As your infant’s first teeth emerge, it is time to begin a planned home dental care program. This program includes maintaining proper procedures for nursing your infant, as well as starting an effective program of daily oral hygiene.
Dental Care for Babies
Although teeth have not emerged at birth, except in unusual cases, it is important for the baby’s future dental health that correct nursing habits be established. In addition to nursing habits and oral hygiene, positive steps should be taken to provide a proper diet; prevent the establishment of damaging oral habits, such as thumb sucking; and provide a safe environment to assure your infant’s physical safety.
Caring For Your Baby’s Teeth
Nursing Your Infant
Nursing helps in the development of the facial muscles and bones of the jaws of the infant. As the primary teeth emerge, the muscles of the face and the shape of the jaws play an important role in their positioning, which in turn will affect the positioning of the permanent teeth, even though they will not appear in the mouth for another few years. Almost any liquid, except plain water, contains sugar, which can be converted into acid. This acid causes tooth decay known as nursing decay. The following item contain a large amount of sugar: Fruit juices, soda pop, formula, cow’s milk, and even mother’s breast milk.
Preventing Dental Decay
- Do not permit your child to nurse passively on the breast or bottle while sleeping.
- Your child should be weaned, and solid foods introduced to his/her diet, soon after the first birthday.
- If a bottle must be continued, fill it only with water.
- Brush your child’s teeth after the morning feeding and before bed time. A small soft bristled brush with a very small amount (pea sized) of tooth paste us recommended. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist for brushing instructions.
- Avoid feeding foods containing excessive amounts of sugar. Sweetened between-meal-snacks and drinks should be avoided. * * When sweets are given, they should be offered as desert, while the flow of saliva is still active and capable of providing some natural cleansing.
- For over 40 years, fluoride has been recognized for its decay-preventing qualities. There are three basic ways of bringing the benefits of fluoride to your child:
- fluoridated community water
- application of fluoride to the tooth’s surfaces
- fluoride taken orally
Thumb Sucking & Other Oral Habits
Thumb sucking and use of the pacifier are the most common forms of several sucking habits that affect the shape of the mouth and alignment of the teeth. As a general rule, a sucking habit should end by five years of age. If the habit is allowed to continue, damage to the alignment of the permanent teeth will occur.