Taking care of your child’s teeth is an essential role of a parent. Unfortunately, we have found that many parents have the misconception that their child doesn’t need to see a dentist until they are much older. They consider that their child will lose their baby teeth, so they think it is not necessary to be concerned about baby teeth. However, this is far from the case. Early dental visits can make a difference in your child’s dental health throughout their life. Something we believe every parent wants for their children!
Why Taking Care of Your Child’s Baby Teeth is so Important
According to the American Dental Association: “Baby teeth are essential to your child’s health and development. They help them chew, speak, and smile. Also, baby teeth hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth growing under the gums.
When a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in. The result can be crowded or crooked teeth.
Starting infants off with good oral care can help protect their teeth for decades to come.”
Setting a Good Example
Your children learn the most from you by seeing and mimicking what you do. You set a good example for them by brushing your teeth and helping them learn how to brush theirs.
The American Dental Association recommends oral hygiene for the various growth stages:
- Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth. As soon as teeth appear, decay can occur. A baby’s front four teeth usually push through the gums at about six months, although some children don’t have their first tooth until 12 or 14 months.
- Children younger than three years should have their teeth brushed as soon as they begin to have teeth come in. Use fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. As they learn to brush their teeth independently, supervise their brushing to ensure they use the appropriate amount of toothpaste and brush correctly.
- Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste for children 3 to 6 years of age. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Continue to supervise children’s brushing and remind them not to swallow the toothpaste.
- When your child has two teeth that touch, you should begin flossing between their teeth daily.
When Should I First Take My Child to See A Dentist?
You should bring your child to our pediatric dentist by their first birthday. It is essential to have a dental professional examine their oral health to ensure that their teeth are coming in correctly.
Early visits to the dentist will help your child get used to seeing a dentist and can help prevent them from being fearful of dentists later in their life when they have a dental problem.
Also, when you take them in early, you can learn from Dr. Bruce Howell can show you how to take care of your baby’s teeth so they maintain a bright and beautiful smile throughout their life.
Common Dental Problems We May Prevent with Early Treatment
Here are some common problems that we can help prevent when you bring your child in for regular checkups:
- Tooth decay – according to the CDC, 20% of children from ages 5 to 11 have at least one decayed or decaying tooth.
- Bad breath – You might think it’s just from something they ate. Still, chronic bad breath can indicate a more serious underlying condition.
- Sensitive teeth – Having sensitive teeth doesn’t always mean something is wrong. Still, a tooth may have cracked, or the nerves exposed somehow.
- Thumb sucking – This is generally not a problem unless your child continues to suck their thumb after they turn five years old. If the habit persists, it can cause speech impediments and misalignment of their teeth.
- Gum disease (gingivitis) – Normally caused because of bad dental health or hygiene. It is preventable with regular home care and dental visits.
Our office provides the ideal setting for your child to get the care they need in a positive and fun way. We educate every patient and parent on the importance of oral hygiene and teach them how to properly brush and floss by using handheld mirrors and our fabulous helper, “George the Monkey.” Our friendly dental team is specially trained to work with children. We will assist you with any questions you might have and provide the best service for you and your child.
Healthy teeth contribute to a happy life! Please get in touch with us to schedule an appointment for your loved one.
Dr. Bruce Howell