Your Child

Infant and Toddler Oral Care

Mothers who have dental decay or gum disease also known as periodontal disease can pass on bacteria to their infant or toddlers. This will increase your child's odds of having tooth decay. Mother should follow these easy steps to decrease the risk of spreading cavity causing bacteria.
- Visit your dentist on a regular basis before, during and after pregnancy
- Brush and floss twice a day to reduce the amount of plaque that contains bacteria
- Do not share eating utensils or straws with your infant or toddler
- Do not put your child's pacifier in your mouth
- Chew gum that is sugar-free and contains xylitol

Why is it important to restore (fill) baby teeth???

Baby teeth are very important for many reasons. They are necessary for chewing, eating, holding space for the permanent teeth and allowing for normal growth and development of the jaw and corresponding muscles. Baby Teeth can also affect speech development and provide an appealing smile.

Your child's permanent front teeth do not usually erupt until age 5-8, and the back teeth will not erupt until 10-12 years of age. These are just average ages and are based on a bell curve, your child may be in ahead or a little behind the curve. If decay is left untreated it can cause infection and pain. If an infection is not treated it can cause developmental problems for the bone and tooth.


When your child's baby teeth erupt the gums may be swollen and tender. A cold teething ring or cold wet wash cloth to chew on may ease teething soreness. Tylenol or Ibuprofen may be given to help with discomfort. Your older child may also have some teething discomfort when the permanent first and second molars erupt because they do not have baby teeth above them. For older children popscicles or orange slices that have been in the freezer may be soothing to chew on.

Baby Bottle Decay

Parents should help their children brush twice a day with an age appropriate soft toothbrush until around age 8. Young children do not have the dexterity to brush their teeth adequately. Parents should start brushing their child's teeth as soon as the first tooth appears, using a small wet wash cloth or an infants soft toothbrush. All toothbrushes should be soft bristled to prevent abrasions to the gum tissue.

Baby bottle decay, also referred to by dentists as Early Childhood Caries is a very serious and sometimes severe form of tooth decay among young children and infants. It is caused by frequent (nightly) and long exposure to liquids that contain sugar. Examples of these liquids are milk, formula, breast milk, fruit juices and soda pop. If these liquids are left on the teeth while sleeping bacteria that is normally in the mouth and the sugars will cause tooth decay. Sippy cups are a great tool for weaning your child off the bottle, however, if your child uses a sippy cup with sugared drinks throughout the day tooth decay is the likely result. Never put your child to bed for a nap or for the night with a bottle or sippy cup that contains sugar laced liquids, because this can cause rampant decay. The sugared drinks are held against the teeth causing the bacteria to produce acids that will attack tooth enamel and can result in severe tooth decay. If your child must have a bottle or sippy cup at night fill it with water only.

Thumb, Finger and Pacifier Habits

Many infants and young children suck their thumbs, fingers or pacifiers. It makes them feel secure and happy, many times it provides a sense of security during difficult times. Pacifiers are not a substitute for the thumb or finger sucking, however the use of a pacifier can be more controlled by the parent much easier than a thumb or finger habit. These habits can often cause an open bite in the front teeth and/or a cross-bite in the back teeth. When a parent tries to stop thumb/finger sucking habits too aggressively with a young child it may backfire and actually increase these habits. For some children the act of sucking on their fingers or thumb is comforting and is a stress reliever so too much pressure to stop causes the stress that makes them want to continue the habit. If you have concerns about thumb/finger sucking habits or the use of a pacifier consult with Dr. Tari. Our office has many ways to help your child stop these types of habits.

Your Teenager
When and why should my child see an orthodontist???

Upper teeth ideally should fit slightly over the lower teeth. The cusps (hills) of the molars should fit into the grooves (valleys) of the opposing molars. When teeth do not fit together properly it is called malocclusion. The causes of malocclusion can be early loss of primary teeth, extra teeth, impacted teeth, finger or thumb sucking habits and prolonged use of a pacifier. Most children do not need to see the orthodontist until all their permanent teeth are in around age 12-13. Although, Dr. Tari may refer sooner depending on the malocclusion.

Tongue and/or Lip Piercings

There are several risks involved with the tongue and/or lip piercing. All of our mouths contain millions of bacteria, some good and some bad, and infection is a common complication of oral piercing. Cracked or chipped teeth can occur due to the size and material the piercing is made of, especially when they are made of metal. Complications can be pain, swelling, infection, an increase of saliva flow and injuries to the gum tissue.

Third Molars (Wisdom Teeth)

Dr. Tari may recommend removal of your child's third molars at approximately age 15-17. Removing them when your child is still in their teens will usually make the treatment and recovery process go much easier than waiting until they are in their twenties. This is because the teeth are not fully formed and much smaller in size. The oral surgeon may recommend nitrous oxide/oxygen and/or IV sedation and in some cases out patient general anesthesia.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders that are associated with vomiting can cause erosion of the enamel on the teeth and can cause gingival recession because of the stomach acids. However, all types of eating disorders can have serious health risks. If you suspect that your child has an eating disorder please contact your physician as soon as possible.

Tobacco and Teens

Hopefully your child is not using tobacco in any form, because it can cause severe damage to their health. This is why it is so important for parents to talk with their children about the dangers of tobacco use. Many teens will use smokeless tobacco also known as chewing tobacco or just chew, because they believe it is safer than smoking. Studies have shown that chewing tobacco is much more addictive than smoking cigarettes so quitting is much harder, and that the nicotine in one can of chew is equal to that of 60 cigarettes or three packs. In a very short time the smokeless tobacco can cause periodontal disease and produce pre-cancerous lesions in the mouth. Signs of early oral cancer are sores that are not painful and do not heal, pain or numbness in the mouth or lips, difficulty swallowing, chewing or speaking, and white or red patches on the lips or gums. Difficulties moving the jaw or tongue and any change in the way the teeth fit together (bite) can also be early red flags.