Congratulations on the arrival of your baby! Are you prepared for the arrival of your baby’s first tooth? Follow these guidelines and your son or daughter will be on the way to a lifetime of healthy smiles!
Caring for Your Child's Gums
Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, the gums can benefit from your careful attention. After breast- or bottle-feeding, wrap one finger with a clean, damp washcloth or piece of gauze and gently rub it across your baby’s gum tissue. This practice helps clean your little one’s mouth and begins the process for building good oral home care habits.
Baby’s First Tooth and the Toothbrush
When that first tooth makes an entrance, it’s time to upgrade to a toothbrush. There are several types of toothbrushes on the market. It is important the bristles are soft and the toothbrush is the right size for your child. For questions on specifics types, ask your dental provider their recommendation.
Brushing with Toothpaste
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry promotes brushing with fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth erupts to signficantly reduce the risk of cavities. The amount of toothpaste should be about the size of a grain of rice. This is highly recommended for children who have a diet that is higher in sugars and brushing is infrequent. For children with a low sugar diet and who brush frequently, fluoride-free toothpaste may be sufficient for the first few years. Regardless of diet and oral home care routine, Dr. Mike and Dr. Julia recommend transitioning to toothpast with fluoirde between 2 and 3 years of age.
Avoid Sugary Drinks
It is best to minimze sugar exposure to your child's teeth and to avoid sweetened liquids such as flavored drinks or soda. Even the sugars present in natural, fruit juice may casue cavities. Dr. Mike and Dr. Julia have a saying: it's better to eat the fruit than drink the fruit.
Although formula, milk and breast milk provide some of the best nutrients for you child, they also contain sugrars. Frequent brushing wil help minimize sugar sticking to your child's teeth. It is not recommended to have your child feed throughout the night. Continous feeding (bottle or nursing) throughout the night without brushing will significantly increase your child's risk of cavities.
First Visit to the Dentist
It is recommended that you bring your baby in for a dental exam six months after the first tooth erupts or around their first birthday. During this visit, we will review oral home care and nutritional recommendations, perfrom a toothbrush cleaning and examine your child's mouth. During the exam, the dentist will evaluate jaw growth, tongue and lip tie, tooth eruption, gingival and tooth health, airway and your child's risk level for cavities. Although these vists are often short, they can be invaluable in setting a good foundation for healthy teeth.
Setting a Good Example
Children are like sponges observing so much of what we do. It is important we set a good example of how to take care of our teeth. If you make healthy nutritional choices and brush regularly then there is a greater chance your child will do the same. The primary goal is to instill healthy oral habits at an early age to set your child up for a lifetime of healthy, cavity-free teeth!
The Importance of Baby Teeth
Just because your child’s primary teeth, often known as “baby teeth,” eventually fall out, doesn’t mean they’re not important. Primary teeth play an important role in your child’s overall health, development, and well-being.
Much like your own permanent teeth, your child’s primary teeth require professional and at-home dental care. Decay can happen at any age, so it’s time to visit the dentist within six months of your child’s first tooth appearing, and certainly by age one. In addition to checking for tooth decay and other pediatric dental problems, your dentist will show you the best ways to start your child on a lifetime of good oral health habits.
What is the purpose of primary teeth?
Most children have a full set of primary teeth by the time they’re three years old. Below are some of the reasons why primary teeth are important:
- Hold space and provide a path for permanent teeth to erupt
- Provide function for chewing and eating
- Assist in speech development
- Build self-esteem by providing a beautiful smile
What happens if baby teeth aren’t taken care of?
Primary teeth can get cavities just like adult teeth. Because their enamel is very thin, cavities can develop quickly Cavities can lead to pain, abscesses and spread throghout the body and may cause other serious health infections. This could result in hosptial visits and/or missed school.
If a tooth becomes infected and needs to be extracted, you dentist may recommend inserting a space maintainer. It is often important to preseve space so that there is room for the permanent teeth to erupt.