Babies Brush & Floss, Really?
Article published in “Growing Up in Santa Cruz”
By Dr. Brent Porter
As an office, we feel it is an honor to be a part of that first Well Baby Dental Visit! Early dental attention will give your baby the greatest chance at remaining cavity free! As soon as those pristine primary front teeth erupt, we would love an opportunity to encourage and educate a new parent into a new daily routine.
Encouragement! When introducing the toothbrush and floss, it can prove very challenging for a new parent. The question you may ask yourself is, "How important is this?" I remember with the first of our five children, how difficult this really was! It resembled a very messy ‘tug of war’ that felt like torture to both of us. But with patience and persistence, it eventually became an acceptable routine.
Here is the beautiful thing… we are given the opportunity to start a New Routine in this new little mouth. What we now recommend for a daily oral care routine in a young child’s mouth is often in dire contrast to the routine habits that we, as adults, grew up with. There are toothbrushes that are so very gentle in these new beautiful mouths!
Education! Effective early preventative oral care starts with the referral from the infant’s primary healthcare professional or pediatrician. Then, an early collaboration between a new family with their ‘baby’ and the pediatric dentist can occur! The end goal is to encourage the opportunity for a child to have a lifetime free from preventable dental disease. The encouraging news is that early dental caries is a disease that generally speaking, is preventable!
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) acknowledges eight (8) recommendations for an infant’s oral health. First, the AAPD encourages an oral health risk assessment for an infant six to12 months of age by a qualified pediatric dental specialist who individually assesses the patient’s risk for developing oral diseases of the soft and hard tissues of his/her mouth.
The next recommendation is the establishment of a 'Dental Home' and initial visit with a pediatric dental specialist. This should include a thorough medical history (infant) and dental history (infant and parent), and a complete oral exam. In addition, an age-appropriate tooth brushing demonstration, and cleaning is recommended within six months of the eruption of the child’s first tooth and no later than his/her first birthday. This gives your child a significant preventive advantage. A pediatric dentist can provide the necessary early diagnostic, preventive, and therapeutic options, as well as an ongoing risk assessment at recommended intervals. At this tender age, we enjoy supporting and encouraging new parents! Who would of thought that brushing and flossing is encouraged and even possible at this early age?
We acknowledge the wide range of experienced discomfort with teething. This is the periodic localized discomfort in the region of erupting primary teeth, which can be accompanied by acute irritability and excessive salivation. Symptomatic treatment with oral analgesics is often recommended. Care should be taken in treating with over-the-counter topical analgesics, due to toxicity potential.
Dr. Brent J. Porter and team along with the AAPD rank oral hygiene as first and foremost! Daily oral home care measures should be initiated no later than the eruption of the first primary tooth. As an office, we recommend daily oral hygiene assistance for infants through young children to age eight by their parent or guardian twice daily.
We realize that the optimal exposure and administration of fluoride is very unique to every child. No more than a smear layer of fluoridated toothpaste is recommended for children under age three. Systemically administered or oral fluoride may be appropriate after considering all other potential dietary sources of fluoride exposure. Careful monitoring of fluoride content is paramount in the use of fluoride containing products. We cover this option during your young child’s initial visit.
The AAPD recognizes diet as a variable in early childhood caries. As an office, we recommend the daily consumption of fruit juice in children one through six years of age not to exceed four to six ounces of fruit juice per day. Encourage water consumption via a no-spill cup between feedings or meals.
Non-nutritive oral habits such as pacifier and digit sucking can dramatically redirect the growth and development of the mouth and facial skeleton resulting in a malocclusion. An individual assessment usually provides a plan to discontinue use at an appropriate age. Every child’s oral habit needs to be addressed individually and we are honored to provide that support.
Dr. Brent J. Porter is the father of five children and has been in pediatric dental specialist here in Santa Cruz for over 20 years. He believes it takes a team to make cavity free a reality and that parents, are an instrumental part of that team. Through education and encouragement we can provide the best chance for success!!
For more information please contact the office of Brent J. Porter D.D.S., Santa Cruz Children’s Dentist (831) 459-9802