Your babyís first tooth will probably appear between the ages of 5 and 7
months, though some may get their first tooth a little earlier, and
others a little later. Most often, the two middle bottom teeth pop
through first, followed by the middle two upper teeth. By the time your
child is about 2 Ĺ years old, all 20 baby teeth will most likely be
While each child
experiences teething differently, the most common symptoms of teething
include drooling more than usual, constantly putting fingers or fists in
the mouth, swollen or puffy areas on the gum, and fussiness or
crankiness. They may even run a low grade fever.
Try giving your child a
hard rubber toy, teething ring, or cold teething toy to chew on. Donít
freeze teething rings Ė this can hurt your babyís gums. You may also rub
their gums with your finger, or with a cold, clean washcloth. Teething
gels arenít needed, or even particularly helpful, because they are
quickly washed off with drooling.
Back to Top
Early Dental Care
Proper dental care begins even before that first baby tooth appears.
Remember, just because you canít see teeth, doesnít mean they arenít
there! Teeth actually begin to form in the second trimester of
pregnancy, and by the time heís born, your baby has 20 primary teeth,
some of which are fully developed in the jaw.
necessary at first Ė simply rubbing a damp washcloth across your childís
gums after a feeding can prevent a buildup of bacteria. Once your child
has their first few teeth, you can brush them with a soft toothbrush
made especially for children, or rub them with a piece of gauze at the
end of the day.
Dental decay can be a
problem for your baby if you donít practice good feeding habits at home.
Putting your child to bed with a bottle may be convenient, but it can be
detrimental to your childís oral health. The sugars from juice or milk
have time to pool around the teeth for hours and may eat away at the
enamel, creating a condition known as nursing carries. The results of
bottle mouth may include pocked, pitted, or discolored front teeth, and
in severe cases may cause cavities and the need to remove all the front
teeth until the permanent ones grow in. Breast feeding can cause similar
Once your child has all of
their primary teeth, brushing twice a day and routine flossing can help
maintain a health mouth. As young as 2 or 3, your child can begin to use
toothpaste when brushing. Just make sure that itís only a pea-sized
amount or less; most children this age are not good at spitting out the
Our office is a vital part
of your childís oral health. We want to see children mature to enjoy a
lifetime of beautiful, bright smiles, so make sure that we know about
all medical and dental problems when you come in, and follow all of our
oral health recommendations for your child. When you combine top-notch
professional dental care and scrupulous oral habits at home, those
exceptional smiles become reality.
Back to Top
Fluoride exists naturally in water sources and is derived from fluorine,
a common element in the Earthís crust. Fluoride helps prevent and even
reverse the early stages of tooth decay.
Tooth decay occurs when
bacteria breaks down the sugars in food. This process produces damaging
acids that dissolve those hard enamel surfaces of teeth. If this damage
is allowed to go unchecked, the bacteria can penetrate through the
enamel surface to the underlying tooth tissues, causing cavities (or
caries, as we call them). These cavities can weaken teeth and cause
pain, tooth loss, or even a widespread infection.
Fluoride combats this
tooth decay in two ways. First, it strengthens the existing tooth enamel
so that it can better resist the acids that attack it. Second, fluoride
allows teeth already damaged by acid to repair themselves. Fluoride
canít repair cavities, but it can reverse low levels of tooth decay and
prevent new cavities from forming.
Fluoride is crucial to the
health of your childís developing teeth. Despite all of the latest
advances in dental care, and improved parent and patient education,
tooth decay is still one of the most common diseases of childhood,
affecting more than half of children ages 5 to 9 years, and 78% of
17-year-olds. (U. S. Surgeon General, 2000).
Almost 66% of the U. S.
population receives fluoridated water through the taps in their homes.
With the expansion of the bottled water industry, children are becoming
less exposed to the fluoride in tap water. While bottled water producers
claim that bottled water is safer, purer, and better tasting, bottled
water lacks fluoride. The notable exception is fluoridated bottled
water, usually found in the baby-food aisle at grocery stores.
If your water comes from a
public system, call your local water authority or public health
department, or check online at the Environment Protection Agencyís
database of local water safety reports to determine the fluoride levels.
If you use well water or water from a private source, fluoride levels
should be checked by a laboratory or public health department.
Some advocacy groups claim
that the addition of fluoride to the water supply is dangerous and
damaging, and they point to toxicity warnings on toothpaste as proof
that any substance needing such careful dosing must be dangerous. In
response, the National Institutes of Health reviewed research. It agreed
with the activists that many studies in this area are of poor quality.
However, the NIH concluded that the unevenness of research does not
invalidate the clear benefits of fluoride, and even proposed that the
dramatic reductions in tooth decay in the past 30 years are due in part
to fluoridation of the water supply.
Excessive fluoride can be
dangerous, though your child would need to ingest a fairly large amount
of toothpaste, mouth rinse, or other fluoride-containing product to be
harmed. If you suspect that your child has eaten a substantial amount of
a fluoridated product, call the poison control center or 911. Symptoms
will include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, increased
salivation, or increased thirst. Be sure to keep fluoride-containing
products out of childrenís reach, and supervise your young childís
toothbrushing sessions to prevent swallowing toothpaste.
We can answer any
questions you may have about the fluoridation of your drinking water,
and the best approaches to making sure that your child is exposed to
adequate levels of fluoride.
Back to Top