Proper dental care begins with baby teeth

Most babies begin teething between 4 and 7 months of age. According to Gerald Ferretti, DDS, MS, MPH, Chief of Pediatric Dentistry at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, you can begin protecting your child’s oral health before his or her teeth develop with the following tips:

  • Do not put your little one to bed with a bottle of milk, juice, sweetened water or sugar-laden drinks, which can promote tooth decay.
  • Wipe your baby’s gums with a damp washcloth or soft infant toothbrush after meals.
  • Report any spots and stains on developing teeth to your child’s doctor or dentist.

Maintain a healthy mouth through childhood

Most of your child’s teeth will come in by age 2. Dr. Ferretti says to follow these tips to keep them intact until they fall out naturally, which usually begins around age 6:

  • Visit the pediatric dentist between ages 6 months and 1 year, or when your child’s first tooth appears. “Take him or her back as often as the dentist recommends – usually twice a year,” says Dr. Ferretti.
  • Feed your child a healthy diet. Think fruits and veggies instead of sugary foods.
  • Brush teeth twice a day.
  • Ask the dentist if cavity-fighting sealants are right for your child. Dr. Ferretti adds, “They can be applied to baby teeth or permanent teeth.”

Help children brush their teeth

“Until children are 6 to 8 years old, they will need help brushing their teeth,” says Dr. Ferretti. Teach proper brushing habits by following these simple steps:

  1. Use only a little toothpaste – the size of a pea.
  2. Hold the toothbrush at an angle against the child’s gums. Gently move the brush in short back-and-forth strokes.
  3. Brush the outside, inside and chewing surface of the teeth. Brush for two minutes.
  4. Have the child spit out the toothpaste and rinse well.

Special care for tiny teeth

The Irving and Jeanne Tapper Pediatric Dental Center provides high-quality, compassionate care to children, including those with medical or develop­mental challenges. To schedule an appointment, call 216-UH4-KIDS (844-5437) or visit RainbowBabies.org.

Gerald Ferretti

GERALD FERRETTI, DDS, MS, MPH
Chief, Pediatric Dentistry, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital
Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

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