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Brushing your Baby’s Teeth: How to Start a Healthy Habit

November 10, 2017

Brushing your child’s teeth may be just another daunting task that is added to your daily parenting “to do” list, but it is more than just a daily task. It is the beginning of your child’s journey to establishing good oral hygiene habits that will last a lifetime.  

Establishing a good oral hygiene routine starts the day your child is born. It starts with daily wiping of the gums after feedings and extends all the way to brushing those first baby teeth buds that painfully start to erupt when your child is approximately four months. It eventually ends with full brushing of your child’s teeth until they are capable of proper brushing on their own.

We want to help you as you work to establish healthy habits for your child. To help you, we have created a complete guide that will walk you through everything you need to know about brushing your child’s teeth and creating healthy habits.

Healthy Habits Start the Day Your Child is Born

It is hard to imagine, but healthy oral habits start the day your child is born. Of course, you won’t be using a toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash just yet, but you will be taking precautions to make sure your child’s gums are healthy.

The healthier your child’s gums are the better chance your child has of developing healthy, strong baby teeth. Keeping your child’s gums healthy is relatively easy. It just takes a little bit of water and some gauze or washcloth.

When caring and cleaning your baby’s gums, do the following things:

  • Use a very soft washcloth or section of gauze. A soft gauze or washcloth is needed so you do not irritate your child’s gums. Irritating your child’s gums can cause your child pain or bleeding gums.
  • Moisten the gauze or washcloth with a little bit of water. Do not over saturate the washcloth or gauze, just get it slightly damp.
  • Use the washcloth or gauze to wipe down your child’s gums
  • Wipe down your child’s gums after every feeding and right before bed. If you are unable to do this at least make sure you wipe your child’s gums at least twice a day.  

Wiping your child’s gums is important because it helps get rid of bacteria. Bacteria enter the mouth from formula and milk that your child consumes. If bacteria are not removed, it will stick to the gums and create plaque. That plaque can, and will, destroy baby teeth as they start to grow in.

Brushing Your Child’s Baby Teeth

Once your child’s baby teeth start growing, it is time to pull out the toothbrush. You may have to use a combination of washcloth/gauze and toothbrush for a while until all your child’s teeth grow in. However, the minute you see a baby tooth growing, it is time to use a toothbrush.

To brush your child’s baby teeth, do the following things:

  • Use only water for the first few teeth. Water should be until your child’s baby teeth fully erupt through the gums.
  • Use a child’s toothbrush that has a large handle, small bristle head, and soft bristles.
  • Use an appropriate amount of toothpaste for your child’s age. Children under the age of three should use toothpaste that is approximately the size of a grain of rice. After the age of three, increase the amount of toothpaste used and use approximately a pea-sized amount.
  • Brush your child’s teeth at least three times a day. Try to brush after every meal, but make sure you brush at least three times a day.
  • Brush all sides of your child’s teeth – front, back, and tops.
  • Gently brush your child’s teeth to prevent your child from experiencing pain or bleeding gums
  • Use a toothpaste that contains a small amount of fluoride in it
  • Supervise your child’s teeth brushing until they are six years old

While brushing your child’s teeth, look for any visible signs of tooth decay. Even though your child’s baby teeth are new, they are not invincible to tooth decay. Visible signs of tooth decay include pits or cracks, white spots, or brown staining. If you notice any of these signs, make an appointment with a pediatric dentist.

Even if you don’t notice any signs of tooth decay, once your child’s teeth start to grow in it is important that you start visiting a pediatric dentist on a regular basis. A pediatric dentist will monitor your child’s oral health and make sure their teeth are cavity-free.

Dr. Maggie Davis is an amazing experienced pediatric dentist located in Palm Harbor, Florida. Our dental staff will gladly answer any questions you may have about tooth and gum care or infant tooth decay. Call our dental office today to schedule an appointment with our kind, caring staff.  

Why Baby Teeth Matter

April 11, 2016

A child’s primary teeth, sometimes called baby teeth, are as important as the permanent adult teeth. A baby’s 20 primary teeth are already present in the jaws at birth and typically begin to appear when a baby is between 6 months and 1 year.

When teeth first come in, some babies may have sore or tender gums. Gently rubbing your child’s gums with a clean finger, a small, cool spoon or a wet gauze pad can be soothing to them. You can also give the baby a clean teething ring to chew on. If your child is still cranky and in pain, consult your dentist or physicians. Most children have a full set of twenty primary teeth by the time they are three.

So you might be wondering at this point why baby teeth matter. They fall out anyway and are replaced by permanent teeth, right? Not only do primary teeth help children chew and speak, they also hold space in the jaws for the permanent teeth that are growing under the gums. When a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in. This can make teeth crooked or crowded. That’s why starting infants off with good oral care can help protect their teeth for decades to come.

