Oral Health for Infants: What Pediatricians and Pediatric NeoNatal Nursing Staff Need to Know

John E. Nathan*

Oral Health for Infants: What Pediatricians and Pediatric NeoNatal Nursing Staff Need to Know.

This manuscript focuses on relevant and fundamental aspects of oral healthcare of the newborn and infant for the pediatrician and nursing personnel. In almost all cases, these medical providers have first contact with babies and infants during the first year of life and rarely does medical curricula include time or opportunity to provide exposure to fundamentals of oral health care. As
such it becomes important to provide pediatricians and neonatal nursing personnel with what will enable optimal oral health and early recognition of oro-facial normalities vs. abnormalities, relevant risk assessment and management of dental caries, enamel and tooth malformations, and common oral pathology.

What might surprise most healthcare providers is the fact that the most frequently encountered chronic disease of children is dental caries.  This reflected the general belief that child behavior under three years of age rendered limited usefulness to early examinations and secondly that there were inadequate numbers of pediatric dental specialists available to see children earlier.

While eruption patterns for most infants suggest the first tooth emerges at approximately 4-6 months of age, a very small percentage of infants have manifested the presence of what appears to be an early emerging primary lower central incisor.

While dental evaluations do not readily occur before the recommended first year, referral for pediatric dental consult is available when indicated. Early recognition of dental abnormalities, early onset of dental caries, and implementation of preventive strategies by medical personnel can set the stage for optimal oral health.

Pediatr Neonatal Nurs Open J. 2017; 5(1): 11-18. doi: 10.17140/PNNOJ-5-128