Infant Oral Screening
A new baby makes for an exciting and sometimes overwhelming time, and we want to help alleviate some of the concerns that surround your baby’s health, especially their oral health. Our trained team and dentists at Pediatric Dentistry can provide safe and effective oral screenings for your infant as their teeth grow in and begin to develop. We have some helpful tips to offer when monitoring and caring for your infant before and after their teeth grow in and can get your child set up with their routine check-ups within their first year.
When Should I Take My Baby to the Dentist for the First Time?
We recommend parents schedule their infant’s first dental appointment before their first birthday or within 6 months after their first tooth comes in. In the meantime, though, we also recommend you take measures early on to promote healthy eating and oral care practices. Practicing these healthy habits can prevent or reduce cavities in your baby. Because your child is so young and a first dentist visit can be a little scary, our dental hygienists do everything they can to create a peaceful, calming environment for your child. We don’t typically use our chairs when meeting infants and instead ask the parent to hold their child during the exam. Our infant screenings are painless and gentle. Our dentists simply check the gums and teeth for any redness, swelling, or spotting, all of which could signify tooth decay. After your child’s first dental appointment, continue to bring him or her in to our Ankeny or Des Moines office for a regular checkup every six months in order to ensure maintenance of their healthy, smiling mouth.
Oral Care Tips for Your Infant
Even before your child is ready for their first dentist visit, though, we highly recommend a number of oral health practices to improve and maintain the strength of your child’s teeth and overall oral health. Before your infant is ready to monitor their own teeth, be sure to regularly and gently lift their lips to check the gums and teeth. If you see white or brown spotting on their teeth, schedule a dental visit right away. Doing this will also help you familiarize yourself with the normal state of your child’s mouth so that you will be able to recognize if anything unusual starts appearing.
Also, be sure to clean your infant’s gums, especially after feeding, by using a moistened washcloth – be sure to check the temperature will be comfortable for your child – and gently massaging your child’s gums. You can begin to use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush with the washcloth as your child’s teeth grown in. As your child begins teething, around 4-6 months of age, you can ease the swelling, redness, and increased saliva by giving your child a cold wet washcloth or cold teething ring. The cold temperature will sooth the symptoms.
As your child grows their teeth and soon a full mouth of pearly whites by the age of 30 months, continue to brush his or her teeth twice a day with a toothbrush and water as well as regularly check their gums and teeth for spotting. At the age of 2, you can begin brushing your child’s teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste, it is important to teach your child not to swallow the toothpaste and monitor that they don’t. This is when you can also teach your child to start brushing their teeth themselves. Children should be able to brush their teeth on their own by the age of 6 or 7. By the age of 3, they should stop using a pacifier and/or sucking their thumb. These habits can increase the likelihood of malocclusions and orthodontic deformities as the child grows older while maintaining the habit. Talk with your child’s dentist at Pediatric Dentistry if you are struggling to help your child break the habit.