The ADA recommends that a dentist examine a child within six months after the first tooth comes in and no later than the first birthday. A dental visit at an early age is a “well baby checkup” for the teeth. Besides checking for tooth decay and other problems, the dentist can show you how to clean the child’s teeth properly and how to evaluate any adverse habits such as thumb sucking.

Secrets to a Great Checkup: Part Two

March 21, 2016

A trip to the dentist should be easy and painless for you and your child, so why not continue our series and finish up these great tips to help make your next trip a dentist’s dream rather than a nightmare:

Leave Your Anxiety at the Door
If your heart races at the very thought of the dentist, your child can probably tell. Kids pick up on parents’ anxiety. The younger your kids are, the more you need to be aware of how you’re communicating with them. For example, if your child asks about getting a cavity filled, don’t say, “It will only hurt for a little bit.” Instead, encourage your child to ask the dentist.

Keep Cool If Your Child Won’t Cooperate
If your child gets upset during her visit, the worst thing you can do is swoop them out of the chair and leave, because the next visit is going to be harder. First, assess why your child is acting out. Are they truly afraid, or are they trying to test the situation? Once you’ve figured it out, work as a team with your dentist to keep the visit going. Let the dentist lead the conversation. Jump in where you think it helps most, while still allowing the dentist and your child to build a good relationship.

Take a Card (or Three) on Your Way Out
Accidents can happen whether your child is in sports camp, gym class or just walking down the street. In case of emergency, make sure your child’s teachers and coaches have all the medical contact information they need – including your dentist’s number. Grab business cards for your wallet, your child’s backpack and your school’s files.

We hope that these tips help make your child’s early visits to the dentist easier, and allow for a wonderful experience that will reflect on how they view dental visits and procedures for the rest of their life.

Secrets to a Great Checkup: Part One

March 7, 2016

Prevention and early detection can help avoid pain, trouble eating, difficulty speaking, and school absences for your child. Here are some great tips to a successful dentist visit in the first of this month’s series:

Plan Ahead
There are certain times of the year that are extra busy for dentists, so it’s important to plan ahead. August is often a hectic time because school is starting, so planning a head is the best. Make it a habit to call when your child gets their spring report card each year.

Encourage Age-Appropriate Dental Habits at Home
For children ages six and under, your child might want to do all the brushing themselves, but they don’t have the fine motor skills to do a thorough job just yet. Let them start, and jump in as needed. From ages seven to twelve, your child knows what to do, but might not want to. Keep encouraging healthy brushing and flossing habits. From twelve to eighteen, this is a critical time for dental health, so don’t let your teen’s habits become out of sight, out of mind. Support and respect are important, because they’re not kids anymore.

Timing is Everything
The time of day can make or break your child’s appointment. Don’t schedule an appointment during regular naptime, and if your child is cranky after waking up, take that into consideration as well. Also, for older children, avoid cramming in a dentist appointment right after day camp or school. Not all kids have the energy to do that.

A Hungry Child Is Not a Happy Patient
Feed your child a light meal before the appointment. Hungry people are grouchy people. It’s also generally a good idea not to feed them in the waiting room before you see the dentist because there’s all that food in their mouth. Eating light is also better for a child with a healthy gag reflex. Bonus points if your child brushes before an appointment. It’s very polite!

Keep an eye out for the second blog in our series; you’ll be a visitation pro before your child can say “cheese!”

Welcome to Your First Visit!

August 25, 2015

Pediatric dentistry is extremely important, but many parents don’t realize that it should start as soon as you start seeing little teeth in your child’s mouth. Dr. Maggie Davis’s office recommends, along with the American Academy of Pediatricians, that you should bring your baby to the dentist as soon as their first tooth erupts. While this may seem a bit early for dental treatment, this appointment is very important for your child. Here are a few things you can expect at your child’s first appointment and why we believe they are so important to your child’s development.

  • The first appointment is really to get your child acquainted with the office and their new dentist. They’ll get to play in the playroom, see all the fun tools we’ll be using to clean their teeth. Including Mr. Tickle, our tooth polisher. They’ll even get to play in the chair while meeting Dr. Maggie.
  • Maggie will check out that brand new tooth and coach you on how to keep this one, and the ones that will soon follow, clean and healthy. She’ll also go over healthy eating habits, developmental milestones, and how you can keep your child’s teeth clean in between visits.
  • After all this fun, you and your child get leave our office with a whole bunch of new friends that you will get to see every six months.

There is no such thing as a silly question at Dr. Maggie Davis Pediatric Dentistry. This first visit is for you to ask all the questions you can think of ,and to meet a very important person who can aid in your child’s development. Please bring your questions. We cannot wait to meet you and your baby, and start this lifelong journey to impeccable oral health.