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Your child’s dental health is important to us at Dr Joe Gregorich Family Dental and Implant Center. Dental health starts with the parent’s health and their understanding of preventive dental care.

The tooth formation starts in uteri, so nutrition is very important in the formation of the baby and their teeth. Prenatal vitamins pre-pregnancy and post pregnancy are very important for the following reasons; folic acid prevents cleft palates and other deformities. Calcium is laid down into the bone and tooth formation to strengthen them. Fluoride goes into the tooth formation to make the structure stronger and will decrease future decay in permanent and baby teeth.

Parents your nutrition and home care are very important to promote a healthier dental environment for your child, this includes brushing 2 times a day and flossing daily. We now know if the parents and caregiver have periodontal disease or dental decay, you can share this bacteria with your child! Dental decay is contagious! The bacteria (in your saliva) can be transferred to your child. Have you ever put your child’s pacifier in your mouth and then back into theirs? Tested their food, then put it in their mouth? If you have, you shared your mouths saliva (bacteria) and shared your decay risk!

Baby Bottle Syndrome and Tooth Decay Prevention

Tooth decay begins as soon as baby’s teeth come in. Decay in baby teeth can cause pain. If decay is not treated, it can destroy your child’s teeth. An abscess (pus-filled sac) from an untreated cavity can cause serious or even deadly infections. Children with tooth decay may have trouble eating, so they do not get enough vitamins and minerals. When plaque on teeth utilizes sugar in foods and liquids, it turns them into acids. Each time a child eats and drinks their teeth are under attack from this acid, which lasts from 20-60 minutes. Repeat attacks lead to tooth decay.

To help keep your child’s teeth healthy and cavity-free, follow these steps:

  • Clean your child’s teeth daily.

  • If your child uses a pacifier, never place a sweet sugar item on the pacifier.

  • Never put your child to bed with a bottle or training cup.

  • Do not put a pacifier or spoon in your mouth before giving it to the child. Decay causing bacteria in your mouth can be passed to the child.

  • Bottle can be tapered to training cups at about 6 months old and decrease training cup by 12 months old. Once your child has learned to sip from a regular glass or cup training cup can be discontinued.

  • Training cups should be used for only a short period of time.

  • Do not let your child sip sugary liquids often (including juice drinks).

Is Your Baby Teething?

 Teething tips may include:

  • Gently rub your child’s gums with a clean finger or wet gauze, or a small cool spoon.

  • Give your child a clean, chilled teething ring, do not dip it in sugar, syrup, honey or other foods.

  • Talk to your child’s dentist or pediatrician if your baby is still cranky and uncomfortable.

Sucking Habits

Many infants and young children like to suck on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers and objects. Sucking is natural reflex that may make them feel safe, happy and relaxed. However, long-term sucking habits can cause problems with teeth alignment and proper growth of the teeth and jaw. Jaws of children under 8 yrs old are still soft and pliable; thumb sucking can reshape the jaw bone and cause teeth to not align correctly. This may lead to poor tongue placement and problems chewing, swallowing and speaking. Due to the flaring of the front teeth and palate changes an open bite may occur which cause a space between the front upper and lower front teeth.

Sucking usually stops between 2 –4 years of age. If your child uses a pacifier or sucks their finger, talk to Dr Joe and his staff about ways to helped decrease the habit. Pacifiers should not be used after the age of 2 years old and finger sucking should end by the age of 4 years according to the American Dental Association.

Ways to support your child in quitting may include discussion with your child on why they may be thumb sucking and ways your can work together to stop. Don’t pressure the child as it may only reinforce the habit. Praise your child when they do not suck their thumb, instead of scolding them when they do. Set up an incentive plan to reward progress. Ask Dr Joe Gregorich Family Dental and his staff to help encourage your child to stop thumb sucking.

