Baby teeth are an incredibly important part of dental health in children. Their presence helps teach children how to chew, how to properly speak, and serve as space holders until their permanent, adult teeth come in. Despite the fact that baby teeth are lost at some point in a child’s life, keeping baby teeth healthy is the key to creating a strong foundation for future teeth and oral health.
In order to nurture healthy baby teeth, you’ll need to set a strong foundation of oral health for your child at an early age.
Think of baby teeth both as a place to practice and a place to build that foundation. You need to take care of them and teach your child how to best take care of their own teeth so they have all the tools necessary when adult teeth come in.
Below are some tips for keeping baby teeth healthy until it’s time for them to come out.
First Dental Visit
A good metric for when to take your newborn to the dentist for the first time is either when the first tooth comes in or by their first birthday. It’s always a good idea to have a well visit for your baby, even if the first tooth hasn’t come in or come in fully yet. This is also a great way to prevent thumb sucking before it starts.
Start Cleaning Early
Start cleaning your child’s teeth comes as early as a few days after being home from the hospital. Simply wipe the gums clean with a moist pad or cloth to encourage clear and healthy gums. You’ll start to see teeth as early as 6 months though it can take much longer. This is also a good way to regularly keep an eye out for a child ready to teeth.
Teaching Good Brushing Habits
Once a child has a solid set of teeth, start brushing their present teeth with a small amount of fluoride (no larger than a grain of rice). Flouride -free toothpaste is available if you prefer. Do this twice a day until your child is about 3 years old, at which point you want to start getting them in the habit of brushing themselves. You can use more flouride (pea-sized) and closely monitor their brushing, ensuring they don’t swallow any toothpaste. Consult your pediatrician to decide what is best for your child.
Do Baby Teeth Affect Permanent Teeth?
The short answer is yes. While the structural damage of a baby tooth will go with it when it comes out, any bacteria caused by cavities or abscesses will remain in the gum where the permanent tooth is waiting to make a home. Eventually the bacteria will also begin eroding the adult tooth.
Should You Pull Baby Teeth?
A loose tooth is irritating for children and it may be tempting to pull it out but doing that can cause unnecessary damage and pain because it is still connected to a root and is not ready to come out. It’s best to just to wait for it to fall out on its own and teach your child to best handle the irritation a loose tooth can cause.
Baby teeth are important. They affect the future of your child’s dental health and oral hygiene practices. Speak with a dental professional to learn more.
If you are the parent of a child and want to build the foundation for a healthy smile, call our Walled Lake dental office today! Our skilled and “kid-focused” approach to children’s dentistry is something you and your children can feel good about. Parents have plenty to worry about, when it comes to your child’s oral health, we take this seriously.
Dr. Hechtman and his staff are always on the lookout for cavities and other oral concerns to ensure the proper development towards good overall hygiene. Call today for an appointment!