Age One Dental Visit
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) all recommend establishing a "Dental Home" for your child by one year of age. Children who have a dental home are more likely to receive appropriate preventive and routine oral health care.
Our office offers a complimentary Baby Oral Health Program (BOHP) for children eight to eighteen months of age. At the infant dental visit, our pediatric oral health educators will consult with the parents, examine the infant and apply topical fluoride if indicated. Follow-up visits with the doctor will be scheduled according to the individual needs of the child.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (Early Childhood Caries)
One serious form of decay among young children is baby bottle tooth decay. This condition is caused by frequent and long exposures of an infant’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar. Among these liquids are milk (including breast milk), formula, fruit juice and other sweetened drinks.
Putting a baby to bed (for a nap or at night) with a bottle filled with anything other than water can cause serious and rapid tooth decay. Sweet liquid pools around the child’s teeth giving plaque bacteria an opportunity to produce acids that attack tooth enamel. If you must give your baby a bottle as a comforter at bedtime, it should contain only water.
Cleaning Your Infant's Teeth and Gums
Cleaning your infant’s mouth should start prior to the eruption of teeth. Use a soft, wet wash cloth and gently wipe your baby’s gums and tongue once a day.
Switch to a small, soft tooth brush when your child’s first tooth erupts. At this time begin using a very small smear (less than a pea size) of fluoride toothpaste. Please do not use more than a very small amount as your child will most likely swallow it.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends pacifier use to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). However, long term pacifier use can cause orthodontic problems. After the first birthday, please try to limit pacifiers to nights and naps. We recommend discontinuing pacifier use between ages two and three. Most orthodontic problems caused by pacifier use will self correct if the habit is stopped by age 3.
If your child develops a finger sucking habit when the pacifier is stopped, please return the pacifier to them. As much as we do not like a pacifier habit, a finger habit is worse.
We recommend transitioning from the bottle to a sippy cup at age one. Milk or water are approriate beverages at meal time. If your child uses a sippy cup throughout the day, fill it with water only. Filling the sippy cup with liquids that contain sugar (including milk, fruit juice, sports drinks, etc.) will increase their risk of developing cavities.
Sucking is a natural reflex. Infants and young children may suck thumbs, fingers, pacifiers and other objects. It may make them feel secure and happy or provide a sense of security at difficult periods. Since thumb sucking is relaxing, it may induce sleep.
Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of the permanent teeth can cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and tooth alignment. The intensity of the sucking will determine whether or not dental problems result. Children who rest their thumbs passively in their mouths are less likely to have difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs.
Children should cease thumb sucking by the time their permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Usually, children stop between the ages of two and four. Peer pressure causes many school-aged children to stop.
Harold's Hideaway Thumb
by Harriet Sonnenschein, Jurg Obnzt (Illustrator), Jurg Obrist (Illustrator)
Decides About Thumbsucking - A Story for Children, a
Guide for Parents
by Susan Heitler P H.D., Paula Singer (Photographer)