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Pediatric Dentistry: The Importance of Dental Care for Your Baby

We all know that the oral health of our children is crucial, and we certainly impress upon them the importance of dental hygiene. We make them brush their teeth and we limit their sugar intake. But many of us fall into the trap of underestimating the importance of professional dental care in kids.

Is it really that important to brush my baby's teeth?
Absolutely. Food particles can become trapped in the teeth and gums of young children just the same as ours, and this can lead to festering bacteria and serious dental problems down the line. As soon as your baby begins teething, you should start thoroughly cleaning his or her teeth and gums. This can be done at first with a damp cloth or dental wipes, eventually graduating to use of a soft-bristled toothbrush. These methods will clean the mouth without irritating or injuring your youngster's teeth and gums. (It should also be noted that putting your baby to bed with a bottle of sugary juice can be detrimental to his or her oral health.)

What will my child's dentist do at his or her first dental appointment?
With young children, the parents are typically invited into the exam room with the patient. (For older children, some dentists ask the parents to remain in the waiting room to avoid distraction - or even parental panic.) You, your child, and the dentist will discuss his or her dental health, including a plan of action going forward. The dentist will conduct a routine exam and clean the teeth thoroughly, just as with your appointments. A child should begin seeing the dentist around his or her first birthday to set the tone for their dental health.

What kind of toothpaste should my infant use?
An infant is too young to use fluoride toothpastes, as they are too young to spit the toothpaste out and typically wind up ingesting the fluoride. Therefore, non-fluoridated toothpastes are the way to go. Plain water on a cloth is also effective to clean your baby's first teeth. Be sure, of course, to monitor and assist your child when they begin brushing on their own.

What about sucking devices like pacifiers? Will they damage my child's teeth?
Yes, if the habit is carried on for too long. Beyond age three or so, sucking habits such as pacifiers and thumb-sucking should cease to maintain dental health. These habits can cause teeth to grow misaligned and improperly.05

Pediatric Dentistry