Brushing and Flossing Your Young Child’s New Teeth

Cleaning your child’s teeth includes brushing and flossing two times a day. It is important to prevent future cavities. Before your child has teeth, wipe the baby’s gums after each feeding. Use a clean damp gauze pad or washcloth. This removes plaque and bits of food. Brush teeth with a non-fluoride toothpaste until 3 years old or your child can expectorate (spit). Then you can start a small rice size smear of fluoridated toothpaste on the toothbrush. Always encourage spitting out the toothpaste verses swallowing it. The American Dental Association recommends that you brush or monitor brushing your child’s teeth until they are 6 years old. Place the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle along the gum line and do a gentle back and forth or circular stroke. Brush the outer, inner and tops of all teeth. Finish by brushing the tongue. This routine is based on the dexterity level of children and parent help in brushing and flossing under the age of 6 years old. . Also when your child is old enough to brush the ADA encourages parents to monitor brushing and flossing. They should not be “rushing the brushing’ as it should take 2 minutes to do a thorough job.

Begin flossing when your child has 2 teeth that touch. This is the American Dental Associations recommendation. Flossing removes plaque from between the teeth and will decrease decay. A proper tip for flossing includes gently rubbing the floss against the side the tooth. Repeat on all teeth including the backs of the last tooth in the mouth. Flossing is not easy for a child so parents should help or monitor flossing until 10-11 years if age. Floss picks and holders are also a way to make flossing easier for child and parents.

Why are Baby Teeth Important to Take Care Of?

Parents often ask why their child’s baby teeth need fillings if they are going to fall out anyway? Baby teeth are there to hold space and help the arch grow properly to the permanent teeth erupting. They are also there for chewing and speech. Sometimes permanent teeth are missing so it is important to fill the baby tooth and take x-rays to evaluate the area of concern. Permanent teeth do not start erupting until 6-12 years old, so there are many reasons Dr Joe Gregorich Family Dental and staff may feel it is important to fill a baby tooth and take x-rays. See the following chart on the eruption of baby teeth to permanent teeth.

Fluoride

Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in water sources. It occurs naturally in may areas of the state and throughout the United States. Fluoride helps make teeth stronger and protects teeth from decay. Children that drink tap water that has fluoride or take a prescription drop or tablet have a lower decay rate. Well water needs to be tested to check fluoride levels prior to adding a prescription fluoride. Osmosis systems remove fluoride from the water source so there is no fluoride benefit. Systemic fluoride that is through water or prescription help strengthens the tooth in the tooth formation process. This benefit occurs from gestation through tooth eruption at 12-14 years of age. Fluoride then can be added as a topical benefit in the prevention of decay. Topical is only added when the child can swish and spit. Talk to Dr Joe Gregorich Family Dental and staff about your child’s decay risk factor to determine fluoride recommendations. You should also be aware breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. If you use formula mixed with water to feed your baby, ask your pediatrician, family physician, or dentist about the best water options to use for fluoride benefit.

First Dental Visit

Talk to Dr Joe and staff about planning your child’s first dental visit. Some dentists do “well visits” at age one. Generally at age 2 1/2 to 3 years of age we would like to see your child at Dr Joe Gregorich dental office. Our staff will have conversations with you the parents prior to their first visit about fluoride, brushing, flossing and nutrition. If at any time you have questions or concerns we want to see your child to address your concerns.

On your child’s visit:

  • learn about the dental and health history

  • show and tell dental equipment and how it works and usage.

  • oral exam to check teeth, growth and development, injuries, cavities, or other problems

  • clean the teeth and show tips for daily care such as, brushing flossing and nutritional recommendations

  • make fluoride recommendations

  • discuss decay prevention steps and any treatment recommendations

Children learn healthy habits from their parents and caregivers. Children learn healthy dental habits by cleaning their teeth daily, taking them to the dentist regularly and learning healthy food habits. Teaching your children good dental care early is a great way to promote dental health for a lifetime

Websites: ADA- Healthy mouth