Most infants start cutting teeth by the time they’re four to six months old. Oral care is important from the very beginning. Properly tending to your baby’s teeth can prevent common problems like “baby bottle tooth decay” and even speech delays.
At Westlake Pediatric Dentistry, the top trusted pediatric dentist in Austin, Texas, we specialize in infants and children’s dental care, even from a very young age. We can help provide your child enjoy a healthy smile for years, thanks to prevention focused exams, cleanings, and restorative treatment as needed.
When Should My Infant First See the Dentist?
As a rule of thumb, children should have their first dental checkup by the time they’ve cut their first tooth, or by the time of their first birthday – whichever comes first. Preventative cleanings can begin around the age of three or four, depending on how cooperative they are. All of their baby teeth should be in by around age 2-3. From then on, regular dental cleanings should be done on a bi-annual basis.
Seeing our pediatric dentist in Austin this early will help ensure that we catch any problems before they get too severe. Many we may even be able to intercept and correct without invasive forms of treatment. Also, early care lays a good foundation for your child to understand the importance of good oral hygiene and reduces anxiety related to visiting the dentist.
Recognizing Signs of Teething and What You Can Do
Teething is something that every parent will go through with their child. It can be a frustrating situation seeing your little one suffer and not knowing how to help. First, here are some signs that your child might be teething. It’s important to be able to recognize them, so that you can address symptoms properly.
- Low-Grade Fever
- Loss of Appetite
- Gnawing on Objects
It helps to keep a bib on your child when they’re drooling excessively. Also, try to dry their face and neck as much as possible as prolonged exposure to saliva can make their skin prone to breakout.
For irritability, restlessness and a low-grade fever – try using over the counter pain relievers, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
If your infant is refusing to eat but is constantly wanting to gnaw on things, then you could try giving them something edible to chew on. Cold or partially frozen fruit is a good way to get food in them and it also provide their sore gums with some relief. An apple or pear slice work great, just be sure to peel the skin first and supervise your child at all times to prevent any choking hazards. You could also try a carrot or a cucumber.
Home care for Your Infant’s Teeth and Gums
Before your infant even starts to cut teeth, you should begin a daily oral hygiene routine. This will get your child used to having a toothbrush or finger in their mouth; that way when dental care does become of the utmost importance – they don’t fight you on it.
For infants without teeth, you can wrap a wet washcloth around your finger and massage their gums with it. Babies love this – especially when they’re teething. When the towel is cold it soothes their gums and helps provide relief.
Once your child starts to cut teeth, our Austin pediatric dentist recommends that you start brushing them with a soft bristle toothbrush. Use a fluoride toothpaste to provide essential minerals, but only enough the size of about a grain of rice. Brush gently and not too quickly. Try to do this twice a day to get your child used to it, and to help avoid unnecessary dental issues.
Avoiding Common Dental Problems in Infants and Toddlers
Baby bottle tooth decay is a serious condition that unfortunately, our pediatric dentist in Austin sees quite regularly. Frequent and prolonged exposure to sugary drinks like juice or milk (yes – milk has sugar too) causes cavities. Acid and sugar quickly erode tooth enamel in infants. Have a drinking schedule for your child. Don’t let them sip on it all day, or take a bottle with them to bed at night. Also, get them used to drinking water between meals and don’t forget to brush their teeth.
Pacifiers are a good tool to use initially for soothing a fussy baby. They also help develop stronger facial muscles. However, your infant should not grow dependent on their pacifier. Prolonged use causes oral development malformities.
By the time your child starts teething you should replace the pacifier with something else – like a teething ring. If pacifiers are still being used after the age of two, the formation of the palate (roof of the mouth) can be altered, as well as the “bite” (occlusion) of their teeth. For example, when the child bites down, their front teeth don’t come together. Rather, an open space where the pacifier goes is evident. This is known as an “open bite.” It’s a problem that can’t be corrected on its own. An intervention will be needed in order to align everything properly; braces will most likely be required. Luckily, our expert team also provides braces in Austin, Texas. So, if a pacifier has been a problem for your child, we can take a look and see if it has affected their oral anatomy in any way and address underlying issues from there.
We Have Everything You Need
Dr. Kyle Raymond and the staff of Westlake Pediatric Dentistry would love to be your child’s pediatric dentist in Austin, Texas! We provide comprehensive orthodontics and pediatric dental care in our office, without the need of taking your family anywhere else.
Remember, we see infants as early as six months of age! We also love to see children with special needs. Our office provides sedation to help our wiggly or nervous patients have a pleasant experience during their care. Our goal is to develop a positive relationship with your little one that’ll lead to a lifetime of healthy smiles and upbeat experiences with our dentist in Austin. Call Westlake Pediatric Dentistry today at 512-732-0022 to schedule!