Mark W. Mercer, DDS
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Babies’ gums and teeth can be gently cleaned with special infant tooth brushes or even using q-tips. Avoid the use of toothpaste with fluoride for children under 2 years of age as they may swallow it.

Primary teeth can be cleaned with a child size toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste. Teach your child to spit out and not swallow the toothpaste.


Toothaches can be common in young children. They are sometimes caused by erupting teeth but they could also be a sign of more serious problems.

You can safely relieve a small child’s toothache by rinsing the mouth with warm salt water. If the pain does not subside acetaminophen may be used, if such medications don’t help contact your dentist. Toothaches in adults can be caused by deep decay (cavities), gum recession, cracked teeth, previous trauma or food wedged in between the teeth.


Infants should be seen in our office by the child’s first birthday if they have any erupted teeth. It is a good time to spot any problems before they become a big concern.

A problem that can be spotted early is a condition called “baby bottle tooth decay” which is caused by sugary substances in milk and some juices, which combine with salvia to form pools inside the baby’s mouth. If left untreated tooth decay can lead to premature loss of primary teeth, which can hamper proper eruption position of the permanent teeth.

One of the ways to avoid baby bottle tooth decay is not to allow your baby to nurse on a bottle while going to sleep. Avoid dipping pacifiers in sweet substances which will encourage early decay in the baby’s mouth. Try to teach your baby to drink from a cup as soon as possible which will help reduce the incidence of decay.

Teething, Pacifiers & Thumb Sucking

Teething is a sign your child’s gums are sore. You can help to relieve this by allowing the baby to suck on a teething ring, or by gently rubbing baby’s gums with wet gauze or your finger. Applying ora-gel may also help.

For children under the age of 2 pacifiers can be safely used. After age 2 pacifiers are discouraged as they may interfere with arch shape and tooth position.

Thumb sucking should be strongly discouraged as it can lead to poor teeth position and elongated arch development.

Primary & Permanent Teeth

Children grow 20 primary teeth usually by the age of 3. These teeth are gradually replaced by the age of 12 with a full set of 28 teeth and later on four molars called wisdom teeth erupt behind the other molars.

It is important that the primary teeth are well maintained prior to their natural loss. The primary teeth act as space maintainers for the proper eruption of the permanent teeth and early loss can lead to crowding and orthodontic problems as the permanent teeth erupt.

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Mark W. Mercer, DDS
W492 Portage Street
St. Ignace, MI 49781
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