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Oral Health Begins with Baby Teeth Say NC Dentists

A child’s primary teeth – often called “baby teeth” – are as important as permanent adult teeth says Dr. Skip Tyson, a pediatric dentist in Wilmington, N.C.
“Primary teeth usually begin appearing at about age 6 months to one year and help children chew and speak,” Tyson says. These teeth also hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth that follow. It is very important to keep these teeth healthy.” “We recommend that children have their first dental exam after the first tooth comes in and no later than the first birthday.”
Tyson also offers some tips to parents when caring for young children’s’ teeth: Some babies may have sore or tender gums, so gently rubbing gums with a clean finger, a small cool spoon or wet gauze pad can be soothing. A clean teething ring is also acceptable; Begin cleaning the baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth. After every feeding, wipe the baby’s gums with a clean wash cloth to remove plaque (a sticky film of bacteria and residual food) that can harm erupting teeth; As soon as teeth appear, tooth decay can occur. Brush primary teeth gently with a child’s toothbrush and water; After the child turns two, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, being sure the child spits out the toothpaste and rinses with water following brushing. (Consult your dentist if you’re considering using fluoride toothpaste before age two); The risk of oral infection can also be lowered if the mother maintains good oral health reducing the amount of bacteria in her mouth that can be transmitted to the child. Sharing saliva through feeding spoons and licking pacifiers should be avoided; Most children have a full set of 20 primary teeth by the time they are three years old; Encourage healthy eating habits with a diet rich in vegetables, fruit and whole grains. Serve nutritious snacks and limit sweets at mealtimes.
“One huge caution for parents is to never put a baby to bed with a bottle,” Tyson warns, “especially one that contains fruit juice, sweetened water, breast milk or formula. Any liquid containing sugar can be harmful. Babies should finish their bottle before going down for a nap or going to sleep at night. Water should be the last thing that hits their teeth.” “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay” or “Early Childhood Caries (Cavities)” can be caused by putting soft drinks or other sugary liquids in a bottle at bedtime. “This disease most often occurs in the front teeth, but other teeth can also be affected in infants and toddlers,” Tyson says. “In some unfortunate cases, decay can become so severe that the teeth cannot be repaired and must be removed.
The good news is that decay is totally preventable.”