Dr. Zelikow has been treating children from all over Chicago. Lincolnwood, Elmwood Park, Evanston, and other nearby areas for years. He knows how important it is to establish good oral hygiene habits in kids from an early age. Let Dr. Zelikow and his friendly team of dental professionals start your child down the path to a lifetime of great oral health.
Why are Baby Teeth Important?
Children develop proper chewing, eating, speaking, and oral hygiene habits with their baby teeth - which are also called primary teeth. Strong primary teeth allow for the jaw bones and muscles to develop healthily and help permanent teeth grow comfortably into place. If a child loses a primary tooth too soon, his or her permanent teeth may grow in crooked and lead to expensive oral treatments later in life. Decaying baby teeth can cause pain, abscesses, and infections which can spread to permanent teeth. Your child's general health may also be affected if diseased baby teeth aren't treated in a timely fashion. Remember, some primary molars don’t emerge until the age of 14; so these baby teeth need to last for years!
The oral hygiene habits and routines your child starts today may last an entire lifetime. It is never too soon to start teaching kids the importance of taking care of their teeth and oral health. Proper care not only keeps kids healthier; it can also prevent costly and potentially uncomfortable treatments later in life.
Should Baby Teeth be Treated the Same as Adult Teeth?
Though the routine of twice a day is the same for children and adults, the are some slight differences in oral care depending on age.
Care and keep of teeth should start before the teeth are even visible. The American Dental Association suggests starting a few days after birth. Gently wipe the baby’s gums with a moist, clean washcloth or gauze pad. Once teeth emerge, they are susceptible to tooth decay and should be brushed twice a day. Brush all of your baby’s visible teeth with a tiny bit of fluoride toothpaste (no more than the size of a grain of rice).
When children get older - at about the age of 3 - they can start using more fluoride toothpaste - about the size of a pea. At this point, they should be encouraged to brush their teeth on their own. However, continue to monitor and remind them to spit out the toothpaste and not swallow it. Flossing should start once two teeth in the child’s mouth touch.
What Dental Problems Could My Child Have?
Even though your child’s teeth are new, some dental issues can begin very early in life. They can affect how the adult teeth will emerge and, possibly, whether or not they will be prone to dental problems in the future.
The earlier a child visits a dentist, the better the chances are of preventing future oral complications. Strong, healthy teeth not only help your child chew food easily and speak clearly, but also build self-confidence by having a great smile.
This can occur at an early age by a child sleeping with the bottle or sucking on a pacifier dipped in something sweet. Bacteria that causes tooth decay can also be transferred to the child through saliva. This may occur when a parent cleans the baby’s pacifier or spoon with his or her own mouth.
Inflammation of the gum tissue can happen to children of any age. To help avoid this keep the child’s gums clean, even if no teeth have emerged.
Digit sucking or grinding of teeth should be monitored, especially as the child’s permanent teeth emerge. Permanent teeth may even be affected if the child’s habit is very intense.
Do children need preventative care?
Early childhood and tooth decay no longer have to go hand in hand. Dr. Zelikow focuses on all aspects of preventative oral care. He uses the latest in sealant technology to shield your child's teeth. Sealants are bonded to the chewing surfaces of back teeth to prevent them from developing plaque buildup, which can lead to tooth decay. This is just one of the many ways Dr. Zelikow can help set the foundation for your child’s good oral health for life.
How should I prepare my child for his or her first visit?
Many parents ask this question. Dr. Zelikow suggests that you prepare your child like you would before their first haircut or trip to the shoe store.
A visit to Dr. Zelikow’s office in Chicago will not be the frightening experience you may remember or have heard of from other parents. He has specially designed his space to be a fun and welcoming place for children. Your child's reaction to his or her first visit to the dentist may surprise you.
With his office being easy to get to from anywhere in Chicago, Lincolnwood, Elmwood Park, Evanston, and surrounding areas, you don’t have to take your kids very far to get great dental care with Dr. Zelikow.
Feel free to give his office a call at (773) 348-3309 if you have any questions or concerns about preparing your child for his or her first visit. You can even come by when the office is open to take a tour and see if Dr. Zelikow is the right fit for your child.
More About Infants
Infants should be seen by our office after the first six months of age, and at least by the child's first birthday. By this time, the baby's first teeth, or primary teeth, are beginning to erupt and it is a critical time to spot any problems before they become big concerns.
Conditions like gum irritation and thumb-sucking could create problems later on. Babies who suck their thumbs may be setting the stage for malformed teeth and bite relationships.
