Ever wonder why baby teeth need dental care when they’re going to fall out anyway? Here’s why!
Your child’s baby teeth are important! Not only do they help him or her chew, speak, and have a healthy smile, baby teeth save spots for adult teeth that grow in later. Losing baby teeth too early due to lack of dental care can cause adult teeth to grow in crookedly or drift into the wrong spaces, crowding or blocking other teeth.
Here are some more reasons why children need dental care!
Your child’s baby teeth are present in his or her gums at birth. In most cases, children begin teething around six months of age and have a full set of baby teeth by age three.
Tooth decay, or cavities, can happen at any time after teeth appear—even baby teeth! If not taken care of, tooth decay and poor dental hygiene can lead to infection or make teeth fall out earlier than they should. This can lead to crooked adult teeth and might even affect your child’s ability to eat a nutritious diet.
A common form of tooth decay in infants is early childhood caries, also known as “baby bottle tooth decay” because it can be caused by too much exposure to sugar in bottled liquids. To help your child avoid caries, limit the amount of fruit juice s/he drinks, never put your baby to bed with a bottle of milk or juice, and talk to your child’s pediatrician about when to stop breast- and bottle-feeding.
Regular dental checkups are the best way to catch tooth decay and prevent future dental problems before they begin or become a problem. Dentists can also help identify habits, like thumb-sucking, that may lead to dental problems later.
Getting your child used to going to the dentist for regular checkups builds healthy lifelong dental care habits. Schedule your child’s first dental checkup when his or her first tooth starts to come in (usually between ages six months and one year) and no later than his or her first birthday.
Don’t forget to set a good example and get your own dental checkup once every six months or as recommended by your dentist.
Many people fear going to the dentist. Helping your child get used to the dentist at an early age can help him or her avoid feeling afraid or uncomfortable during dental checkups or skipping them altogether, which can help him or her prevent many problems when s/he is older. (Learn more about what not going to the dentist can cost you here.)
Your child’s dental checkups are your best opportunity to learn how to take care of your child’s teeth. Ask your child’s dentist any questions you might have. If it helps, write them down before you go to the appointment.
If you have a newborn, use an infant toothbrush or a clean washcloth and water to gently wash your baby’s gums after feedings. When your child’s teeth start to grow in, clean them twice a day—in the morning and at night. Use an age-appropriate toothbrush and a small amount of children’s fluoride toothpaste—about the size of a grain of rice. From ages two to five, use an amount of toothpaste about the size of a pea. Remind your child to spit out toothpaste and not swallow it. Start flossing your child’s teeth as soon as two of them touch.
Always follow your dentist’s instructions for taking care of your child’s teeth.
Do your kids squirm at the thought of the dentist? Get some tips for keeping them calm at the dentist’s office here.
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“Ask Your Dentist About Dental Care for Your Baby,” American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. © 2011.
“Baby Teeth,” MouthHealthy.com. Accessed September 21, 2016.
“Do I Have to Go to the Dentist? Oral Health Starts Early,” Center for Advancing Health. September 2014.
“When Should My Child First See a Dentist?” KnowYourTeeth.com. January 2007.