A child's first dental visit should be scheduled around his/her first birthday. The most important part of the visit is getting to know and become comfortable with Dr. Abdoney and his staff. A pleasant and comfortable first visit builds trust and helps put the child at ease during future dental visits. If possible, we allow the child to sit in a parent's lap in the exam room. Children should be encouraged to discuss any fears or anxiety they feel.
Normally the first tooth erupts between ages 6 and 12 months. Gums are sore, tender and sometimes irritated until the age of 3. Rubbing sore gums gently with a clean finger, the back of a cold spoon or a cold, wet cloth helps soothe the gums. Teething rings work well, but avoid teething biscuits, which contain sugar that is not good for baby teeth.
While your baby is teething, it is important to monitor the teeth for signs of baby bottle decay. Examine the teeth, especially on the inside or the tongue side, every two weeks for dull spots (whiter than the tooth surface) or lines. A bottle containing anything other than water and left in an infant's mouth while sleeping can cause decay. This happens because sugar in the liquid mixes with bacteria in dental plaque, forming acids that attack the tooth enamel. Each time a child drinks liquids containing sugar, acids attack the teeth for about 20 minutes. When awake, saliva carries away the liquid. During sleep, the saliva flow significantly decreases and liquids pool around the child's teeth for long periods, covering the teeth in acids.
Infant Tooth Eruption
A child's teeth actually start forming before birth. As early as 4 months of age, the primary or "baby" teeth push through the gums. The lower central incisors are usually first, then the upper central incisors. The remainder of the 20 primary teeth typically erupt by age 3, but the place and order varies.
Permanent teeth begin eruption around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until around age 21. Adults have 28 (permanent) teeth- 32 including the third molars (wisdom teeth).
Sucking is a natural reflex that relaxes and comforts babies and toddlers. Children usually cease thumb sucking when the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Typically, children stop between the ages of 2 and 4 years. Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of primary teeth can cause improper growth of the mouth and misalignment of the teeth. If you notice prolonged and/or vigorous thumb sucking behavior in your child, talk to Dr. Abdoney.
Here are some ways to help your child outgrow thumb sucking:
- Don't scold a child when they exhibit thumb sucking behavior; instead, praise them when they don't thumb suck
- Focus on eliminating the cause of anxiety-thumb sucking is a comfort device that helps children cope with stress or discomfort
- Praise them when they refrain from the habit during difficult periods
- Use of bitter nail solution such as Mavala, which is used to remind children to keep their thumbs and fingers out of their mouth