You are Owen’s kryptonite.
He’s an easygoing, laid back, chill little guy until you come along. You were a little late to join the party, and now that you’re here, I wish you would leave. When you are working your way through his poor little gums he gets clingy and whiny and the river of snot coming out of his nose is downright disgusting. So far you’ve come in pairs; as in, two coming in at the same time. First the bottom two, then the top two, and as of last night the next two on the top row are here. This is useful for me because we’ve actually had teething-free time between teething times, but really, cut the kid some slack. He’s doing the best he can to deal with you.
We drink Ibuprofen like water around here.* I wish we didn’t have to.
My child teethes on anything and everything he can get in his mouth. And believe me, that’s a lot of things.
Couldn’t you just come in all at once instead of dragging this whole process out?
K. Thanks. Bye.
With deepest respect,
*Now before my super serious readers get all up in my grill about that Ibuprofen statement, please note that it was a figure of speech. We never dose more than the prescribed amount, and I try to use medication as sparingly as possible. Though any parent who has ever looked into the eyes of their child in pain will tell you that when they need it, they need it. But please don’t write me emails about what a bad mother I am for drugging my child with meds. Please.
Anyway, grasshopper, with teeth come great responsibility.
Since Owen’s a wee bit too young to be put in charge of his oral hygiene, it’s MY responsibility to keep his pearly whites, well, white. (Sidenote: I once had the same philosophy about Schnitzel’s teeth, but after a few months of trying to brush his teeth every night we gave up on that. The vet still comments on his beautiful white teeth, so I think his steady diet of sticks from the backyard act as a pretty good toothbrush. But I’m guessing I’m going to need to be a bit more proactive with Owen). Lucky for me I have a pediatric dentist for a father-in-law. Or rather, my father-in-law happens to be a pediatric dentist. I asked him a few FAQ’s as a new mom and I thought his answers might be helpful to those of you who don’t have a pediatric dentist on call. Feel free to ask him any other questions that come up and I’ll find out the answers for you!
It’s Ask a Pediatric Dentist Day at This Place is Now a Home 🙂
1. When should babies first see a dentist? Those teeth are pretty tiny. I’m not really sure what they could possibly see.
We recommend a first visit at one year for an exam and parent education. Many problems can be avoided by early diagnosis and establishing good oral hygiene and diet habits right from the start. Waiting until two or three years, after all the primary teeth have erupted, is too late. Most pediatric dental offices charge very little for an under 2 year visit. Another good reason to have a one year visit is to avoid any parental expectations of cooperation at the dentist; young children are often pressured to be a good dental patient. It’s also good to have a dental “home” established since so many kids have injuries while learning to walk.
2. Tooth brushing at this age seems kind of crazy, with just a few little lumps sticking up. I think they “brush” his teeth at daycare, but I’m not sure what that entails. Should I be wiping his gums/teeth before bed too?
The main thing is to clean them. While a damp washcloth or tissue is probably adequate to clean a couple of teeth, if you use a damp toothbrush, you can avoid it becoming a big deal later if you try to introduce toothbrushing. Same reasoning with floss. Even though there is nothing to floss, taking a piece and playing at flossing can make it a lot easier when there are more teeth present, and it’s actually important to floss. Even if there are spaces between most of the teeth, once the 1st and 2nd primary molars erupt, they usually will come into contact in short order, and you can’t clean in between them with a toothbrush. By the age of 5, I see a lot of kids with 8 cavities visible on their first x-rays even though you can’t see anything wrong looking in their mouths. The enamel on primary teeth is only half the thickness of permanent teeth; if you have the kind of bacteria that promotes decay and sufficient exposure to sugars, it’s a recipe for decay between the teeth.
You’ve been hearing me extol the virtues of flossing for years now. Seriously, if I could get every one of the parents in my practice to floss their kids teeth until they were old enough to do it themselves, I would fill half the number of cavities I do now. All those kids would grow up with the habit and then would floss their own teeth daily. That’s how you avoid the typical cavities still prevalent in teenagers that result in fillings that require periodic replacement, and eventually crowns, root canals, periodontal disease, etc. I really believe that although science has yet to give us a magic mouthwash or vaccine that eliminates decay (which is still the most common chronic disease of children), daily flossing from an early age would eventually save enough money to pay for our all our other health care in as little as 20 years.
3. This one is a personal question and probably not interesting to the rest of the blog world, but Owen’s pedi says he is anemic, so we have to give him iron supplements. I read on the letter the doc wrote that iron can turn teeth gray. Similarly, my brother had a pink tooth when he was little and my mom always said it was because he had to take amoxicillin for ear infections when he was little. I’d rather not have a child with gray or pink teeth… have you ever seen this happen? Is it permanent or will it just be a baby tooth issue?
Iron causes a surface stain that is easily removed with a little pumice and peroxide on a spinning rubber cup. Same with Amoxicillin or other antibiotics that can alter the oral bacteria so the stain producers take over. Tetracycline will permanently discolor developing teeth, but are not prescribed for children unless it’s a life threatening situation.
A pink tooth or gray tooth from an injury is the result of the nerve dying. I wouldn’t exaggerate if I said that half the 5 year old boys I see have gray teeth, yellow teeth pink teeth, black teeth, chipped teeth or prematurely lost teeth due to injuries. Benjamin had two lovely dark teeth for several years before they fell out.
So there you have it! Straight from the dentist’s mouth. Have questions for the doc? Ask away…