeth start to erupt, the teething process will occur off and on from age 6 months to 2 years of age, until all 20 baby teeth erupt.  During this time, incorporate brushing your child’s teeth 2 times/day with plain water.  For kids over age 2, use a pea sized amount of toothpaste twice daily. Most kids cannot do an adequate job of brushing their teeth before age 5, so your supervision is necessary.

If you see discoloration, staining, or what looks like decay on your child’s newly erupted baby teeth, you may need to take your child to a pedodontist, who specializes in children’s dental health.  If no immediate problems are seen by you while brushing your child’s teeth regularly, we recommend that children be seen for their first dental visit between the ages of 2-3.  We invite you to call our office to see if we are the right dental practice for you and your family!

Elizabeth J Fleming, DDS and staff at Desert Ridge Smiles  480-860-4300