Sunday, May 15, 2011

Babies & Dental Hygiene

Dental hygiene should begin shortly after a child is born. A newborn oral care is important to maintain clean and healthy gums. After every feeding a clean, warm wash cloth should be used to gently cleanse the inside of the mouth. 
Thrush, a treatable fungal infection caused by Candida (yeast), often appears in areas of the mouth that may have torn tissue, caused by the constant sucking on a pacifier, bottle, or during breastfeeding. The tiny tears remain moist and, if not removed manually, the yeast may cause the painful condition. Signs of thrush include:
  •     White patches that appear to coat the tongue, inside tissue of the cheek, and gums
  •     Irregular-shaped patches that are not able to be wiped away, sticking to the tissue
  •     Pain when feeding or using a pacifier
If left untreated, a nursing mother may develop thrush on her breast, although is not typically considered contagious. See your doctor or dentist and he may prescribe a medication to clear up the infection.

So Much Pain for Such Small Teeth

Teething can begins around 3 months old but typically begins when your child is 6 to 7 months old. Signs of teething may include:
  •     Excessive drooling
  •     Irritability
  •     "Gumming" or biting
  •     Appearance of a rash around the mouth, or on the face
  •     Decrease in appetite
  •     Excessive crying
  •     Loss of appetite
  •     Feverish
  •     Changes in bowel movements

 Dental hygiene isn't just for people with teeth

How to clean baby's mouth? Begin by gently wiping his gums with a clean, wet washcloth or gauze after he has a feeding. Infants are very focused on their mouths, so he should enjoy this touching. As he starts to sprout teeth, the feeling of the wet washcloth on his itchy, irritated gums will be very soothing. Wiping his gums will help eliminate decay-causing bacteria and will help him get used to having his teeth brushed later on.
Once he has a tooth, between 6 and 12 months, you can introduce an infant toothbrush. Make sure it has soft, rounded bristles so it won't scratch his gums. Brushing with just water is fine, but if your dentist recommends toothpaste, use a very small amount, about the size of a pea. Babies usually enjoy the flavor of toothpaste and often swallow it, and ingestion of fluoride can cause problems over time.
Brush his teeth after every feeding, and again at bedtime. By now he should enjoy the feeling of having his gums massaged and his teeth cleaned!
Keeping your baby's teeth clean is more important than you may realize. Baby teeth have thinner enamel than adult teeth and are more vulnerable to the bacteria that cause decay. Decay in a baby's tooth is swift and destructive; it quickly penetrates the enamel, then the dentin, and then infects the nerve.
Baby teeth eventually fall out, so why should it matter if they are lost early? Most dentists believe that baby teeth should remain in the mouth as long as possible, to serve as placeholders for the adult tooth that will follow. When baby teeth are lost early, the surrounding teeth often tilt and move toward the empty space. This can cause the permanent teeth to come in crooked.

One in every 2,000 babies is born with one or more teeth. This is referred to as a natal tooth. Teeth that appear in the first month of life are referred to as neonatal teeth.

The first teeth that will appear are usually the lower incisors, commonly known as the two front teeth. By the age of three, children should have their complete set of 20 "pearly whites." When the first teeth start to appear, buy a toothbrush designed for the age of your child, usually this is indicated on the packaging, and gently cleanse the entire tooth without toothpaste. Beginning at around 18 months, you may choose to introduce a tooth cleansing paste that is safe to swallow and does not contain fluoride. Many brands of children's toothpaste are available in your local retail store. When in doubt, ask the pharmacist to recommend a brand for you. Different types of baby toothbrushes are on the market; choose one that is right for you and your child.
 Infant Tooth Care

As soon as your child gets his first tooth, you should begin cleaning his teeth and gums after feedings with a moist gauze pad or washcloth.

    Infant/Child Tooth Brushing

When your child is comfortable with a toothbrush, brush his teeth twice a day with a special, extra soft infant toothbrush. Use a small dab of toothpaste if your child likes it and if you're sure he won't swallow it. Otherwise it's fine to brush without toothpaste. It's a good idea to keep some disclosing tablets on hand. The dye in these tablets will stain remaining plaque a bright red, making it easy to see and thus easy to remove.

    Infant/Child Tooth Flossing

Gently floss your child's teeth each day, and pay particular attention to areas where the teeth are close together. Regularly help your child brush and floss until he's 7 to 10 years old and able to effectively keep the plaque off his teeth by himself. After that, check his efforts occasionally.

Early Childhood Caries

Early Childhood Cavities (ECC), more commonly known as "baby bottle tooth decay" is a condition that affects children up to the age of three, or as long as they remain using a bottle. Although rare, ECC may indicate the potential risk for severe tooth decay when the child develops his adult teeth. ECC is caused by:
  •     Sugars and carbohydrates in the child's diet
  •     Beverages that contain sugar such as milk, infant formula, fruit juice, or any other liquid that contain or is sweetened with sugar.
  •     Bacteria transferred from the caregiver to the child
  •     The frequency of feedings
  •     Allowing a child to fall asleep with bottle that contains any liquid other than pure water.


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