Early Dental CareNormally the first tooth erupts between ages 6 to 12 months. Gums are sore, tender and sometimes irritable until the age of 3. 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.

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. 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.

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. Without a maintainer, the teeth can tilt toward the empty space and cause permanent teeth to come in crooked. 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 check-ups.

A child’s first dental visit should be scheduled around his/her first 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.
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 guide eruption of the permanent 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.
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).

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. Our office is dedicated to fighting baby bottle tooth decay. Let us know if you notice any signs of decay or anything unusual in your child’s mouth.

Early Dental Care

toy chestRegular dental checkups are an important part of oral health.  Early dental care for infants and children is especially important, as this sets the foundation for healthy teeth and development in the years to come.

We have been taking care of your children for over 40 years.  We will make sure your childs initial dental experiences are pleasant.  Our licensed hygienists will clean and polish their teeth.  They will also show your child how to properly take care of their teeth between office cleanings.  Our dentists will check for cavities and proper arch development that could be affected by parafunctional habits such as thumb sucking.  At the end of their visit your child gets to visit the “Toy Chest” to choose a toy to go home.  Rest assured we are here to help your child look forward to their dental visits.

Thumb Sucking

Sucking is a natural reflex that relaxes and comforts babies and toddlers.  Children usually cease thumb sucking when the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt.  Typically, children stop between the ages of 2 and 4 years.  Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of primary teeth can cause improper growth of the mouth and misalignment of the teeth.  If you notice prolonged and/or vigorous thumb sucking behavior in your child, talk to your dentist.

Here are some ways to help your child outgrow thumb sucking:

  • Don’t scold a child when they exhibit thumb sucking behavior; instead, praise them when they don’t suck his or her thumb.
  • Focus on eliminating the cause of anxiety – thumb sucking is a comfort device that helps children cope with stress or discomfort.
  • Praise them when they refrain from the habit during difficult periods.
  • Place a bandage on the thumb or a sock on their hand at night.

Baby’s First Dental Visit

At Knollwood Dental Group, we recommend that a child’s first dental exam occur around his or her 2nd birthday.  Most of the exam will be focused on making the child feel comfortable at the dentist office and meeting the doctor.  Regular dental visits throughout early childhood will help a child feel more at ease when visiting the dentist, and may help prevent nerves or fears from arising.

Infant Teeth

A baby typically begins teething around 6 months of age, as the primary “baby” teeth begin to emerge.  This causes some discomfort and soreness for the child.  To soothe the pain, we recommend using the back of a cold spoon or a clean fingertip to gently rub the gums.  Teething rings can also be used as these allow the baby to chew the ring when necessary to ease their discomfort.

Preventing Baby Bottle Decay

As an infant’s teeth continue to come in, one potential risk is tooth decay and damage caused from baby bottle decay.  As children nurse or drink milk, formula, or other liquids from a bottle, this often soothes them to sleep.  Sugars from these liquids left in the mouth can interact with dental plaque bacteria, forming harmful acids which can decay the teeth.  While sleeping, saliva production in the mouth slows dramatically, allowing the liquids to sit and spread within the child’s mouth.  It is recommended that infants who use a bottle to fall asleep should only be given water to drink before naps or bedtime.

To check for signs of baby bottle decay, you can visually examine your child’s teeth at home.  Take a look on the underside of the teeth and check for lines or spots that appear whiter than the rest of the teeth.  If you observe any unusual changes or signs of decay, please call us at Knollwood.

Growing Childhood Teeth

As your family dentist, the Knollwood doctors will monitor your child’s dental progress through the years.  As a child reaches the age of 6 or 7, the primary “baby” teeth begin to grow loose and fall out, making room for the permanent, “adult” teeth to emerge.  It is important that the secondary teeth come in as correctly as possible, without crookedness or problems.  The primary teeth help guide the secondary teeth into place, but if a child loses teeth early, it may be necessary to use a space maintainer, to assist the new teeth to come in in the proper place and at the correct angles.

As children continue to grow, those regular dental exams will be very important.  But equally important is good at-home dental hygiene.  The habits of brushing and flossing that children develop in early years will stick with them into adulthood, helping prevent future problems and keeping teeth beautiful.

We have been taking care of your children for over 40 years.  We will make sure your childs initial dental experiences are pleasant.  Our licensed hygienists will clean and polish their teeth.  They will also show your child how to properly take care of their teeth between office cleanings.  Our dentists will check for cavities and proper arch development that could be affected by parafunctional habits such as thumb sucking.  At the end of their visit your child gets to visit the “Toy Chest” to choose a toy to go home.  Rest assured we are here to help your child look forward to their dental visits.