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Infant Dental Care

Mother brushing her infant sons teethThe American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child sees the dentist once they get their first tooth or by their first birthday. This is important to help your child establish a “dental home” and get comfortable with coming to the dentist at an early age for easy and routine visits. The dentist will also discuss brushing, nursing, diet, bottle use, pacifier use, thumb sucking and answer any questions you may have about your child’s oral health. By discussing and reinforcing good dental habits early on we can increase their chance of being cavity free.

Cleaning Your Infant’s Teeth and Gums

As pediatric specialists, we want to dispel the common misconception that infant dental care begins when your child’s first tooth erupts. All infants can benefit from daily oral cleanings. Before your child’s first teeth erupt, you should clean their mouth with water and a washcloth or gauze, especially after feedings.

After your child’s primary (baby) teeth erupt, you can switch to a toothbrush and toothpaste. Be sure to use a soft-bristle baby toothbrush approved by the ADA and a fluoride toothpaste. Brush their teeth after each feeding and at bedtime for the most effective results.

Your Child’s First Appointment

Between the ages of six months to a year, your child’s first few teeth should erupt. Once this happens, you should schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible, no later than their first birthday.

The first visit is typically short and simple. Dr. Justin and Dr. Joni will perform a comprehensive exam to look for any potential problems with the teeth, gums, and jaw. We may also perform a cleaning depending on your child’s age and oral health status.

Be sure to ask any questions and voice concerns. This first appointment is largely educational. We may need to show you the proper way to brush and floss your child’s teeth. The goal is to prevent potential problems before they occur.

If we notice the early signs of tooth decay or gum disease, we will recommend making improvements to their oral routine and diet. Early tooth decay can cause several complications later down the road. The primary teeth help your child speak, smile, and chew properly. They also hold space in the jaw for the permanent teeth. If a primary tooth is lost prematurely due to tooth decay, it can create eruption issues such as crooked or misaligned teeth.

Early Childhood Caries. Previously known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Early childhood caries occurs when your infant's teeth are frequently exposed to drinks that contain sugar, including breast milk. For this reason, you should never put your infant to sleep with a bottle that contains anything but water. early childhood caries most often occurs in the upper anterior (front) teeth.

Thumb, Finger, and Pacifier Habits

Thumb, finger, and pacifier sucking is completely normal for infants. This type of behavior is a natural reflex that often helps infants fall asleep or feel more comfortable. However, these habits can become a problem as your child grows older.

According to the American Dental Association, you should discourage sucking habits by the age of four. Consistent or excessive sucking habits can lead to changes in their teeth and even affect their permanent bite. If this becomes an issue for your child, our dentists can help you change their habits with useful tips.
Learn more about thumb, finger, and pacifier habits.

Schedule An Appointment

If your child has just received their first tooth, it is time to schedule an appointment. Call 406-224-4272 to schedule an initial consultation today!
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