Early Dental Care



Normally the first tooth erupts between ages 6 to 12 months. Gums are sore, tender and sometimes irritable until the age of 3. Rubbing sore gums gently with a clean finger, the back of a cold spoon or a cold, wet cloth helps soothe the gums. Teething rings work well, but avoid teething biscuits—they contain sugar that is not good for baby teeth.

While your baby is teething, it is important to monitor the teeth for signs of baby bottle decay. Examine the teeth, especially on the inside or the tongue side, every two weeks for dull spots (whiter than the tooth surface) or lines. A bottle containing anything other than water and left in an infant’s mouth while sleeping can cause decay. This happens because sugar in the liquid mixes with bacteria in dental plaque, forming acids that attack the tooth enamel. Each time a child drinks liquids containing sugar, acids attack the teeth for about 20 minutes. When awake, saliva carries away the liquid. During sleep, the saliva flow significantly decreases and liquids pool around the child’s teeth for long periods, covering the teeth in acids.

Infant’s New Teeth

The primary, or “baby,” teeth play a crucial role in dental development. Without them, a child cannot chew food properly and has difficulty speaking clearly. Primary teeth are vital to development of the jaws and for guiding the permanent (secondary) teeth into place when they replace the primary teeth around age 6.

Since primary teeth guide the permanent teeth into place, infants with missing primary teeth or infants who prematurely lose primary teeth may require a space maintainer, a device used to hold the natural space open. Without a maintainer, the teeth can tilt toward the empty space and cause permanent teeth to come in crooked. Missing teeth should always be mentioned to your family dentist. The way your child cares for his/her primary teeth plays a critical role in how he/she treats the permanent teeth. Children and adults are equally susceptible to plaque and gum problems—hence, the need for regular care and dental checkups.

A Child’s First Dental Visit

A child’s first dental visit should be scheduled around his/her first birthday. The most important part of the visit is getting to know and becoming comfortable with a doctor and his staff. A pleasant, comfortable first visit builds trust and helps put the child at ease during future dental visits. If possible, allow the child to sit in a parent’s lap in the exam room. Children should be encouraged to discuss any fears or anxiety they feel.

Why Primary Teeth Are Important

Primary teeth are important for several reasons. Foremost, good teeth allow a child to eat and maintain good nutrition. Healthy teeth allow for clear pronunciation and speech habits. The self-image that healthy teeth give a child is immeasurable. Primary teeth also guide eruption of the permanent teeth.

Good Diet and Healthy Teeth

Just like regular brushing,flossing and semi-annual dental check-ups, proper nutrition plays a critical role in the development of your child's teeth. A proper, balanced diet is one of the best things you can do as a parent to help ensure your child grows up with strong teeth and gums and a healthy smile.
A healthy diet is a balanced diet that naturally supplies all the nutrients your child needs to grow. This includes fruits and vegetables; bread and cereals; milk and dairy products; meat, fish and eggs.
A balance diet is important for long term dental health. What your child eats is important for healthy teeth, but it's just as important to be careful about "When" and "How Often" they eat.
All foods can cause cavities in the absence of good oral hygiene. Tooth decay is caused by the reaction of sugar in foods with plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky, often colorless film that forms in our mouths every day. The bacteria in plaque use food to make acids, and these acids attack tooth enamel. This process leads to the formation of cavities. Frequency of eating and the amount of time sugar remains on the teeth increases the risk of tooth decay.
Limiting the consumption of fruit juices is very important. We understand that most children are not going to drink just water all of the time. However, be mindful of the harmful effects that many other drinks have. Juice (even 100% natural) are high in sugar. Try to limit juices to meal time and offer water to drink throughout the day.
It's not only sugars that can harm your child's teeth. Drinking sports drinks and carbonated sodas can do immense damage to teeth that lead to serious decay problems. Theses types of drinks not only contain large amounts of sugar, they also contain acids that eat away at the enamel of the teeth and make your child more prone to decay and dental enamel erosion.

                                 Do's and Don'ts essential for healthy teeth

Eating a balance diet is one that includes fruits and vegetables; breads and cereals; milk and dairy products; meat fish and eggs.
Eat crunchy healthy fruits and vegetables such as carrots and apples. Not only do they provide great nutrition, but are also a natural way to clean the teeth.
Minimize starchy foods such as breads,crackers,pasta,pretzels and potato chips. Remember, some foods that contain sugar and starches are much safer for the teeth if they are consumed with a meal and not as a snack.
Be aware that some presumably health foods such as peanut butter, jelly, catsup, raisins, dried fruits, fruit strips and granola bars contain sugars that can breakdown and promote decay. Be sure your child brushes after eating these kinds of snacks.

 Eat sweet or sticky foods between meals. Sticky foods, such as raisins, dried fruits and gummie bears have more cavity-causing potential because they are not easily washed away from the teeth by saliva, water or milk.
 Eat a diet that's high in carbohydrates like sugar and starches. This puts your child at a much higher risk for cavities.
 Allow your child to drink excessive amounts of juices, sports drinks or sodas.
 Put your child to bed with a bottle containing formula, milk, juice or other sweet liquids. As your child sleeps, the liquid begins to pool in their mouth, essentially bathing their new teeth in enamel-destroying bacteria. A bottle with water is a much more reasonable alternative.

Infant Tooth Eruption

A child’s teeth actually start forming before birth. As early as 4 months of age, the primary or “baby” teeth push through the gums—the lower central incisors are first, then the upper central incisors. The remainder of the 20 primary teeth typically erupt by age 3, but the place and order varies.

Permanent teeth begin eruption around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until around age 21. Adults have 28 secondary (permanent) teeth—32 including the third molars (wisdom teeth).


Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Tooth decay in infants can be minimized or totally prevented by not allowing sleeping infants to breast or bottle-feed. Infants that need a bottle to comfortably fall asleep should be given a water-filled bottle or a pacifier. Our office is dedicated to fighting baby bottle tooth decay. Let us know if you notice any signs of decay or anything unusual in your child’s mouth.