Proper dental care for your child’s teeth begins during pregnancy. Believe it or not, teeth “buds” first appear in the 5th or 6th week of pregnancy and then begin to calcify by the 14th week!
Pre-natal vitamins (containing vitamins A, C, D, phosphorus and calcium) help to preserve your baby’s oral health, by providing the building blocks for healthy tooth structure.
It is important for every expectant mother to continue to see the dentist for cleanings during pregnancy. Due to the high levels of the hormone progesterone, 50-70% of all pregnant women will develop bleeding, swollen and painful gums. This condition is called pregnancy gingivitis. Women with this type of gingivitis are 4 to 7 times more likely to deliver their baby prematurely (before the 37th week) and for the baby to have low birth weight! Pregnancy gingivitis is treated conservatively with frequent dental cleanings as well as educating the mother-to- be in proper brushing and flossing techniques.
After your baby is born, you can start wiping the gums with a damp, soft cloth to prevent the buildup of bacteria. At 6 months, your pediatrician may recommend vitamin drops containing small amounts of fluoride to help strengthen your baby’s teeth and to prevent tooth decay. The doctor should be aware of the amount of fluoride in your water supply, so that the baby doesn’t get too much.
As soon as your child’s first teeth appear (usually around 6 months) it’s important to keep them as clean as possible. Use a soft baby toothbrush and avoid any toothpaste that cannot be safely swallowed.
As your child grows, you can prevent “baby bottle syndrome “(rampant decay of baby teeth) by avoiding putting milk, juice, sugary drinks or soda in your baby’s bottle before nap time. Long periods of exposure to sugar will cause the teeth to decay. Even though the first set of teeth are eventually replaced by permanent teeth, it is very important to keep them healthy because they provide proper spacing for the secondary teeth.
Did you know that babies can CATCH tooth decay from their parents? This can occur when a caregiver cleans the baby’s feeding spoon or pacifier with their own mouth. Cavity causing bacteria can spread from caregiver to the child!
Your child’s first dental visit should occur shortly after all baby teeth (primary) have come in ,usually between 2 to 3 years of age, but sooner if you notice something unusual in your child’s mouth. The first appointment is to acquaint your child with the dental office and to begin a lifetime of good oral health.
Dr Amy Golden has a family friendly dental practice in Berlin New Jersey. She is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine and completed a general practice dental residency. She received awards at graduation in Oral Pathology and Oral Medicine and served as an adjunct assistant professor at University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr Golden also received “Philadelphia Area Top Rated Doctors” award.