Contributed by The Dental Group
Medical research continues to uncover links between oral health and our overall health in general. Bacteria from periodontal disease can travel through the bloodstream to other parts of our bodies contributing to heart disease, diabetes, stroke and many other serious health problems.
Proper dental health care is important for our wellness … and for that of our children! Parents too often underestimate the importance of the earliest years. Yes, the baby teeth will ultimately go to the “tooth fairy” and give way to permanent teeth. But please don’t make the mistake of thinking that the care of baby teeth is unimportant in laying a lasting foundation for your child’s health.
It is never too soon to start your child on the path of good oral hygiene.
Gently clean your baby’s gums with a soft-bristle infant toothbrush or a soft cloth and water. We recommend you schedule your child’s first dental visit by their first birthday or whenever the first baby tooth erupts. Dr. Regil can tell you how often your child should visit based on their personal oral health.
Be watchful for changes that may alert you to significant developments in your child’s dental health. Please call our office (301) 864-5200 if you notice any of the following warning signs or conditions.
Decayed or Missing Baby Teeth
Baby teeth literally provide the foundation for the alignment of permanent teeth. Decayed or missing baby teeth may set the stage for improperly aligned permanent teeth and more dental problems, including difficulties with dental hygiene and chewing, and the likelihood of further decay and infection that can spread throughout the body. Space maintainers may be advisable for missing baby teeth in order to maintain proper spacing and alignment and to avoid more expensive treatment down the road.
Early Childhood Caries
Constant intake of fruit juice or any liquid containing sugar puts your baby at risk for Early Childhood Caries (also known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay or Nursing Bottle Syndrome). Formula, milk, water sweetened with sugar or honey, and even breast milk, all contain sugars that can be harmful if left on the teeth allowing bacteria to thrive. Avoid allowing your infant to fall asleep with a bottle of anything but water.
Thumb sucking is a normal way for babies to seek comfort. However, prolonged and/or aggressive thumb sucking may lead to improper spacing and alignment of teeth. Severe cases may even affect alignment of the roof of the mouth. We recommend a professional evaluation for children whose thumb sucking continues beyond age 3. Praise and encouragement for refraining from thumb sucking is often helpful, as well as trying to alleviate insecurities that your child may be experiencing. For persistent cases, a mouth appliance may be recommended.
Get your child started on the right “snack track” by offering fruits and vegetables for snacks. Limit sugary, sticky foods like gooey snack bars, raisins or candies that can stubbornly adhere to the teeth. Clean your child’s teeth after every snack or meal, and give them plenty of water.
If your child has a toothache, rinse the affected area with warm salt water and place a cold compress on the face for swelling. If necessary, give your child acetaminophen for any pain. Do not place aspirin on the teeth or gums. Call The Dental Group (301) 864-5200 as soon as possible.
Your Oral Health
Children whose parents and/or siblings have periodontal disease or tooth decay are more likely to have similar oral health issues. Bacteria like streptococcus mutans can spread to a child’s mouth through close contact with other family members. Prevention of caries or other infection should include therapy for the entire family.
If you have questions or for more information visit http://www.thedentalgroup.com/ or call 301-864-5200.