DENTAL CARE TIPS FOR INFANTS AND TODDLERS
Thursday, February 18, 2016
My eight month old baby is the sweetest little thing. Her bright blue eyes sparkle each time I enter the room, and she is an absolute ham for the camera. Our infant adores her older brother, and is wants to play with whatever toy interests him. She eats all sorts of foods by this point (with meatballs being one of her favorites) and is getting better about sleeping through the night.
My baby also has a lucky tooth...
A lucky tooth you ask?
You see, my daughter started springing teeth a couple months ago. I was actually shocked when it happened, she had shown very few teething signs, and then one day she bit my finger - with her teeth!
After examining her teeth, however, I became a bit nervous. One of them looked REALLY big compared to the other.
So, being an exhausted, frazzled, worried mom - I turned to Dr. Google. Turns out my baby is an alien.....okay, she's not. But needless to say, Dr. Google sent me into a tizzy of fear - claiming outrageous things about my child's health.
I called my pediatrician, and he recommended that we take my daughter to a pediatric dentist to check out her "abnormal tooth."
The problem is, my husband's job doesn't offer dental insurance.
When my husband and I have gotten our teeth checked, it has frequently been on days when our local dentist offers services to the community who can't afford them. I'm not going to lie, it's incredibly humbling, embarrassing, and reminds us how important dental insurance really is....but before we had kids - dental health wasn't always super important to us.
But now that we DO have children, and their teeth are relying upon us, we are starting to explore our options. We have learned that dental insurance is an important tool in protecting our overall health and the health of our kids.
I quickly made an appointment at a local pediatric dentist's office to check out my baby's large tooth, and really took a gamble. I did it without having dental insurance, and sometimes even simple trips to the dentist office can cost money -- and if serious issues arise, the costs can really add up.
For example, my husband had extensive dental work a few years ago, and the work was so expensive that we had to put it on a special dentist credit card payment plan. We are still paying off that dental work today. *cue the sad trombone music*
Luckily, our visit to check up on my baby's abnormal tooth went smoothly. Turns out, my daughter is a member of the phenomenon of tooth fusion. Two of her teeth actually were joined together - almost like Siamese Twins. The pediatric dentist told me not to worry, and said that this happens to about 0.5% of caucasian children.
The pediatric dentist asked me several questions about my child's health, and told me my baby would be perfectly fine. Most likely, when this fused tooth fell out, two normal teeth most likely will be growing in it's place. This Tall Mom breathed a big sigh of relief.
She also told me that in many cultures, a fused tooth means extraordinary good luck!
I wanted to cry as I existed the dentist's office, because our check up was not going to have a super large bill after all. By not having dental insurance, I had taken a chance. This time I was lucky, but I'm now on the hunt for dental insurance for my family.
So I wanted to share with you some tips that the pediatric dentist told me, in regards to dental care tips for infants and toddlers.
1. DENTAL INSURANCE:
First, she highly suggested that parents have dental insurance. I know that there is a site called Guardian Dental, for example, where you can purchase a dental plan any time throughout the year - you don't even have to have a qualifying event to purchase dental insurance. It is available in certain areas of the country, and they strive to make dental insurance hassle-free. Through their website, you can find providers, and even pay your bills.
My husband and I have gone without regular cleanings or dental maintenance because we haven't had dental insurance...and because of that we still are paying off a hefty bill. I want to start my children off with strong dental health habits!
2. CLEAN CHILDREN'S MOUTHS BEFORE TEETH COME IN:
Get your baby used to the idea that they need to have their mouths and gums cleaned. My pediatrician actually suggested that we start doing this when we started to include foods other than breastmilk. You can use a baby finger toothbrush (which is more like a thimble than a toothbrush) or even just a wet cloth, and wipe along their gums.
3. DO NOT SEND YOUR CHILD TO BED WITH A BOTTLE:
Do not send your baby or toddler to bed with a bottle of milk or juice -- because then it can just pool in their mouths overnight. Also, the dentist recommended water - and lots of it! Start offering water as an after dinner drink! Most baby food easily comes off of their gums, so if you offer your infant some water after each meal of solids, it will help keep their mouth cleaner.
Our pediatrician also suggested that our children not drink more than 4 ounces of juice per day.
4. SCHEDULE A DENTAL EXAM:
A lot of dentists will suggest that you bring your little babies in for their first birthday, but my doctor said that as long as children visit the dentist by age three, then you are in the clear. Regular cleanings (meaning ideally 2x a year) and visits will help catch any problems that exist before they can cause damage to our babies' smiles.
5. ORAL CARE NEEDS TO BE A PART OF THE BEDTIME ROUTINE:
Babies and toddlers LOVE routine - and we all know that it makes a world of difference when it comes to sleeptime. So, just like how you have a bath, pajamas, read books, sing songs, etc before bed - start adding oral care. Every night!
6. EAT WELL:
Try to encourage your child to eat foods that support healthy dental care. This includes foods that are high in calcium, as well as fruits and veggies. Getting your child exposed to healthy foods early will set them up better for healthy success in the long run.
So there you have it, friends - the tips I have learned about dental care for toddlers and infants. Hopefully some of these tips will be useful for you and your family.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.