By Nicklaus Children’s Pediatric Dental Services Team
Healthy teeth and gums are an integral part of a child’s overall health. While most parents know the importance of good oral hygiene, many are unsure just how soon they should be concerned about their children’s teeth.
“Proper dental care begins far before a child’s first tooth comes out,” explains Dr. Arevalo, whose knowledgeable team of dental specialists is trained to handle a wide range of issues associated with pediatric dental health. "In fact, by the time babies are born, their 20 primary teeth are in full development.”
That’s why it’s important for new parents to be conscious of their child’s oral health right from the start.
“A great way to avoid problems early on is to practice good feeding habits,” said Dr. Meincken
Not putting your baby to sleep with a bottle is a good way of avoiding harmful bacteria from forming around your baby’s teeth and gums.
“Sugars from milk and juice that remain on a baby’s teeth for hours can cause a medical condition known as baby bottle tooth decay,” said Dr. Miranda. "This can not only cause damage to tooth enamel but can result in cavities in primary teeth. Children with severe cases of baby bottle tooth decay may sometimes have to have their baby teeth pulled until permanent ones come in. “
As a parent, you can help prevent buildup in your baby’s mouth by running a damp washcloth over their gums after their feeding time. Once your child has the first tooth showing, it is recommended to brush it with fluoridated toothpaste. Meanwhile, limiting bottle time throughout the day can also help prevent buildup.
Brushing should be done twice a day by the parents as children do not develop fine motor skills until 6.5 to 7 years old.
Baby’s First Dental Visit
“It is recommended that children should have their first dental visit by the time they are one year old,” said Dr. Lolo. "Here, the dentist will typically guide you through proper oral hygiene and nutritional habits, as well as check for signs of any potential problems in your child’s teeth and gums.”
As they grow older, routine cleanings, x-rays, and fluoride treatments usually become part of your child’s regular dental visits, which should occur every three months to a year.
“The earlier you take your child to the dentist, the earlier you can begin preventing common dental problems, including cavities and gingivitis, as well as other more serious complications,” said Dr. Drukteinis. "That along with teaching your child good habits from early on can ensure they keep a beautiful and healthy smile.”
The pediatric dental services team is comprised of Dr. Oscar Arevalo, Dr. Lesbia Drukteinis, Dr. Patrick Lolo, Dr. Melissa Meincken, and Dr. Paula Miranda.