Infant dental care is cornerstone of lifetime dental health. At Sparkle Pediatric Dentistry, we recommend that your baby has her first dental checkup as soon as the first tooth erupts, which can be as early as 4 months, or up to 12 months of age. At the first checkup, we will show your child around our office and introduce him or her to our dental team.  As your child gets used to the new surroundings, we can perform a quick exam with your child resting on your lap. At this important first infant dental care visit, our Mechanicsville doctors will discuss the best way to take care of your baby’s teeth and which developmental milestones you can expect next.


Teething is a process that can start weeks and even months before a tooth finally appears. In general, teething begins between 4-6 months of age; however, some babies won’t get their first tooth until 12 months. The symptoms of teething can ebb and flow depending on how much the teeth are moving through the gums on any given day. Some days will be better than others. All babies experience teething differently, but some of the common symptoms of teething include:

  • Fussiness, irritability and crying
  • Tender, swollen gums
  • Desire to chew on hard objects such as your hand or finger
  • Increased in amount of drool
  • Interrupted sleep patterns
  • Tugging on ears

Sparkle Pediatric Dentistry offers tips to help soothe your baby if teething is uncomfortable:

  • Use clean, solid teething rings
  • Cold water from a sippy cup
  • Cool, damp cloth to massage gums
  • Dry the excess drool to avoid skin irritation

Our Henrico dental team would also like to stress the importance of making sure whatever your baby puts in his mouth is clean to maintain good overall health and wellness. If you have any questions about teething or need advice on the best ways to care for your baby during teething, please don’t hesitate to call (804) 746-7382.

Non-nutritive Sucking – Thumbsucking and Pacifier Use

Babies have an innate reflex to suck. It helps to soothe them and promotes falling asleep. From a pediatric dentistry point of view, thumbsucking or pacifier use becomes an issue after the age of three. Prolonged sucking through the night, whether it is the thumb, finger or pacifier can affect the way the teeth develop and align.

Thumbsucking or pacifier use can cause a narrowing in the palate or roof of the mouth, creating an overbite or an open bite. A narrowed palate may progress into an orthodontic problem later in childhood.

Most children will grow out of the need to suck and likely naturally stop sucking their thumb between the ages of two and four. Where pacifiers can be discarded, it tends to be slightly more difficult to break the habit of thumbsucking. Short Pump pediatric dentist, Dr. Holly Lewis, encourages our parents to begin talking about breaking the habit around the age of four, but not to apply too much pressure on the child. At your child’s routine infant dental care visits, we will discuss what can happen to the teeth if these habits continue and encourage your child to break the habit on his own.

Yes, Even Babies Can Get Cavities

Our Henrico dental team, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and American Dental Association (ADA), would like to inform parents of a common condition that affects babies known as “baby bottle tooth decay” or Severe Early Childhood Cavities. This condition most often occurs when a baby’s teeth are exposed to milk, formula or juice for extended periods of time. This prolonged exposure will create an acidic environment in your baby’s mouth, which is also an ideal situation for cavities.

Good news!!! Baby bottle tooth decay is preventable and Sparkle Pediatric Dentistry can help you avoid this common problem. We strongly encourage parents to avoid placing baby to bed with any liquid other than water. We also recognize the natural need for babies to suck as a method of self-soothing and comfort. Pacifiers, rather than a bottle of milk or juice, during naps and nighttime sleep can provide your baby with a measure of comfort that does not contribute to dental decay. We also encourage families to offer baby water between meals to keep the saliva in the mouth at a neutral pH.

Another way to protect newborn babies from dental decay is by using a soft, damp cloth to gently cleanse the gums between feedings. This will help wipe away residual milk, formula or juice as well as remaining food particles. Our Short Pump dental team suggests making this part of your infant’s daily oral hygiene routine for infant dental care. It will get your baby used to regular cleanings as well as protect any budding primary teeth. You can switch to a soft bristled toothbrush as the first teeth appear.