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Caring for Your Baby’s Teeth—Right from the Start!

July 17th, 2024

A new baby! What a joyful, exciting time! Joy, excitement, and lots of questions about the best ways to keep your child healthy and happy. So, we have some suggestions to help start your baby on the path to a lifetime of healthy, happy smiles.

  • Before Those First Baby Teeth Appear

After each bottle or breast feeding, it’s a good idea to wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, damp washcloth or gauze pad wrapped around one of your fingers.

This gentle cleaning helps wipe away food and bacteria that can irritate the gums as the teeth start to erupt and helps prepare your child for brushing once those little teeth have arrived.

  • Cleaning Your Baby’s Teeth

Most babies start getting their first teeth around the age of six months. And those first teeth mean it’s time for a first toothbrush!

Choose a brush specifically for babies. These brushes are designed to fit tiny mouths to prevent gagging. They have soft bristles to protect tooth enamel and gums. They have handles that are easy for you to maneuver. There are even silicone finger brushes available which fit over your finger and use a textured surface to brush away bacteria and food particles.

Ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes about the right time to start using toothpaste. When your baby is old enough for toothpaste, it’s important to choose the right one, which means a toothpaste formulated for infants. It’s also important to use the right amount of toothpaste. A smear of toothpaste no bigger than a grain of rice grain is enough for early brushing.

Brushing twice a day, morning and night, is the normal recommendation unless your pediatric dentist has other advice. We’re also a great source of information on how to make brushing time easier and more enjoyable for both you and your baby!

  • Bottles and Baby Teeth

Cavities begin forming because oral bacteria create acids which erode enamel, the protective outer coating of the tooth. Cavity-causing bacteria love to feed on sugar. Baby formula and even breast milk contain carbohydrates in the form of sugars—which is a good thing!

Carbohydrates are essential for babies’ growth and development. Lactose, the sugar found in breast milk, is a carb which is easy for your baby to digest, and which supports healthy bacteria in the digestive system. Formulas with lactose and other types of sugars also provide your baby with these necessary, easily digestible carbohydrates.

But going to sleep with a bottle or while breastfeeding means those healthy sugars aren’t all digested. Instead, liquid pools in the mouth, bathing those beautiful new teeth in sugars over night. This can lead to a condition called “baby bottle tooth decay,” which is especially damaging to the upper front teeth. (And the chance of cavities is even greater if your child’s bottle contains juice or other sugared drinks.)

That’s why dentists recommend making sure a baby’s finished with breastfeeding or bottle before going to sleep to help prevent cavities and decay.

Baby teeth are important. They help in speech development. They allow your child to eat and chew properly when it’s time for solid foods. They hold places for permanent teeth so the adult teeth erupt where they’re supposed to. All very good reasons to finish feeding baby before bedtime!

  • Making New Friends

When your baby has those first teeth, and certainly by the age of 12 months, it’s time to add some new friends to your baby’s life with a first visit to our Chicago pediatric dental office.

Pediatric dentists have specialized training in caring for children’s teeth. They can assess tooth and bite development. They are experts in treating decay and injuries in primary teeth. They can advise parents on any potential problems with pacifier or thumb sucking habits. And they know how to make sure children are comfortable in a child-friendly environment.

That first checkup will allow Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes to make sure your baby’s dental development is on schedule. There will be an exam to check those tiny teeth for enamel erosion or cavities. And you dentist will have great advice for proactive dental care, for diet, and for tips on how to brush most effectively.

These early visits are also a chance for your child to become accustomed to visiting the dentist regularly. Your pediatric dentist and staff are experts at creating a dental home, with welcoming, child-oriented dental care which provides comforting continuity from infancy through the teenage years. Look after your baby’s teeth right from the start, and you can look forward to seeing your baby grow up with a healthy and happy smile!

What do you love about our practice?

July 10th, 2024

At Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd, we have been creating beautiful smiles for years. Whether you or your family have visited Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team for a single visit or have been loyal patients throughout the years, we would love to hear your thoughts about your experience! In fact, we encourage you to leave a few words for us below or on our Facebook page!

We look forward to reading your feedback!

Blog Suggestions? Let’s Hear Them!

July 3rd, 2024

Your opinions matter to Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team! Our blog is meant to be an educational channel, but we always want to know what things you’re interested in learning more about. After all, our blog is here for you to enjoy!

We’d like to encourage you to send us any ideas about what you want to see more of. No idea is too small! Whether it involves a specific treatment or advice on what kind of toothpaste you should use, we’d love to hear from you about it.

To share your thoughts with us, simply leave your comments below or on our Facebook page! You can also fill out a comment card the next time you visit our Chicago office!

Bottled Water: Friend or Foe?

June 26th, 2024

Some people choose bottled water over tap because they think it’s cleaner. Some do it out of convenience: It’s easy to grab a bottle of water to take with you for the day as you run out the door or hop in your car.

Whatever the reason, bottled water has been coming in ahead of tap water for the last couple of years. What many people may not know is that choosing bottled water over tap can actually be detrimental to your dental health.

Most brands of bottled water fail to include a vital ingredient: fluoride. Fluoride plays an important role in helping maintain good oral health because it helps strengthen our teeth. Stronger teeth mean a lower chance of tooth decay, and who doesn’t want that?

When we choose bottled water over tap water, we deprive our pearly whites of something they might very well need.

The good news is that the American Dental Association has endorsed both community water fluoridation and products that contain fluoride as a safe way to prevent tooth decay. If bottled water happens to be the preference for you or your family, you don’t necessarily have to force everyone to start drinking tap water.

Just check the label and make sure the brand you purchase contains fluoride.

It’s essential to remember that switching up the water you drink isn’t going to put you on the fast track to perfect teeth, though. Flossing and brushing three times a day is vital!

If you have any questions about fluoride or your dental health, don’t hesitate to ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes at our Chicago office!