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Thursday 6 October 2016

Start Early With Oral Healthcare for Babies and Toddlers #babyoralhealth #babyteeth

Brianna, © 2016
My little munchkin just had her fifteen month pediatrician visit, and I learned some interesting stuff. She received her next needle, which this time they gave to her via the upper arm and not the thigh (needle for chickenpox). We discussed her growth pattern, and that she's in the 85th percentage for both height and weight... she's 23 Lbs. Also, I brought up that she's been vomiting on occasion while sitting in her car seat in the car. After a couple questions, it turns out that it's motion sickness, and that a baby or toddler should ONLY BE IN A REAR FACING CAR SEAT UNTIL THEY'RE TWO. We had upgraded to a front facing seat after her one year checkup. Forget all claims regarding car seats being safe if a toddler is at least 22 Lbs! Since she was at the minimum, I assumed it was okay to switch to the big girl seat... I was wrong.

Anyway, back to the main reason for this post... when the doctor checked my daughters mouth, she had signs of tarter. She only has four teeth... never in a million years did I think that she would have tarter already. I felt like crying. So after a talk with the doctor, some personal research of my own, and plenty of time and frustration trying to combat the toddler teeth brushing tantrums, here's my post!

It's a good idea to take your first trip to the dentist within six months after the eruption of the first baby tooth, and no later than twelve months of age.

Benefits of seeing a dentist by their first birthday:
  • To help determine if there's a risk for cavities
  • Perform an examination of their mouth to rule out any abnormalities
  • Assess fluoride needs
  • Determine risk of being exposed to S. Mutans, which cause cavities
  • Evaluate diet and snacking
  • Evaluate tooth eruption and potential orthodontic problems for future
  • Provide guidance for injury prevention
  • Have the dentist introduce proper care for your child's teeth
  • Help prevent early tooth loss

Your infants first dental visit should include:

Creating a record of medical and dental history which covers the before birth, at birth, and after birth periods. A thorough oral exam performed. Talk of cavity prevention and a reevaluation plan and guidance for the following...
  • Dental and oral development breakdown
  • Fluoride status
  • Oral habits and care of teeth moving forward
  • Effects of diet on teeth

Ways to help prevent early childhood cavities:

For Expecting Mothers
Since the bacteria that causes decay can be passed from the mother to her child during pregnancy, it's highly recommended that you visit a dentist for a routine cleaning. Make sure that you follow with brushing at least two times daily for two to five minutes. Floss daily, and use an antimicrobial mouth-rinse daily. Even though this is for expecting mothers, it's a good idea to do this to show a good example from early on.

1. Avoid letting your baby go to sleep with a bottle of anything. Letting your baby sleep with a bottle can become dangerous, not just by choking, but can cause tooth decay... breast milk included. If you need to give a bottle for soothing purposes, use water and keep an eye on them.

2. It's important that you, as the parent, check and clean your baby's teeth. To clean their teeth, you will want to make sure they're in a comfortable position... so that you have easy access to their mouth. You can try sitting on a sofa with your child's head resting in your lap, or anywhere that is safe so that they don't roll and fall. It's easier to start the habit of cleaning their mouth soon after birth with a wet soft cloth, gauze pad, or soft baby toothbrush and water. Try to continue to clean and massage the gums in all the other areas that remain toothless. Always try and rinse their teeth with water after eating when it's not possible to brush and floss. Always brush their teeth before going to bed, and make sure not to bottle or breastfeed after.

3. After twelve months of age, try and select a baby toothpaste that contains fluoride. Also, if fluoride isn't in your drinking water, then you can give vitamin drops with it. Fluoride varnish is an excellent preventative  procedure that is easy to apply at twelve months, which is less ingestion than use of fluoride gels.

4. Take your baby to the dentist by the age of one. You will want to schedule appointments early in the day, but avoid doing it around their nap-time. If it's their first time, you may want to bring a comfort item from home, such as a blanket or favorite toy. Make the experience as positive for them as possible, and try to avoid any fears that you may have.

5. Make sure to feed them healthy food by following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Diets that contain sugary foods, soft drinks, and fruit juices, are more likely to promote cavities. Select foods from the food groups of fruits, veggies, meat, grains and dairy. Try to limit between meal snacking... if you do introduce snacks, be sure to offer foods low in sugar (cheese, nuts or vegetables). The more often your child snacks on food containing sugar and starches, the greater the chance for tooth decay. Don't add sugar to your baby's food to make it taste better. If you're going to give your child a drink that contains sugar, only do so with meals. Drinks high in sugar content or acid shouldn't be given in a bottle or sippy cup at bedtime... this would cause their teeth's enamel to break down.

6. Avoid chew-able vitamins or any other medications that list sugar in the ingredients. If your child has reduced saliva flow from the medication, gastric reflex or other special health needs, see the pediatrician and dentist.

7. Change your child's toothbrush every few months, and after they've been sick. If a child is sick, it's easier to place toothpaste on a cotton swab or a clean finger, to avoid contaminating the toothpaste tube.

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