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ParentingBaby

Smile Baby Smile: How to Take Care of Your Little One’s Teeth

How to make sure that your tots’ adorable curved-up rosy lips reveal a perfect set of tiny sparkly milk teeth.

toothbrushCare for baby’s first set of pearly whites, on to her permanent teeth should be given top priority.

However, not many parents know that there are dentists who specialize in children’s dental care.

Pedodontists or pediatric dentists do not only make babies’ smiles more enchanting, but they also assure smiles on parents’ delighted faces, knowing their bundles of joy are given the best oral/dental attention.

Dr. Eric Hernandez, a Diplomate in the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry, a Fellow in the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and a member of the College of Diplomates of the A.B.P.D., explains, “Pediatric dentists are trained to watch for abnormalities and to recognize oral disease before it gets worse.”

After two to three years specialty training following dental school, they then concentrate on pediatric medicine, child psychology, and growth and development and focuses primarily on treating children, from infancy onto adolescence.

Dr. Hernandez advises parents to “plan your first dental visit around 6 months but no later than 1 year, or with the appearance of a child’s first tooth. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems.” He says children with healthy teeth chew food easily, learn to speak clearly, and smile with confidence.

A well-cared for set of primary or baby teeth also aid in forming a path for permanent teeth to follow when they are ready to erupt. At age 2 to 2 1/2 years, the complete set of baby teeth should have already come out. Dentists would then have a good idea how the child’s permanent teeth will be like.

Dr. Meg Rivera-Jugueta, D.D.M., often teaches proper dental care to preschoolers. She advises, “It is important for the child’s first dental appointment to be friendly, short and pain-free. I usually give a token of a balloon or toy to young kids as a reward for their bravery and cooperation on their first visit. I end the session with an affectionate gesture like a hug or a “flying kiss” to seal our rapport.”

 

Click here to see expert advice on teething tots.

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Read more to see expert advice on teething tots.

 

Tips for teething tots
We can’t always avoid eating tooth-decaying food. Here are some teeth care tips from Dr. Matthew Arce, D.M.D.:
•    Regularly dental check-ups. Have your teeth checked by your dentist at least every six months for cleaner teeth that last longer. Your dentist can make sure your teeth are cleaned thoroughly and prevent any impending tooth threats.  
•    Brushing and flossing should be done regularly. Brushing the teeth is important because it controls the formation of dental plaque that predisposes teeth to decay. Brush after every meal or at least twice a day; one in the morning and right before bedtime is ideal. Flossing, on the other hand, is important once a day to clean those parts of the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach.
•    Use fluoride wisely. When it comes to formation of teeth, fluoride incorporated in the tooth structure makes the enamel stronger. Studies have shown that fluoride can prevent decay by up to 50% because of its anti -bacterial effect on several germs that cause decay and makes dental plaque difficult to attach to the tooth. But one can brush his teeth with plain water and his toothbrush, as too much fluoride can be harmful for little ones.
•    For teething tots: Be conscious of mannerisms or habits kids have like biting their lips. This innocent gesture and the like may unwittingly affect and modify the natural formation of a child’s teeth. Likewise, sucking the thumb, prolonged use of a pacifier, or tipping up the milk bottle more than 45 degrees may push the lower teeth out of its natural alignment.
Avoid letting babies sleep with their milk bottles in their mouth, as this may cause “bottle-feeding caries or cavities” due to the prolonged soaking of the teeth in milk, which usually has sugar content.


Photography by David Hanson Ong

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