Another problem that can be spotted early is a condition called "baby bottle tooth decay," which is caused by sugary substances in breast milk and some juices, which combine with saliva to form pools inside the baby's mouth.
If left untreated, this can lead to premature decay of your baby's future primary teeth, which can later hamper the proper formation of permanent teeth.
One of the best ways to avoid baby bottle tooth decay is to not allow your baby to nurse on a bottle while going to sleep. Avoid dipping pacifiers in sweet substances such as honey, because this only encourages early decay in the baby's mouth. Encouraging your young child to drink from a cup as early as possible will also help stave off the problems associated with baby bottle tooth decay.
Teething, Pacifiers and Thumb-Sucking
Teething is a sign that your child's gums are sore. This is perfectly normal. You can help relieve this by allowing the baby to suck on a teething ring, or gently rubbing your baby's gums with the back of a small spoon, a piece of wet gauze, or even your finger.
For babies under the age of 4, teething rings and pacifiers can be safely used to facilitate the child's oral needs for relieving gum pain and for suckling. After the age of 4, pacifiers are generally discouraged because they may interfere with the development of your child's teeth.
Moreover, thumb-sucking should be strongly discouraged because it can lead to malformed teeth that become crooked and crowded.
Primary and Permanent Teeth
Every child grows 20 primary teeth, usually by the age of 3. These teeth are gradually replaced by the age of 12 or so with a full set of 28 permanent teeth, and later on, four molars called "wisdom teeth."
It is essential that a child's primary teeth are healthy, because their development sets the stage for permanent teeth. If primary teeth become diseased or do not grow in properly, chances are greater that their permanent replacements will suffer the same fate. For example, poorly formed primary teeth that don't erupt properly could crowd out spaces reserved for other teeth. Space maintainers can sometimes be used to correct this condition, if it is spotted early enough.
Babies' gums and teeth can be gently cleaned with special infant toothbrushes that fit over your finger. Water is suitable in lieu of toothpaste (because the baby may swallow the toothpaste). Parents are advised to avoid fluoride toothpastes on children under the age of 2.
Primary teeth can be cleansed with child-sized, soft-bristled toothbrushes. Remember to use small portions of toothpaste (a pea-sized portion is suitable), and teach your child to spit out, not swallow, the toothpaste when finished.
Fluoride is generally present in most public drinking water systems. If you are unsure about your community's water and its fluoride content, or learn that it has an unacceptable level of fluoride in it, there are fluoride supplements your dentist can prescribe. Your child may not be getting enough fluoride just by using fluoride toothpaste.
Toothaches can be common in young children. Sometimes, toothaches are caused by erupting teeth, but they also could indicate a serious problem.
You can safely relieve a small child's toothache without the aid of medication by rinsing the mouth with a solution of warm water and table salt. If the pain doesn't subside, acetaminophen may be used. If such medications don't help, contact your dentist immediately.
You can help your child prevent oral injuries by closely supervising him during play and not allowing the child to put foreign objects in the mouth.
For younger children involved in physical activities and sports, mouth guards are strongly encouraged, and can prevent a whole host of injuries to the teeth, gums, lips and other oral structures.
Mouth guards are generally small plastic appliances that safely fit around your child's teeth. Many mouth guards are soft and pliable when opened, and mold to the child's teeth when first inserted.
If the tooth has been knocked out, try to place the tooth back in its socket while waiting to see our office. Remember to hold the dislocated tooth by the crown—not the root. If you cannot relocate the tooth, place it in a container of cold milk, saline or the victim's own saliva. Place the tooth in the solution.
First, rinse the mouth of any blood or other debris and place a cold cloth or compress on the cheek near the injury. This will keep down swelling.
For a fractured tooth, it is best to rinse with warm water and again, apply a cold pack or compress. Ibuprofen may be used to help keep down swelling.
If the tooth fracture is minor, the tooth can be sanded or if necessary, restored by the dentist if the pulp is not severely damaged.
If a child's primary tooth has been loosened by an injury or an emerging permanent tooth, try getting the child to gently bite down on an apple or piece of caramel; in some cases, the tooth will easily separate from the gum.
Irritation caused by retainers or braces can sometimes be relieved by placing a tiny piece of cotton or gauze on the tip of the wire or other protruding object. If an injury occurs from a piece of the retainer or braces lodging into a soft tissue, contact our office immediately and avoid dislodging it yourself.
Sealants fill in the little ridges on the chewing part of your teeth to protect and seal the tooth from food and plaque. The application is easy to apply and typically last for several years.
In need of immediate care?
Dr. Zelikow provides emergency phone consultation services after working hours and on weekends. Call (773) 348-3309