Dr. James C. DeFinnis's Dental Blog

Wilkes Barre Family Dentist Dr. James C. DeFinnis

February is Dental Health Month for Children

Here are some facts that you should know:

Why are baby teeth important?

A. They help a child learn how to speak properly.

B. Baby teeth help to build a child’s self esteem.

C. Baby teeth make sure that there is enough room for permanent teeth to come in.

D. Baby teeth are important for feeding and good nutrition in children.

E. Tooth decay can cause infection, poor nutrition, poor weight gain and early loss of baby teeth that could damage permanent teeth.

How can I prevent tooth decay in my infant or toddler?

A. Starting the first few days after birth, take a wet cloth and wipe it over your baby’s gums after each feeding.

B. Never give your baby a pacifier dipped in soda or other sugar filled drinks.

C. Frequent consumption of foods high in sugar (for example, candy, cookies, sweetened beverages, fruit juice) greatly increase the risk of developing tooth decay.

D. If your must put your baby to bed with a bottle, make sure it is filled only with water.

E. Babies who fall asleep with milk or juices tend to develop baby bottle tooth decay – decay that forms when children are allowed to drink sugary liquids throughout the day and night from a bottle.

F. Use a cotton swab or small toothbrush to clean the baby’s teeth daily to remove plaque.

G. Once a month, perform a lift the lip exam on your child to check for decay.

a. Have your child sit on the floor and look up at you. Lift their lip and check the front and back of the top and bottom teeth. Look for white spots and/or dark stains on your child’s teeth. White spots on teeth can be a sign of early tooth decay or cavities and dark stains may indicate current tooth decay. If you see any spots or stains, call us. In addition, make sure you brush your child’s teeth each day using a very small smear of toothpaste without fluoride.

H. Avoid sharing silverware or chewing food for your baby.

a. Bacteria that live in your mouth can cause tooth decay in your baby’s mouth.

I. Promote breastfeeding rather than feeding with infant formula.

a. If using formula, “ready –to-feed” formula is preferred over formula mixed with water containing fluoride during the first year of life to help ensure that infants do not exceed the optimal amount of fluoride intake.

b. If using powdered or liquid concentrate infant formula, it should be mixed with water that is fluoride-free or contains low levels of fluoride to reduce the risk of fluorosis.

J. Use a sippy cup only as a temporary transition between a bottle and a regular cup. 

K. Tooth decay is an infectious disease! To avoid transmitting to your child the germs or bacteria that cause tooth decay, keep dental plaque off of your teeth by brushing and flossing.

a. Dental plaque is made up of the germs or bacteria that cause tooth decay.

How can I prevent tooth decay in my school-aged child?

A. Toothbrushing at least two times a day using toothpaste with fluoride.

B. Until your child is 6 or 7, you or another adult should help your child in brushing and flossing their teeth.

C. Once a child has two teeth touching each other, it is important to begin flossing the child’s teeth once a day.

a. Parents should floss their child’s teeth until the child is approximately 9 years old.

D. Only use a smear sized amount of toothpaste with fluoride on your child’s toothbrush.

a. Make sure they spit the toothpaste out instead of swallowing it.

E. Give your child juice only at mealtimes and not throughout the day.

F. Giving your child healthy meals and snacks and teaching them healthy habits.

What else do I need to know?

A. It is important to brush and floss everyday because there are serious consequences from not taking care of your teeth.

a. These consequences include: Bad breath, tooth decay, tooth loss, pain, infection, and gum disease.

B. Make brushing fun for your children. Be enthusiastic, it is contagious.

C. Remember to be a good example for your child because they learn their good dental habits from you.


February 24, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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