Baby Teeth 101 - Delta Dental of Washington

Baby Teeth 101 - Delta Dental of Washington
Baby Teeth 101
Q. Do baby teeth matter, since they are going to fall out anyway?
A. Yes! Baby teeth matter. Healthy baby teeth are
very important for a baby who will soon be
learning how to talk and eat solid food. As a child
grows, healthy baby teeth can help ensure healthy
permanent teeth and overall good health. Children
are not healthy if their mouths are not healthy.
Q. When should I first have my baby’s teeth
A. Your baby’s teeth should be screened by a dentist or physician by their
first birthday – first screening by first birthday. Have your baby’s teeth
looked at during your child’s well-child visits beginning when the first tooth
comes in, usually between 6 and 12 months of age. Early preventive care
will protect your child’s oral health now and in the future.
Q. What will happen during the oral health screening?
A. Your dentist or physician should check your baby’s teeth for signs of
early decay, talk about daily tooth care and discuss your baby’s diet and
eating habits. He or she may also suggest fluoride varnish, a quick and
easy way to prevent and even heal early decay, or fluoride drops or
tablets if you live in an area without fluoridated water.
Q. I thought I didn’t need to have my baby’s teeth looked at until age three.
What’s changed?
A. Research shows that early preventive care, starting with the very first
tooth, helps prevent dental disease and protect a child’s overall health.
Make sure your baby’s teeth are checked by age one by a dentist or
physician. Take your baby in sooner if you notice any problems. Early
oral health care saves money by preventing complicated, expensive
dental problems down the road.
Q. I’ve heard about tooth painting or varnishes. How can I learn more?
A. Ask your dentist or physician about fluoride varnish. It is a quick and
effective way to help prevent and heal early tooth decay.
Q. Do I need to clean my baby’s mouth if there are no teeth yet?
A. Yes, beginning at birth clean your baby’s gums after every feeding with
a clean, damp washcloth or piece of gauze.
Q. What do I do once teeth begin to appear?
A. Once teeth appear, brush them twice daily with a soft toothbrush and a
rice-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Place your baby’s head in
your lap to make it easier to brush.
Q. Can babies get cavities?
A. Yes. As soon as teeth appear, they are at risk for decay. It is critical to
keep a baby’s mouth and teeth clean and healthy. Dental problems can
begin early and get worse over time. If problems are caught early, they
can be treated. Prevention helps protect your child’s oral and overall
Q. What is “baby bottle” tooth decay?
A. Babies who go to bed with a bottle of milk, formula or juice are more
likely to get tooth decay. When these liquids stay in contact with the teeth
while the baby is sleeping, teeth can decay quickly. If you put your baby
to bed with a bottle, fill it with water. Formula, milk, juice or other liquids
may increase your child’s risk for cavities. Breast milk can also cause
decay if your baby falls asleep while nursing.
Q. Can the condition of a parent’s teeth and gums affect their child’s oral
A. Yes, studies show that parents can pass the germs that cause dental
disease to their children by licking pacifiers or pre-chewing a baby’s food.
Parents need to keep their teeth and gums healthy by brushing twice daily
with fluoride toothpaste, flossing and having regular checkups. Parents’
good oral hygiene can help prevent cavities in their baby’s mouth.
Q. How does diet affect my baby’s teeth?
A. A healthy diet helps children grow and develop. Sweets (candy or
cookies), starchy foods (crackers), and sticky foods (raisins, fruit snacks)
stay in the mouth longer and easily cause tooth decay. For snacks, offer
fruits, vegetables or cheese. Limit how often your child has juice, sweet
drinks and snacks. Constant snacking on starchy or sticky foods or
sipping sweet liquids throughout the day can cause tooth decay.
Q. Besides cleaning and brushing my child’s teeth, are there other things
parents can do?
A. Yes. Check your baby’s teeth often. Look for white spots on the teeth
or changes to the gums. White spots, especially along the gums, are
often early signs of tooth decay. If you see white or brown spots or other
changes in your baby’s teeth or gums when you “lift the lip,” call your
dentist or physician.
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