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CaringSmiles 4u | Early Infant Care in Indianapolis

                Juanita R. Taylor, DDS

                                        4615 Lafayette Rd.  Suite B
                                     Indianapolis, IN 46254


Early Infant Care


teething.pngNormally the first tooth erupts between ages 6 to 12 months. Gums are sore, tender and sometimes irritable until the age of 3. Rubbing sore gums gently with a clean finger, the back of a cold spoon or a cold, wet cloth helps soothe the gums. Teething rings work well, but avoid teething biscuits—they contain sugar that is not good for baby teeth.

While your baby is teething, it is important to monitor the teeth for signs of baby bottle decay. Examine the teeth, especially on the inside or the tongue side, every two weeks for dull spots (whiter than the tooth surface) or lines. A bottle containing anything other than water and left in an infant’s mouth while sleeping can cause decay. This happens because sugar in the liquid mixes with bacteria in dental plaque, forming acids that attack the tooth enamel. Each time a child drinks liquids containing sugar, acids attack the teeth for about 20 minutes. When awake, saliva carries away the liquid. During sleep, the saliva flow significantly decreases and liquids pool around the child’s teeth for long periods, covering the teeth in acids.


Infants New Teeth

infants_new_teeth.pngThe primary, or “baby,” teeth play a crucial role in dental development. Without them, a child cannot chew food properly and has difficulty speaking clearly. Primary teeth are vital to development of the jaws and for guiding the permanent (secondary) teeth into place when they replace the primary teeth around age 6.

Since primary teeth guide the permanent teeth into place, infants with missing primary teeth or infants who prematurely lose primary teeth may require a space maintainer, a device used to hold the natural space open. Without a maintainer, the teeth can tilt toward the empty space and cause permanent teeth to come in crooked. Missing teeth should always be mentioned to your family dentist. The way your child cares for his/her primary teeth plays a critical role in how he/she treats the permanent teeth. Children and adults are equally susceptible to plaque and gum problems—hence, the need for regular care and dental checkups.


The First Visit

first_visit.pngThe American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child visit the dentist by his or her 1st birthday or within 6 months of the first erupting tooth.  Beginning dental care at an early age is important for a number of reasons.  Many parents of infants and toddlers are not confident they are caring for their child’s teeth properly.  We can further help parents with this dilemma by giving them infant oral health information provided by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry along with answering any other questions that they may have about their child’s dental needs.  Another goal of ours is that early visits provide opportunities to address other preventive issues that are vital to healthy teeth and a pleasing smile.  Dental visits that are scheduled before problems develop can be kept short and help the child become relaxed in the dental environment more quickly. (AAPD)

Our goal for children under 3 is to make dental visits quick and easy.  We will provide a thorough examination and talk with you about any issues of concern while your child plays nearby.  With each subsequent visit your child will gain confidence, and trust will most likely increase.  After age 3, we will begin preventive care visits which include examination, cleaning, fluoride treatment and appropriate radiographs. (AAPD)

You can make the first visit to the dentist enjoyable and positive.  Your child should be informed of the visit and told that Dr. Taylor and her staff will explain everything and answer any questions.  If you approach the visit in a casual manner chances are that your child will approach it in a similar manner.  It is best to refrain from using words around your child that might cause unnecessary fear, such as needle, shot, pull, drill or hurt.  We make a practice of using words that convey the same message, but are pleasant and non-frightening to the child.

Children Age 4 & Older – Dr. Taylor has found that children age 4 and older have the best dental experiences when they go back to the treatment area on their own.  Going back without mom or dad encourages good behavior when they feel like they’re being a “big boy” or “big girl.”  Please encourage your school aged children to be ready to go back and see Dr. Taylor while you wait for them in our lobby area.  Please understand that if your child should become upset or anxious we will not hesitate to come and get you.  Under those circumstances, we ask that whenever parents accompany children into the treatment area all other siblings not receiving dental treatment remain in the playroom with another adult.

