Sporting Smiles
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Infant Oral Health Care

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When it comes to your child's health, being engaged matters. We are here to answer your questions and help you feel confident in the decisions you make. 

We've collected some of the questions we hear most often here at Sporting Smiles. If your question isn't on this list or you need more information, please don't hesitate to call our office. 

Infant Oral Health Care

Primary, or “baby,” teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt. Primary teeth are “place holders” for permanent teeth that are expected to erupt around 11 and 12 years of age.

Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time. Most children will stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or using a pacifier past the age of three, the doctors at Sporting Smiles can review methods of cessation with you – this may even include an appliance to prevent the habit from continuing.

At Sporting Smiles, a child’s general health and well-being is our top priority. We support breastfeeding but also recommend that mothers take the steps necessary to prevent ‘nursing caries’ from developing in their children.

The World Health Organization strongly recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. At six months, other foods should be introduced and complement breastfeeding for up to two years or more.

Breast milk gives infants all the nutrients they need for healthy development. It contains antibodies that help protect infants from common childhood illnesses. Breast milk also contains sugars similar to those found in the sweet beverages that lead to decay.

Our recommendation is to avoid nursing a child to sleep. If a child does fall asleep, simply wiping their teeth, gums, and tongue with moistened gauze, cloth, or a silicone rubber fingertip toothbrush can greatly reduce the chances of developing decay.

  • When it comes to infants, avoid putting them to bed with a bottle. It’s also beneficial to try to keep shared utensils or toys away from them, so they don’t get additional germs in their mouth.
  • It is important to establish a healthy oral hygiene routine as early as infants have their first tooth come in. Parents can begin brushing at least once a day at bedtime and as children become old enough to brush, parents can create a routine and make it fun!
  • Children and adults should brush their teeth at least twice per day and for at least two minutes each time. Do not forget to brush your tongue as well. In addition to brushing you also need to floss at least once per day.
  • Visit to your dentist’s office at least every 6 months for a check up and cleaning. This will help ensure a healthy mouth, as your dentist will be able to discover any issues that may arise.
  • See an orthodontist as recommended by your dentist or if you feel you have issues that may warrant a consultation with one. Such issues as bite misalignment, braces, and teeth straightening are best handled by an orthodontist, who is a trained specialist in these areas.
  • Always use a mouth guard when playing sports. This simple little device, which can be picked up at a sporting good’s store, can save you a great deal of pain and money later!
  • Replace your toothbrush regularly, which is every two to three months or as the bristles become frayed.
  • Keep drinks in check! Sugar drinks should be avoided or kept to a minimum, as well as highly acidic drinks (e.g., citrus sodas and sports drinks, etc.), which can eat away at and erode the tooth enamel.

Baby bottle tooth decay (also called early childhood caries and nursing caries) occurs when a baby’s teeth are in frequent contact with sugars (fruit juices, milk, formula, flavored water, soda, or any other sweet drink). The bacteria in a baby’s mouth break down the sugar in these liquids, producing acid that causes tooth decay.

If left untreated, decayed teeth can cause pain and make it difficult to chew and eat. If baby teeth are decayed, become infected, or are lost early, they can cause harm to developing teeth and can’t help guide the permanent teeth into their proper position. Badly decayed baby teeth can become severely infected with the possibility of that infection spreading elsewhere.

Children should not be permitted to take a bottle to bed. Ideally, children should be weaned from the bottle by 12 months of age. Additionally, a ‘sippy cup’ should only be used to transition your child from the bottle to the cup. Scheduling your child’s first dental visit at Sporting Smiles by their first birthday is a great opportunity to learn how to keep your child happy, healthy, and cavity free.

At Sporting Smiles, we stress the importance of starting healthy habits early. From the moment you bring your baby home, start cleaning your baby’s mouth even if he/she doesn’t have teeth. You can clean his/her gums and tongue with moistened gauze, cloth, or a silicone rubber fingertip toothbrush during bath-time.

When your child’s first tooth erupts, a toothbrush will remove bacteria that can lead to decay. Any soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one designed specifically for infants, should be used at least twice a day, but especially at bedtime. Children often do not have the manual dexterity needed to effectively clean their teeth. For this reason, we recommend brushing for your child until they are 8 years of age and flossing for them until they are 10 years of age.

Speak to the doctors at Sporting Smiles to learn more about fluoridated toothpaste and supplements. Supervised home care is essential in maintaining your child’s optimal oral health.

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