Infant Oral Examination

It is vital that you are well informed from the start when it comes to your baby’s oral care. Although the first teeth that come in are temporary, they may still develop infection and decay. Quite often, a mother transfers the bacteria that cause cavities (caries) to her child. Understanding the proper way to approach oral care for every stage of an infant’s development will help you to give the best oral care you can to your baby.
 
The U.S. CDC reports that the most common infectious disease in children is dental caries. Over forty percent of children have cavities before they are five years old.
 
Early childhood cavities can be particularly difficult, and start very soon after a tooth erupts. The cavities can develop on smooth surfaces and progress rapidly, having a long lasting negative effect upon your child’s teeth.
 
Infant Oral Exam

What Causes Cavities (Dental Caries)

Dental caries is actually a transmissible disease that results from bacteria that adhere to teeth. The bacteria that causes this is called MS (mutans streptococci). This bacteria metabolizes sugars and an acid is produced which is a byproduct of metabolism, that damages teeth.
 
MS is the type of bacteria that is responsible for cavities. An infant may become colonized with MS at any time after they are born. Increased MS colonization happens after the first teeth erupt, since the teeth provide a surface upon which the bacteria can adhere. Furrows within the tongue can also harbor these bacteria before the first teeth erupt.
 
Transmission of this cavity causing bacteria from a mother to her child has been well documented. Mothers with a high level of MS bacteria in their saliva have a much higher chance of transmitting them to their child. Additional factors that affect mother to child transmission include the mother’s snack frequency, oral hygiene, and the presence of periodontal disease.
 

Infant Oral Care And Mom’s Oral Care Are Synonymous

Good infant oral care begins with his or her mother’s dental health. As mentioned above, disease causing MS bacteria are easily transferred from a mother to her baby, which can cause dental decay in the child.
 
Bad dietary habits can cause the mother to have a higher level of MS bacteria, which increases the risk of transmission to her child. Therefore, a good diet and oral hygiene practices by the mother will reduce the risk of transmission to her child.
 
Dental caries in early childhood is quite prevalent in the U.S. However, it is also avoidable if the proper steps are taken at each stage of a child’s development.
 

Infant Oral Health Recommendations

All infants should have an infant oral examination from one of our pediatric dentists by the time they are six months old. This first examination will evaluate the infant’s risk of developing any type of oral disease, including their risk for developing dental caries. Education will be provided on infant oral health care and fluoride exposure will also be evaluated.
 
Barnes, McDonnell, and Parsons pediatric Dentistry will be established as the child’s dental home. The first visit will include the complete medical history of the child along with the dental history of the parent.A complete oral exam, a tooth brushing demo that’s age appropriate, and prophylaxis will be discussed. A fluoride treatment may be administered if needed.
 
There will also be an assessment of the risk of caries developing in the child and a plan to prevent them will be developed along with a schedule for future office visits. Guidance on what to expect with regard to oral and dental development, teething, sucking habits, oral hygiene instruction, injury prevention and the impact of diet on dentition are also parts of the first visit.