image00010As a parent you want your child to have a happy, healthy smile for life. Thinking about dental care at an early age and practicing good dental hygiene from the start can help ensure your child’s teeth stay healthy. We encourage you to visit a dentist by your child’s first birthday.

You may not be aware of this, but children are susceptible to a variety of dental issues. Here at Maryland Family Dentistry, we are committed to educating parents and giving them the tools they need to provide for their child’s oral health. We want to share with you some common childhood dental issues that come up for kids so that you can be informed and work with your dentist to prevent them.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay: Also known as Nursing Bottle Syndrome, Early Childhood Caries, or Nursing Caries, Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is a result of a baby’s teeth being exposed to prolonged contact with sugary drinks. These drinks can include milk, formula, fruit juice, or sugar water. The sugar is broken down by the bacteria in the mouth producing an acid byproduct that attacks the teeth and strips away the enamel, resulting in tooth decay. Never dip your baby’s pacifier in liquid, other than water, before giving it to them. Avoid adding unnecessary sugar to your baby’s food. Do not put your baby down for bed or a nap with a bottle and always wipe your baby’s gums with a soft, moist cloth after eating.

Thumb Sucking: Infants are always sucking on something, aren’t they? Generally, this habit isn’t anything to be concerned about unless it continues when they age. When a baby’s permanent teeth start to come in, sucking on an object (such as a thumb or pacifier) can push the teeth out of alignment and create an overbite or cause the teeth to protrude. It may also cause speech problems or teach your child to eat incorrectly. Once the first tooth starts to come in, parents should offer positive reinforcement to encourage a child to stop sucking. We suggest giving praise and rewards for the span of time your child refrains from the habit while gradually increasing that time span. Remember that sucking is generally a coping and comfort mechanism. Negative reinforcement will encourage your child to suck even more. (Note: Tongue thrusting and lip sucking are other issues you should be aware of that can affect the alignment of your child’s teeth.)

Early Tooth Loss: When a child loses a baby tooth before the permanent tooth is ready to come in, it’s usually because of tooth decay, lack of jaw space, or injury. If the space of the missing tooth is left untreated, the remaining teeth may crowd the space that is intended for a permanent tooth. This can be treated by your dentist placing a space maintainer. This will help preserve that space until the permanent tooth is ready. If your child loses a tooth too soon, please see the dentist right away to prevent future problems.

We want to work with you to provide advanced care and prevention for your little one. If you have any questions about early childhood care, need more information, or would like to schedule an appointment, please give us a call at (410) 772-5453 & (410) 766-4650

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