From Birth To Age 3

Dental Health From Birthday To Age Three

Baby Bottle Nipples
Usually, the dentist would like to see your child for the first check-up at about age 24-26 months, when all his or her primary (deciduous) teeth have erupted. However, there are many measures that you as parents can take before this time to ensure good oral health. To begin, if mom is not going to breast feed, the type of nipple used on the bottle can have a definite effect on the growth of the jaws and development of muscles and swallowing patterns. The NUK nipple has an optimal shape that fits the anatomy of your baby's mouth. Upon first sight, many parents assume that its funny shape and size will cause the baby to reject it, and thus, they shy away from using it. Try the NUK nipple for a few days. Most babies will accept it readily. Using the NUK will lessen the chance of your baby developing a colicky stomach and may prevent certain orthodontic conditions that can become evident when your child is much older.

Perhaps the most predictable and consistent preventive measure in dentistry is the application of systemic fluoride. If your water district doesn't add fluoride to the water supply, your baby should be receiving drops of a fluoride/vitamin combination as soon as possible after birth. The first permanent molars are already calcifying by age three months. It is in this formative stage that the tooth will incorporate the greatest amount of fluoride. Studies have shown that fluoride will not cross the placental barrier, so pregnant women no longer receive fluoride preparations. Systemic fluoride is a safe and effective way to dramatically reduce dental decay, along with the cost of dental treatment. Please call your dentist's office to learn if your water is fluoridated; and if it is not, he or she will be able to prescribe the proper dosage.

On the average, a baby will start to get its first teeth at about six months. Tooth eruption (teething) can cause discomfort for your baby, as well as many sleepless nights for you. During teething periods, your baby may exhibit excess drooling, runny nose, low-grade temperature and/or overall crankiness. To help this situation, you may purchase some 2-by-2-inch gauze pads at your pharmacy and lightly rub your baby's gums with them several times a day. This will remove a thin layer of plaque that forms on the gums, thus lessening eruption pain. Most babies will find this massaging very soothing, and some will derive pleasure from sucking on the gauze or your finger.

Nursing Bottle Syndrome
Many parents give their babies a bottle in bed to pacify them and enable them to fall asleep. Most people fill the bottle with milk, fruit juice or water mixed with a sweetening agent such as Karo syrup. Unfortunately, as your baby falls asleep, the tongue and nipple on the bottle pool the liquid around certain teeth. The acidic and/or sugar content of these liquids can cause severe tooth decay. This is called nursing bottle or baby bottle syndrome. Don't allow your baby to become a dental cripple before his or her first check-up. If you must give the baby a bottle in bed, be sure to fill it only with plain water.