People always ask, “When should I bring my child in for his first visit?” There are a variety of answers, but let's look at the question from a medical standpoint.
When does a young expectant mother go to her doctor regarding her pregnancy? The answer should be as soon as she knows she’s pregnant. Her medical condition needs to be reevaluated relating to her new health issues. The same is true for her child’s dental condition. She should contact Dr. Shannon as soon as she knows she is pregnant.
Fact – The mother’s dental health (periodontal disease) can effect her unborn child. It can cause premature births, babies with low birth weight, maternal preclampsia, and gestational diabetes.
Prenatal Dental Care Tips
- If flossing was never fun, this is the time to start. Keep the unwanted bacterial count low by flossing every day.
- Brush with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day (minimum).
- Have your six month check up before the baby is born. Life will get hectic and there may not be time when the baby is a few months old.
- Gum chewing is not something the dentist usually recommends but research has shown chewing gum with Xylitol decreases the risk of decay in the infant.
After the oral evaluation of the mother’s dental health she should know about certain conditions with her new born child.
Bottle Baby Syndrome
When a baby is hungry it wants to be fed. It will suck its food until it falls asleep. That’s a good thing. The first six months is easy because the first tooth doesn’t show up until then. After that time, the concern is decay on the soft deciduous teeth (baby teeth or milk teeth). There is acid in the mouth. This acid combines with the bacteria to form decay on the teeth. Sugar is a great food for the bacteria and it comes from everything the baby drinks, such as milk, formula, juices, even breast milk.
What’s a mother to do?
- A soft finger cloth to wipe the teeth well is the best method of oral hygiene for an infant.
- At nap time or bed time, try just water and save the juices or milk for when the baby is awake.
- By one year take away the sippy cup and give fluids in a regular cup
- Rinse off pacifiers. Not put them in your mouth to wet them. Your bacteria will play havoc in your child’s mouth.
- Don’t dip pacifiers or bottle nipples in honey or sweet mixes to make them desirable
- Make a dental appointment with Dr Shannon to discuss infant dental care
If you wish to bring your child to Dr. Shannon, there is no minimum age requirement for your concerns but, for regular first visits, the ADA recommends one year. By then, there should be four teeth in front on the bottom and four on the top. Your child should not be using a bottle to drink, and you should be brushing their teeth with either plain water or a non fluoridate tooth paste.
Your child will swallow more toothpaste than they spit out and if there is fluoride in the paste it can affect the liver if there is too much ingested. Wait to use fluoride when they can do a good job spitting. I love hearing a proud mother telling me how well her child can spit.
The deciduous teeth are weaker than permanent teeth so make sure there isn’t a lot of sugar in their diet. Keep snacking to a minimum but if refined sugars in crackers or cookies are used follow it with water to wash away the sugar.
Sealants are a plastic like coating put over the grooves on the chewing surface of the molars to seal out food particles that can stick and cause decay. They are routinely done on the six year permanent teeth and can be done on deciduous molars if there are decay factors present. The second deciduous teeth are in the mouth at about 3 years old to about 12 years old so protecting them is important as well.
Fluoride treatments are done at check up appointments after the cleaning is done. It strengthens the outer layer of tooth by coating it with a fluoride solution. These are placed on the teeth every six months until the child is 15 years old. Fluoride supplements can be given daily if it seems the teeth need strengthening but right now the water supply has fluoride added so supplements are not necessary.
Pacifiers and thumb sucking are habits that usually end by age three to four. A pacifier can be taken away at a certain age but the thumb is a different story. They make solutions that can be painted on the thumb after age four to discourage (by taste) thumb sucking. If either habit continues too long or is too intense there can be damage to the shape of the bone forming. At that point, orthopedics or orthodontics may be needed to correct the bone defect or the tooth mal-alignment. Dr Shannon has many hours of courses over the years and has treated hundreds of these specific difficulties and should be consulted if any question related to these matters are present.
Orthodontics is usually done on children but today many adults seek orthodontic treatment to correct problems their families never addressed as children. Our results are extremely natural when dealing with children because their bone and teeth are still forming and can be nudged in the right direction with little force.
Full braces are usually not put on until all deciduous teeth are gone. An evaluation is set at the time the second diciduous molars are still present. This is usually at about age 12. Dr Shannon will be watching the growth pattern over time because there have been cases of all permanent teeth in place by age 9 or 10, especially girls who mature faster than boys.
Orthopedics is usually done before age 12 while the bone is still forming. There may be developmental issues due to mouth breathing from a child with allergies or many colds, prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use. These younger children will need appliances used to redirect bone growth in the proper directions. These forces are usually supplied by the tongue which sits against the roof of the mouth during proper nasal breathing. Dr Shannon will continually monitor breathing habits and oral issues as the young child develops to make sure everything is moving correctly.
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