So, you got a little cozy with your hubby/wife or your quarantine bae during the lockdown, and then, nine months later … you’re a parent! Congratulations, you now have a quarantine baby! Well, time flies and your infant may not be so small anymore. Many babies born in the last 1-2 years are reaching their first important milestones. Speaking of stones, what are those little white bumps on your baby’s gums?
Their first teeth, how wonderful!
But are you prepared to care for them? Many new moms and dads aren’t exactly sure how to maintain optimal oral health for their little ones and have no idea when the first dental visit should happen. Well, I’m Dr. Ray Tucker, and I’m a board-certified pediatric dentist with eight years of experience treating the most severe tooth decay in young children. I’m now pivoting my career to emphasize a more effective strategy: PREVENTION. We all know it’s crucial but often neglect to implement effective prevention strategies in time.
Don’t worry. I’m here for you. Let’s talk.
Did you know that the BEST time for your child’s first dental visit with a pediatric dentist is between the time of their first tooth growing in and their first birthday? Don’t worry; this isn’t because any treatment is indicated. There are several huge benefits of this early introduction.
First, we take the opportunity to examine your child and make sure they don’t have congenital issues like tongue-tie or lip-tie. These can affect speech, tooth growth and nursing. We give mom and dad lots of easy-to-understand information like do’s and don’ts to prevent cavities, tooth brushing techniques with proper positioning, diet modifications, as well as counseling on harmful oral habits to avoid. Lastly, having your child visit an experienced pediatric dentist early and regularly will acclimate them to the dental experience. That way, as they grow, their visits become easier. And most importantly, in the event they do require some routine treatment, they will be MUCH more likely to tolerate it well. This allows us to avoid using sedations or sleep dentistry which can entail more difficulty or risk factors. It’s truly a win-win.
So, where do we start?
A better question to ask is, “Where do the problems start?” Without fail, the single most detrimental habit affecting children’s teeth is over-exposure to nutrient liquids in bottles and covered cups. This includes things like juice, kool-aid, soda, and even formula, and milk. I know what you’re thinking, “Milk is good for teeth and bones. Surely it cannot harm teeth.” Well, you’re half right. The calcium in milk is helpful in tooth and bone formation. However, unlike bones, the enamel on our teeth cannot heal or replace itself. So, once it’s gone, it’s gone. Milk contains different sugars than juice and soda, but over a long enough period, the germs in our mouth that make tooth decay happen can also use milk to do their dirty work.
Remember, it’s not how much sugar that causes cavities; it’s how long that sugar is in contact with teeth. So, if your baby sleeps with a milk bottle, nurses to sleep regularly, or carries a juice cup with them throughout the day, it’s unlikely that any amount of brushing will stop the destructive nature of a sugar-soaked mouth. Try to allow juice only during or right after meals. And limit it to four ounces per day. That includes organic juices. If it’s vitamins you’re after, fresh fruit is a much better source and has the added benefit of fiber too. The keyword is FRESH fruit. If you’re giving dried fruits or processed fruits like fruit roll-ups or dried mangoes, they have concentrated sugars and are essentially candy with fiber.
This info will greatly reduce the chance your little bundle of joy will require any unwanted dental procedure while they are too young to cooperate.
For more info, tips, and tooth tricks, please keep up with me @dr.raytucker and look out for more modern, evidence, and experienced-based content. Also, feel free to book your child’s first, or follow up visit at https://www.unionvillagekidsdentistry.com and click BOOK NOW.
Thank you, and happy brushing!
“I am a pediatric dentist with 8 years experience treating the most severe cases of dental decay, bottle rot, and oral neglect. I recently moved to Las Vegas from Portland, OR, and pivoted my practice to focus more on prevention rather than treatment. Now my goal is to give education and information to moms, dads, and kids, so that they have happier, healthier experiences and avoid drilling and filling. “
*This article is not a paid or sponsored contribution