Pediatric Dental Care
Ensure your child has healthy teeth and you can do that even before your baby is born!
Intervention to ensure the baby’s good health can begin when you are pregnant. A pregnant woman should drink tap water to bring fluoride ion to the developing fetus to make the teeth more cavity resistant. After birth, the infant should continue drinking fluoridated tap water as a supplement to breast milk or to dilute concentrated formula. If fluoridated water is unavailable, (Stamford water is fluoridated), fluoride supplement drops.
The primary or “baby” teeth begin to form at about 7 weeks in utero and usually appear when your baby is about 6-8 months old. The adult teeth also begin to form in utero, but the first adult teeth, the 6-year molars usually come into the mouth behind the baby molars when a child is about six or seven years old. The lower middle incisors are usually the first baby teeth to be lost and that usually occurs at about 6 1/2 to 7 years of age.
Teething is another concern, especially for first-time parents. As the teeth begin to push their way into the mouth, many babies tend to feel some discomfort. Also, the gum tissue might swell and become tender. The baby may be irritable and tend to drool. Often, just holding the baby might be enough to soothe and comfort. Teething rings or putting a clean, cool spoon on the gum may soothe the discomfort as well. Ask your dentist or pediatrician about commercial preparations and medicines that may be used to relieve teething discomfort. The good news is that teething symptoms will disappear once the teeth come into the mouth.
Never put your baby to bed with a bottle. In order to avoid “nursing bottle caries,” a condition that will rapidly decay the baby’s teeth, you must not put the baby to bed with a bottle. The milk, formula, juice, or almost any drink except plain water, contains sugar. At night, these sugary liquids tend to stay in the baby’s mouth rather than be swallowed. Bacteria in the mouth turn the sugar into acid, which decays the teeth.
When the teeth come into the mouth, they need to be cleaned daily. In an infant and toddler, this can be accomplished with a clean, damp, soft cloth. When the child is around age 2, you should start teaching your child how to use a toothbrush. Avoid using more than a very small drop of toothpaste until the child fully understands that toothpaste is to be spit out, not swallowed. Carefully supervise a child’s tooth brushing from age 2 until the child is about 8-9 years old. It is a good idea for an adult to actually brush the child’s teeth. Be sure to scrub the fissures or grooves on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Begin to floss your child’s teeth when the primary molars (back teeth) appear.
Children should begin visiting a dentist when they are 1-1/2 to 2 years old so that any possible problems or abnormalities can be detected early. Also, it provides an opportunity for child to learn that visiting the dentist to have their teeth counted and brushed is a positive experience.
Primary (baby) teeth
Primary teeth have a number of important functions and caring for baby teeth cannot be neglected
· Allow the child to properly chew and digest their food.
· Help the child learn to speak and articulate properly.
· Holds space for the adult teeth which will succeed them.
· Maintain proper self-esteem. (Kids don’t like to look different)
Losing baby teeth at an early age can lead to severe crowding problems later.
Maintain Proper Diet
A proper diet is extremely important for oral health and for the proper development of your child. Your child’s diet should include fruits and vegetables; meat, fish and eggs; three glasses of milk per day or the equivalent in yogurt or cheese; and breads and cereals. Sugary snacks should be avoided, especially sticky substances such as taffy, raisins, and jellybeans. The sugars in the candy are converted to acid by the bacteria in the mouth and will cause tooth decay.
Questions? Ask Dr. Jeffrey Cahn at