February is National Children's Dental Health Month, a month-long national health observance that brings together thousands of dedicated dental professionals, healthcare providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others. In honor of this month, we interviewed Dr. Allen Greenberg, a Dentist and Pediatric Dentist in New Rochelle, NY, who has been practicing for 45 years.
When should parents start paying attention to their baby's dental hygiene?
Infant oral health care starts before the baby's first tooth erupts. Your child's gums should be wiped with a soft pad to clean away bacteria and debris. After the eruption of the first tooth, a soft, small headed toothbrush may be used at least twice a day, in the morning after breakfast and at night before bed.
Any tips for preventing tooth decay?
Your infant should not be put to sleep holding a bottle in bed. Severe decay can result from soaking the teeth in a bath of milk. The sugar in the milk provides nutrition for the bacteria in the mouth which cause cavities. Mothers should also be careful not let their infant nurse on demand throughout the night. The result will be similar to permitting an infant to keep their bottle with them through out the night.
When should you start taking your child to the dentist?
The child's first visit to a dentist should be when the first tooth erupts, or at least by the time the child turns 1. Toothpaste without fluoride should be used until the child is three years of age and has the ability to rinse and spit without swallowing. However, fluoride supplements are appropriate in areas without fluoridated water.
Do you have any dietary tips for children as they begin to eat solids?
Since sugar feeds the bacteria that causes cavities, restriction of sugar intake is key. It is best to avoid sodas, juice, and sweets. I also recommend following meals with water to help rinse the teeth, when it is not convenient to brush.
Are there any useful products out there that are particularly popular with mothers of babies?
Some moms appreciate easy-to-use teeth wipes like these, which are convenient and effective for infants: Oral Hygiene Gum Wipes
Babies enjoy gnawing on this type of baby "toothbrush," which enables them to relieve teething pain while also cleaning the teeth and gums: Baby Buddy