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Dental Care for Babies

There is this belief among some people that dental care for babies isn't an important issue because those 'baby' teeth will be replaced by permanent teeth. They believe that because baby teeth fall out, the focus should be on the child's permanent teeth.
It's true that primary teeth fall out and are replaced by permanent teeth. But one of the most important reasons to teach proper dental care to children is so that the habits they learn early will stick with them throughout the rest of their lives. If good dental habits aren't in place by the time permanent teeth begin appearing, which is around 6 years of age, developing good habits will be more difficult later on. Most babies start getting teeth when they are 6 months old. The bottom row central incisors typically are the first to appear, followed by the top row central incisors. All together there are 20 primary teeth and they usually erupt according to a 'schedule' that most infants follow. The last primary teeth to erupt are the second molars and they'll appear between the ages of 2 and 3. If not properly cared for, an infant's teeth can begin to decay from the moment they first erupt. Infant dental decay is painful and should be avoided. Of course, at only 6 months old, an infant does not have the physical or mental skills needed to brush his teeth. At this stage of life, it's up to the caregiver to clean a baby's teeth using either a toothbrush designed for an infant or a very soft washcloth. Just gently brush or rub the tooth (teeth) once a day, before bed. Pediatric dentists advise that the first dental visit take place when the baby turns 1. That first visit is important and the dentist will want to ensure your baby is getting fluoride from his drinking water. If not, the dentist can write a prescription for fluoride which will help protect the child's developing teeth from dental decay. If a baby's teeth are showing signs of spotting or staining and the baby has not yet turned one, it's a good idea to visit the dentist sooner. To keep decay under control, don't give infants sugary drinks, especially at night from a bottle. During the day, don't fill a baby bottle with sweet drinks to use as a pacifier. Keep in mind that most milk and formula and even fruit drinks contain sugar. Doing any of the above can cause baby bottle tooth decay. It's not a good idea to coat a pacifier with sugar either as that can also lead to decay. At age 2, children can begin daily brushing using a small dab of fluoride toothpaste. Be sure to supervise the tooth brushing. At meal and snack time, steer clear of sugary drinks, foods and snacks. Teaching your child early on to eat vegetables and healthy snacks will limit tooth decay and is an excellent way to instill good eating habits.