Dental care for kids

08/29/2010 12:00 PM

11/18/2010 12:11 PM

Q. I have an 8-month-old daughter. Her first two baby teeth are discolored. Why?

The most common reason for discolored baby teeth is inadequate brushing. Other reasons include trauma to the teeth or gums, iron staining from certain vitamins and weak tooth enamel.

Your first step is to make sure you are practicing good oral hygiene.

-- Brush teeth twice a day with water.

-- If your child drinks a bottle or nurses before bed, be sure to brush afterward.

-- Never let your child go to bed with a bottle.

-- Avoid fruit juices and foods with high sugar content.

You should also schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist.

Q. I have read conflicting information about how to care for my son’s teeth. When should he first see a dentist? Should we use toothpaste with fluoride or without? And when does he need to start flossing?

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, children should see a dentist by their first birthday. However, if any problems or risk factors are identified at a younger age, your child may be referred earlier.

As a general rule, fluoride toothpaste should be started once a child can spit it back out. Ingesting too much fluoride can lead to staining of permanent teeth. This is typically between the ages of two and three.

Flossing should become part of your child’s routine as soon as he has teeth that are touching each other.

For more information about your child’s oral hygiene, visit www.aapd.org.

Dr. Patt is president of the Charlotte Pediatric Society. E-mail questions to living@charlotteobserver.com ; put “pediatrician” in subject line.

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