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Winter Letter 2012

Do you know your baby should see a dentist by age 1?

Do you know the right amount of fluoride in water is the most cost-effective way to reduce dental caries?

Do you know that dental caries is the most common chronic disease among children, and it’s mostly preventable?

When my son was born, I knew a little more about infant oral care than the average parent because my sister is a dentist. Still, trying to do all the right things wasn’t easy. I was constantly wiping my baby’s gums after feedings, began brushing when his first tooth appeared and then started flossing as soon as two teeth came in side by side. My in-laws thought I was crazy and let me know, but my sister encouraged me to stay the course.

Today, dentists want new parents to know that childhood cavities can largely be prevented and oral health should begin right from the start. So, yes, you can gently wipe your newborn’s gums with a soft cloth or gauze after each feeding. When a tooth erupts, start brushing gently. And when teeth come in side by side, invest in baby dental floss.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends children visit a dentist by 12 months or within 6 months of eruption of the first tooth. Also, the AAPD advises parents that their own oral health can affect their baby because cavity-causing enzymes spread easily through saliva. Therefore, it’s wise for couples planning a pregnancy to visit a dentist and address any oral health problems.

I work with new mothers in the hospital, so I realize all the information and recommendations from various sources can be overwhelming. But I also know we want to do the right thing for our children. Recently I was talking with a mother and asked if she had taken her 18-month-old for her first dental visit. She was surprised to learn about the first tooth, first dental visit recommendation. She said it was something she didn’t know about, but would book an appointment for her toddler right away.

Good oral health is a gift you can give yourself and your new baby – and it’s a gift that will last a lifetime.

Best Wishes,

Linda Ciampa, RN