Pediatric Dentist Dr. Jeffrey Heilig infant dental health

Pediatric Dentist Dr. Jeffrey Heilig picture of babyAn Infant Dental Consultation will provide you with daily home care recommendations that give your child the best opportunity to reduce their risk for cavities and to be cavity-free. It should be seen as the foundation on which a lifetime of preventive education and dental care can be built.

As part of our Preventive Dental Health Program, our office provides an Infant Dental Consultation and recommends this visit within six months of the eruption of your child's first tooth.

This consultation will include a discussion of:

Dental Care for Your Baby

When should my child first see a dentist?

"First visit by first birthday" sums it up. Your child should visit a pediatric dentist when the first tooth comes in, usually between 6 and 12 months of age. This visit will establish a dental home for your child. Early examination and preventive care will protect your child’s smile now and in the future.

Why so early? What dental problems could a baby have?

The most important reason is to begin a thorough prevention program. Dental problems can begin early. A big concern is Early Childhood Caries (formerly known as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing caries). Once a child’s diet includes anything besides breast-milk, erupted teeth are at risk for decay. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems. Children with healthy teeth chew food easily and smile with confidence. Start your child now on a lifetime of good dental habits.

How can I prevent tooth decay from nursing or using a bottle?

One serious form of decay among young children is Early Childhood Caries. This condition is caused by frequent and long exposures of an infant’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar. Among these liquids are milk (including breast milk), formula, fruit juice and other sweetened drinks.

Putting a baby to bed for a nap or at night with a bottle other than water can cause serious and rapid tooth decay. Sweet liquid pools around the child’s teeth giving plaque bacteria an opportunity to produce acids that attack tooth enamel. If you must give the baby a bottle as a comforter at bedtime, it should contain only water. If your child won't fall asleep without the bottle and its usual beverage, gradually dilute the bottle's contents with water over a period of two to three weeks.

When should bottle-feeding be stopped?

Children should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age.

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Sippy Cups

Sippy cups can be used as a training tool from the bottle to a cup and should be discontinued by the first birthday. If your child uses a sippy cup throughout the day, fill the sippy cup with water only (except at mealtimes). By filling the sippy cup with liquids that contain sugar (including milk, fruit juice, sports drinks, etc.) and allowing a child to drink from it throughout the day, it soaks the child’s teeth in cavity causing bacteria.

When and how should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?

The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums after feedings. The easiest way to do this is to sit down, place the baby’s head in your lap or whatever position allows you to see into their mouth. Then use a gauze pad or thin washcloth moistened with water to wipe their gums. As soon as the teeth begin to appear, continue wiping the teeth but also start brushing with a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush.

When should I start using Fluoride Toothpaste

The most recent recommendation by the American Dental Association Council of Scientific Affairs concluded that the proper use of fluoride toothpaste in young children can maximize the preventive benefits and reduce the risk of potential fluorosis.

An Infant Dental Evaluation just after your child’s 1st birthday allows Dr. Heilig to make more specific recommendations regarding the use Fluoride toothpaste based on an assessment of your baby’s risks for cavities.

Pediatric Dentist Dr. Jeffrey Heilig picture of toothbrushes
'rice grain-size'                 'Pea-size'

What's The Best Toothpaste For My Child?

We recommend choosing a fluoride toothpaste that has the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. These approved products will display the ADA Accepted Seal as well as a Seal Statement on the product label and in advertising. Only after a product has demonstrated its safety and effectiveness will the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs award the Seal to that product.

Any advice on teething?

From six months to age 3, your child may have tender gums when teeth erupt. Many children like a clean teething ring, cool spoon or cold wet washcloth. Some parents swear by a chilled ring; others simply rub the baby’s gums with a clean finger.

Should I worry about thumb and finger sucking?

Thumb sucking is perfectly normal for infants; many stop by age 2. Prolonged thumb sucking can create crooked teeth or bite problems. If the habit continues beyond age 3, a professional evaluation is recommended. Your pediatric dentist will be glad to suggest ways to address a prolonged thumb sucking habit.

Perinatal & Infant Oral Health

Pediatric Dentist - Perinatal & Infant Oral HealthThe American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that all pregnant women receive oral healthcare and counseling during pregnancy. Research has shown evidence that periodontal disease can increase the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. Talk to your doctor or dentist about ways you can prevent periodontal disease during pregnancy.

Additionally, mothers with poor oral health may be at a greater risk of passing the bacteria which causes cavities to their young children. Mother's should follow these simple steps to decrease the risk of spreading cavity-causing bacteria:

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