Infant Dental Care
Your child’s healthy, beautiful smile is the number one priority at Little Fish Dental. Dr. Trout and her team offer infant dental care services to ensure your child’s smile and development happen properly. Having served our patients from Rocklin since 2001, our passion is to create the right foundations for optimal oral health and beautiful smiles, including baby smiles!
Caring for Your Infant’s Smile
While the range for your baby's first tooth can vary- typically between three to nine months - caring for their smile begins from birth. There are some steps you can take to ensure your child’s smile is healthy prior to their first visit to the dentist, near their first birthday.
Keeping your baby’s gums healthy should begin right after birth. As they are feeding and gaining essential nutrients to grow, it’s important to keep their mouth clean. Here are a few conditions to be conscious of during their first year:
Early Childhood Cavities – Also known as early childhood dental caries, this is caused by frequent exposure to sugary liquids like milk, formula, fruit juices, or not properly cleaning your child’s teeth after eating. This can seriously damage their teeth and overall oral health.
Teething – An important milestone in your child’s health is the eruption of their first teeth. This can happen between three and nine months old and is often an uncomfortable time for them. Your child may become fussy and restless, drool more, or may lose their appetite.
To soothe their sore teeth and discomfort, gently rub the gums with a clean finger, an infant gum massager, or provide a cold teething ring.
Keep Your Baby's First Teeth Clean - When your child’s teeth first arrive, take a clean, damp washcloth and wipe along their upper and lower gums. This should be done twice a day, once after their first feeding, then again after their last. As more teeth emerge, you may start brushing them twice a day with a soft-bristled brush and water.
Avoid tooth decay by never letting your child fall asleep with a bottle or to nurse as they snooze. If they need to suck on something to fall asleep, fill the bottle with water or use a pacifier sparingly. Use a gentle toothpaste once their teeth erupt - Dr. Trout loves Revitin!. Dr. Trout can treat cavities with tooth-colored fillings and protect your child’s smile with sealants.
Tongue Tie or Lip Tie – If your baby is not nursing or eating well, isn’t gaining weight properly, or mama is having trouble nursing, it is possible that your baby has a tongue-tie, lip-tie or both. The frenum – a small piece of skin – attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth or the upper lip to the upper gums. These can be attached too high, causing feeding problems for baby, whether bottle or breastfeed and problems for moms who are breastfeeding. Dr. Trout can release these ties using a laser treatment, providing freedom for baby to eat and relief for mom. For more information on this, please read the page about Tongue Tie and Lip Tie Releases.
Pacifiers are not recommended as they interfere in development of normal oral posture function and swallowing. Pacifier use may lead to low tongue posture, incorrect swallowing patterns, incorrect tooth alignment, and incorrect jaw position and development. If you choose to allow your baby to use a pacifier, it is recommended that you help them wean off it by 6 months of age. A child who continues to use the pacifier longer may develop this as more of a habit than a developmental need. Parents should aim to get rid of their baby's pacifier no later than ten months of age to avoid the following:
- Increased risk of ear infections
- Improper growth of the mouth and jaws
- Dental cross bite (misalignment) or open bite
- Development of sucking habit
- Development of improper swallowing and chewing habits (aka Myofunctional Disorder)
To help break the pacifier habit, you may try the following:
- Limit pacifier use gradually over time
- Reduce pacifier satisfaction by piercing the pacifier’s nipple
- Go “cold turkey” and remove all pacifiers from child's access
Babies have natural rooting and sucking reflexes, which can cause them to put their thumbs or fingers into their mouths — sometimes even before birth. Because thumb sucking makes babies feel secure, some might eventually develop a habit of thumb sucking when they're in need of soothing or going to sleep. Thumb sucking may lead to low tongue posture, incorrect swallowing patterns, incorrect tooth alignment and incorrect jaw development.
To help curb the habit, parents may have success with some of the following methods. With babies, parents and caregivers should just consistently take the thumb out of the mouth, training the child to not suck on it. For younger children, set a rule that if they suck their thumb they must be in bed by themselves and away from the rest of the family, with a first goal of limiting thumb sucking to bedtime. Small children ofter choose to stay with the family, in the middle of the action. Later using a favorite blanket or stuffed animal as an inventive may also help encourage the child to stop sucking their thumb if they only get to pick one thing. For older children, there may be emotional issues that need to be addressed through individual or family counseling. Parental commitment and consistency to working with their child on stopping thumb sucking is the key to a positive outcome.