Oral Health for Children
When children experience reassuring and positive visits to the dentist early in their lives, they’re more likely to follow healthy habits. Our caring staff makes sure your child’s dental check-ups are calm and upbeat.
Infants and Toddlers
We recommend infants visit Dr. Kevin S. Bone, D.D.S. for the first time when they are 1 year old. By this time, your baby’s first teeth are erupting. This is a critical time for spotting problems before they become big concerns.
Common early conditions we see include:
- Thumb sucking, which should be strongly discouraged. Babies who suck their thumbs may be setting the stage for malformed teeth and bite relationships.
- Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, which is caused by things like sugary substances in breast milk and some juices. The sugar combines with saliva to form pools inside the baby’s mouth. If left untreated, this can lead to premature decay of your baby’s primary teeth. Decay in the primary teeth hampers the proper formation of permanent teeth. To avoid this, do not allow your baby to nurse on a bottle while going to sleep. Encouraging your child to drink from a cup helps too.
- Irritated or sore gums are common during teething. You can help relieve this by gently rubbing your baby’s gums with the back of a small spoon, a piece of wet gauze, or your clean finger. You also can try offering your baby a teething ring. Do not dip the teething ring or a pacifier into a sweet substance as this can cause Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.
Primary and Permanent Teeth
Every child grows 20 primary teeth, usually by the age of 3. These teeth are gradually replaced by the age of 12 or so with a full set of 28 permanent teeth. Later, four molars also called wisdom teeth, erupt.
It is essential that you make and keep 6-month check-ups for your children. The health of a child’s primary teeth set the stage for permanent teeth. If primary teeth are diseased or do not grow in properly, it’s likely their permanent replacements will suffer the same fate.
During routine check-ups, we can spot problems early and correct them before the permanent teeth are affected.
Babies’ gums and teeth can be gently cleaned with special infant toothbrushes that fit over your finger. Between birth and age 2, use water alone without toothpaste.
Water is suitable in lieu of toothpaste (because the baby may swallow the toothpaste). Parents are advised to avoid fluoride toothpaste for children under the age of 2. By the time a child is 2, he or she is old enough to spit out the toothpaste instead of swallowing it.
Fluoride is generally present in most public drinking water systems. If you are unsure about your community’s water and its fluoride content, we can prescribe a fluoride supplement. Your child may not get enough fluoride just through fluoride toothpaste.
Toothaches can be common in young children. Sometimes toothaches are simply a sign that a tooth is emerging. Other times, though, a toothache indicates a serious problem.
Often you can relieve a small child’s toothache by rinsing his or her mouth with a solution of warm water and table salt. If the pain doesn’t subside, try an over-the-counter pain reliever for children. If pain persists despite the medication, call our office.
Parents should supervise young children closely and prevent them from putting foreign objects in their mouths to avoid injuries.
Irritation caused by retainers or braces can sometimes be relieved by placing a tiny piece of dental wax on the tip of the wire or another protruding object. If a piece of the retainer or braces lodges into a soft tissue and causes an injury, contact our office immediately and avoid dislodging it yourself.
We strongly encourage mouthguards for everyone involved in physical activities and sports. Dr. Kevin S. Bone can custom fit a mouthguard for your child, preventing injuries to the teeth, gums, lips, and other oral structures. Mouthguards are small plastic appliances that safely fit around your child’s teeth. Ask Dr. Bone or your hygienist about a mouthguard at your next appointment.
For tips for handling other Dental Emergencies, please visit our Dental Emergencies page.