Why are Baby Teeth Important?
Children develop proper chewing, eating, speaking, and oral hygiene habits with their baby teeth – which are also called primary teeth. Strong primary teeth allow for the jaw bones and muscles to develop healthily and help permanent teeth grow comfortably into place. If a child loses a primary tooth too soon, his or her permanent teeth may grow in crooked and lead to expensive oral treatments later in life. Decaying baby teeth can cause pain, abscesses, and infections which can spread to permanent teeth. Your child’s general health may also be affected if diseased baby teeth aren’t treated in a timely fashion. Remember, some primary molars don’t emerge until the age of 14; so these baby teeth need to last for years!
The oral hygiene habits and routines your child starts today may last an entire lifetime. It is never too soon to start teaching kids the importance of taking care of their teeth and oral health. Proper care not only keeps kids healthier; it can also prevent costly and potentially uncomfortable treatments later in life.
Should Baby Teeth be Treated the Same as Adult Teeth?
Though the routine of twice a day is the same for children and adults, the are some slight differences in oral care depending on age.
Care and keep of teeth should start before the teeth are even visible. The American Dental Association suggests starting a few days after birth. Gently wipe the baby’s gums with a moist, clean washcloth or gauze pad. Once teeth emerge, they are susceptible to tooth decay and should be brushed twice a day. Brush all of your baby’s visible teeth with a tiny bit of fluoride toothpaste (no more than the size of a grain of rice).
When children get older – at about the age of 3 – they can start using more fluoride toothpaste – about the size of a pea. At this point, they should be encouraged to brush their teeth on their own. However, continue to monitor and remind them to spit out the toothpaste and not swallow it. Flossing should start once two teeth in the child’s mouth touch.
What Dental Problems Could My Child Have?
Even though your child’s teeth are new, some dental issues can begin very early in life. They can affect how the adult teeth will emerge and, possibly, whether or not they will be prone to dental problems in the future.
The earlier a child visits a dentist, the better the chances are of preventing future oral complications. Strong, healthy teeth not only help your child chew food easily and speak clearly, but also build self-confidence by having a great smile.
This can occur at an early age by a child sleeping with the bottle or sucking on a pacifier dipped in something sweet. Bacteria that causes tooth decay can also be transferred to the child through saliva. This may occur when a parent cleans the baby’s pacifier or spoon with his or her own mouth.
Inflammation of the gum tissue can happen to children of any age. To help avoid this keep the child’s gums clean, even if no teeth have emerged.
Digit sucking or grinding of teeth should be monitored, especially as the child’s permanent teeth emerge. Permanent teeth may even be affected if the child’s habit is very intense.
Do children need preventative care?
Early childhood and tooth decay no longer have to go hand in hand. At Dr. Sheri Watkins, we focus on all aspects of preventive oral care. We use the latest in sealant technology to shield your child’s teeth. Sealants are bonded to the chewing surfaces of back teeth to prevent them from developing plaque buildup, which can lead to tooth decay. This is just one of the many ways Dr. Sheri Watkins can help set the foundation for your child’s good oral health for life.
How should I prepare my child for his or her first visit?