A: Having your first baby is a wonderful, exciting, life changing, and maybe a little intimidating time. All of a sudden you are responsible for so many more things! One of those things is your child’s oral health. Two good things are that the teeth do not start appearing until your baby is about 6 months old, and of course any book or google search will give you lots of information. I have included a chart that shows when you can expect teething as well as when the primary teeth should fall out later. I got this from a google search!
What I may be able to help you with is my experience. There are some things to look out for that you may not come across in your reading, but are interesting and may be helpful. The first thing to remember is that as soon as a tooth appears, it is susceptible to decay. The normal rules apply here. Limit refined sugar and brush and floss twice a day. If there are spaces between the teeth, brushing only is fine. If a toddler comes into the office and has tooth decay, I look at several possible causes. The first is diet. Please never put your baby to sleep with a bottle of anything but water. Milk, formula, juice or soda will cause cavities if your baby falls asleep with that in their mouth. It can cause rampant and devastating tooth decay and loss. The second thing is called “lip tie”. There is a small muscle attachment that connects the middle of the upper lip to the gums above the two front teeth. If the muscle attaches too close to the teeth the lip will be held tight against the teeth. After nursing or a bottle, be sure to wipe the area clean or brush since food could be stuck against the teeth. It is an easy surgical procedure with a laser to move this attachment to a more appropriate area. Your pediatrician or dentist can advise you. The other possible cause of early tooth decay is a problem with the development of the teeth. Rarely teeth can form with thin or missing enamel. This makes the teeth more susceptible to decay.
Dental visits ideal should start around one year of age. Even if we can just get a look at the teeth it is helpful. A small problem detected early may head off a complicated problem later. We look for abnormalities like I mentioned above, but also we will just get to know your child. Your child can become comfortable at the office, and hopefully develop a routine of regular dental visits. Starting out right with dental care for your baby can reap a lifetime of healthy teeth.