Friday, April 4, 2014

How to Keep a Baby's Smile Shining: Healthy Oral Care for Infants

Your baby’s smile lights up your life, but there’s always a very real danger lurking around the corner. Most babies are at a high risk for some type of tooth or gum problem. How can this be? A lot of it has to do with how parents feed and care for babies. But, you don’t have to become just another statistic. Here’s how to protect your baby’s smile, and ensure that his or her teeth are perfect.

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Baby bottle tooth decay is more common than you think. It happens mostly when parents give baby a bottle at night or just before nap time. The sugars in the drink, even if it’s just milk or infant formula, can be enough to cause oral health problems.

Beyond just tooth decay, a pre-nap or bedtime bottle increases the risk for other problems like thrush. When baby falls asleep, saliva flow slows down. This, in turn, allows oral bacterial to feed off of the sugars you just gave baby.

Usually, pathogenic bacteria are kept at bay by the child’s developing immune system. But, that immune system isn’t strong enough to fend off everything. Since pathogens feed off sugar, it’s like arming the enemy and simultaneously lowering baby’s defenses. So, to save yourself a lot of frustration, and trips to the doctor or dentist, avoid giving baby a bottle before bedtime.

Preventing Tooth Alignment Problems

Pacifiers are a very controversial subject with doctors and dentists. Some think they’re OK, others think that they are a necessary evil. At least one NYC family dentist advises caution when giving baby a pacifier after age 2.

And, there is considerable evidence that parents should not be giving babies pacifiers right before bed or while they sleep. According to Jane Soxman, author of a study on pacifiers and sleep, babies who suck on pacifiers are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. Babies also don’t sleep as deeply as they do without pacifiers.

The constant sucking allows them to wake up in the middle of the night, or develop light sleeping patterns. As baby gets older, this becomes a major problem. If you’re having trouble with a fussy baby, or your child refuses to sleep through the night, try relying less on the pacifier.

Finally, the constant sucking on a pacifier may cause expensive tooth alignment problems after the primary teeth have come in. The constant sucking pulls on the teeth for as long as the child is sucking. By curbing the habit early you may save yourself thousands of dollars on braces later.

Relieving Toothaches and Coping With Primary Tooth Loss

All children have primary teeth. All children lose them. But, between the time they grow in, and the time they are lost, what can you do to ease your child’s discomfort? Surprisingly, a lot. Primary teeth first come in as early as 6 or 7 months. They typically fall out when the child is 12 or 13 years old.

When the child’s teeth are coming in, use teething rings, a frozen washcloth, and even ointments to numb the pain, if it’s severe enough. However, do not allow your child to suck his or her thumb or a pacifier, after the first tooth comes in.

While this can be soothing, it can also cause tooth alignment problems later. When teeth are ready to fall out, do not pull them. Prematurely pulling teeth before they’re ready can cause crowding and crooked teeth to grow in.

Robert Ander has been a pediatric dental hygenist for several years. When not checking for the tooth fairy or teaching patients how to floss, he enjoys blogging about common questions parents ask.


Courtney B said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

i have a toddler and a 10 month old and i rarely brush their teeth because they fight it. i really need to start

VickeC said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

thanks for the posting,,I have several infant and toddler grandchildren

Post a Comment