A special concern of infant dental care is how to avoid tooth decay while children are still nursing and drinking from a baby bottle. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, nursing children should only have water in their bottles when they are put to sleep during naps and at night. A coating of juices, milk or formula on their teeth while they sleep can break down tooth enamel.
The teeth in a baby's mouth need to be checked regularly by a dentist, cleaned thoroughly and monitored for tooth decay just as adult teeth are. They may be temporary, but how well baby teeth are maintained can influence how young ones learn to speak and chew as well as the development of their jaws.
Parents may put off dentist visits for one so young believing that regular professional care isn't yet necessary. Or, they may not be able to find affordable dental insurance with reasonably priced premiums. But there are dental discount plans that provide many dentistry services at reduced cost. With the help of such dental plans, parents don't have to delay the care their babies need.
Don't wait for first tooth
Parents also don't have to wait until a tooth appears to practice good oral hygiene on their babies. During infancy, gums can be cleaned with a water-dampened cloth or soft infant toothbrush. No toothpaste is necessary until teeth appear.
When there are teeth to brush, a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste on a baby toothbrush will be all that's needed. Use water to wash it away since babies aren't able to spit out the toothpaste. The cleaning should take place once daily before bedtime. In time, young children can be taught to brush their teeth, often between the ages of 2 and 5.
Baby teeth last a while
A child's first set of teeth are not fully replaced by adult teeth until about age 12. Eventually, the 20 primary teeth will make way for 32 permanent teeth that will be with them into adulthood.
To make sure the early teeth are as healthy as they can be while they last, babies should begin having appointments at a dentist office as early as when the first tooth appears - typically at a few months old - or at least by their first birthday. Early visits with a dentist should set in motion twice-yearly check-ups for optimum dental care.
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