Thursday, February 27, 2014

How to care for infant teeth

My son was born two months ago. This made me start thinking about the oral health of infants. There is so much to talk about, so I will just limit this blog to oral hygiene, fluoride, bottle decay and pacifiers.

Oral Hygiene

The best way to prepare an infant for a life-long oral hygiene regimen is to start early. You may want to start even before the infant has his first teeth which will come in at around 6 months of age. Simply use some gauze or a small towel and wipe the gums clean at least twice each day. This will get them accustomed to having their mouths cleaned daily.

The lower two front teeth will be the first ones to come in. Once they come in, use a small soft bristled toothbrush and brush the teeth gently. Even better yet, I prefer electric tooth brushes. Check out the blog on toothbrushes.


Another consideration is the use of fluoride. There is much debate on fluoride use. Many people are uninformed or do not understand the science regarding this topic. There are numerous anti-fluoride groups pushing for anti-fluoride legislation.

A typical anti-fluoride ad
The statement in this ad is indisputable
 (even though some continue to dispute it).

Fluoride use in low dosages is very beneficial to teeth. However, excessive amounts of fluoride discolor the teeth. In addition, excessive fluoride will make bones brittle and more susceptible to fractures.

There are special toothpastes made specifically for children that do not have fluoride. This is what you want to use in order to avoid swallowing of the paste and therefore a potential for excessive fluoride consumption.

In the United States, most municipal water supplies have fluoride in the optimal concentration range. It is impossible to get too much fluoride drinking from these water supplies. However, if your water source is from a well or from some other source that isn't maintained by a municipality, then the naturally occurring fluoride concentrations can vary widely. You can get these sources tested to determine what the actual concentration is.

Baby Bottle Caries

Once the teeth come in, we want to avoid letting the child fall asleep with a bottle in their mouths. The primary reason for this is a condition we call "baby bottle caries". What happens here is that milk which contains lactose (a sugar) will remain on the teeth for extended periods of time. This allows the decay process to occur over longer periods of time. The results are very predictable......decayed teeth.

If you feel that the child is soothed by falling asleep with a bottle in their mouths, and you feel like you must allow him to sleep with a bottle, then use water instead of milk.


Notice the front teeth do not come together.
I'm not a fan of pacifiers. The reasoning is that when an object is held in the mouth for an extended period of time, the bones of the mouth and the position of the teeth will be altered. This is true for any object including thumbs. What we find in these cases is flared front teeth that do not come together when the mouth is closed.

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit

1 comment:

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