Usually, we like to see your child for their first check-up at about age 2 - 3 years, when all their primary [deciduous] teeth have erupted. However, there are many measures that you as parents can take before this time to insure good oral health. To begin, if mom is not going to breast feed, the type of nipple used on the bottle can have a definite effect on the growth of the jaws and development of muscles and swallowing patterns. The NUK nipple has an optimal shape that fits the anatomy of your babys mouth. Upon first sight, many parents assume that its funny shape and size will cause the baby to reject it, and thus, shy away from using it. Try the NUK nipple for a few days. Most babies will accept it readily. Using the NUK will lessen the chance of your baby developing a colicky stomach and may prevent certain orthodontic conditions that wont become evident until your child is much older.
Perhaps, the most predictable and consistent preventive measure in dentistry is the ingestion of systemic [enters the blood stream] fluoride up to about age 14. The incorporation of fluoride into the tooth enamel allows the tooth to be more resistant to demineralization by acid and ensuing tooth decay. If your water district doesnt add fluoride to the water supply, your baby should be receiving fluoride drops of a fluoride/vitamin combination as soon as possible after birth. The first permanent molars are already calcifying by age 3 months. It is in this formative stage that the tooth will incorporate the greatest amount of fluoride. Studies have shown that fluoride will not cross the placental barrier, so pregnant woman no longer receive fluoride preparations. Systemic fluoride [at 1 part per million] is a safe and effective way to dramatically reduce dental decay, along with the cost of dental treatment. Please call our office to learn if your water is fluoridated, and if not, we will be able to prescribe the proper dosage.
On the average a baby will start to get their first teeth at about six months. Teething [tooth eruption] can cause discomfort for your baby, as well as many sleepless nights for you. During teething periods, your baby may exhibit excess drooling, runny noses, low-grade temperature and/or overall crankiness. To help this situation, you may purchase some 2 by 2 inch gauze pads at your pharmacy and lightly rub your babys gums with them several times a day. This will remove a thin layer of plaque that forms on their gums, thus lessening eruption pain. Most babies will find this massaging very soothing, and some will derive pleasure from sucking on the gauze or your finger. A clean teeth ring to chew on may also be helpful. Teething gels or ointments that will temporarily numb your babys gums and reduce discomfort are available at your pharmacist.
Nursing Bottle Syndrome
Many parents give their babies a bottle in bed to pacify him/her and enable them to fall asleep. Most people fill the bottle with milk, formula, fruit juice or water mixed with a sweetening agent such as Kayro syrup or honey. Unfortunately, as your baby falls asleep, the tongue and nipple on the bottle pool the liquid around certain teeth. The acidic and/or sugar content of these liquids can cause severe tooth decay. This is called nursing bottle or baby bottle syndrome. Dont allow your baby to become a dental cripple before his/her first check-up. If you must give them a bottle in bed, be sure to fill it only with plain water.