Children Under the Age of 4 – if your child is under the age of 4, we invite you to accompany your child to the treatment area during their dental visits.  Dr. Taylor has found that she and her staff frequently needs assistance from parents with most children in this age group.  Whenever possible we encourage parents to sit in the “parents’ chair” while your child is in the dental chair, so that your child can build a relationship with our staff.  We ask that whenever parents accompany children into the treatment area all other siblings not receiving dental treatment remain in the playroom with another adult.

Children’s dentistry is a very important health service, and successful children’s dentistry must begin with proper education and preparation.  We would like to guide you in helping your child have a pleasant experience and a lifetime of dental education.

Give your child the opportunity to hear of pleasant dental experiences, only.  It is best to tell the child about a dental visit the night before the appointment.  Of course, always refer to the Doctor as “Our Friend.”

Please convey the feeling that dental visits are a part of growing up.  Don’t offer rewards or indicate in any way there is something to fear.  Should you try to bolster a child’s courage prior to the dental visit, it may have the opposite effect and frighten them.  We offer a safe haven for your child; a professional dental office with an informal atmosphere for the care of all children.


What to Tell Your Child

If your child should ask searching questions, explain that the Doctor is going to look at their teeth, clean them and take some pictures of their teeth, and will always explain everything that is going to be done before it happens.  In discussing dentistry, please do not use words: “needle,” “shot,” “drill,” “pull,” “hurt,” or any other verb that might have an unpleasant meaning.

Please do not be upset if your child cries.  Children may be afraid of anything new and strange.  Kindness is the greatest contribution for overcoming fear, and it must be our united objective to eliminate dental fears.  We believe you will be very pleased with your child’s visit.


Early Childhood Caries (Cavities)/ Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

early_childhood.pngOne serious form of decay among young children is baby bottle tooth decay (early childhood caries). This condition is caused by frequent and long exposures of an infant’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar. Among these liquids are milk (including breast milk), formula, fruit juice and other sweetened drinks.

Putting a baby to bed for a nap or at night with a bottle other than water can cause serious and rapid tooth decay. Sweet liquid pools around the child’s teeth giving plaque bacteria an opportunity to produce acids that attack tooth enamel. If you must give a child a bottle as a comforter at bedtime, it should contain only water. If your child won’t fall asleep without the bottle and the usual beverage is a sugary beverage, gradually dilute the bottle’s content with water over a period of two to three weeks.

After each feeding wipe the baby’s gums with a damp washcloth or gauze pad to remove plaque. The easiest way to do this is to sit down, place the child’s head in your lap or lay the child on a dressing table. Whatever positions you use, be sure you can see into the child’s mouth easily. 


Care of Your Child’s Teeth

care_of_childs_teeth.pngBegin daily brushing as soon as the child’s first tooth erupts.  Infants should use a non- fluoridated toothpaste or infant gel.  A pea size amount of fluoride toothpaste can be used after the child is old enough to consistently spit it out and not swallow it. Brushing is recommended twice a daywith supervision until about age seven to nine to make sure they are doing a thorough job. However, each child is different. The dentist and hygienist will help you determine whether the child has the skill level to brush properly.

Proper brushing removes plaque from the inner, outer and chewing surfaces. When teaching children to brush, place the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle; start along gum line with a soft bristle brush in a gentle circular motion.  Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower. Repeat the same method on the inside surfaces and chewing surfaces of all the teeth. Finish by brushing the tongue to help freshen breath and remove bacteria.

Flossing removes plaque between the teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing should begin when any two teeth touch. You should floss the child’s teeth until he or she can do it alone. Use about 18 inches of floss, winding most of it around the middle fingers of both hands. Hold the floss lightly between the thumb and forefingers. Use a gentle, back-and-forth motion to guide the floss between the teeth.Curve the floss into a C-shape and slide it into the space between the gum and tooth until you feel resistance. Gently scrape the floss against the side of the tooth. Repeat this procedure on each tooth.   You may also use the floss picks, as these may be easier to use with children.