When it comes to baby teeth, there is no debate that many people don't have a clear understanding of them and the traditional belief in many cultures is to worry about them as a new set, the permanent teeth will soon replace them. At Hello Kids Dentistry, we are faced with many families that just don't care about treating baby teeth and in some cases, they may be right not to. In this article, we attempt to provide an argument for maintaining proper health of primary (baby) teeth for the proper growth and development of a child.
A child’s primary teeth, sometimes called “baby teeth,” are as important as the permanent adult teeth.
Healthy baby teeth:
Foster good nutrition through proper chewingAid in speech developmentBuild self-esteem by providing a beautiful smileEnable a child to pay attention and learn in school without the distraction of dental painSave space in the jaw that is needed for proper development of adult (permanent) teeth.
When Do Baby Teeth Come In?
A baby’s 20 primary teeth are already present in the jaws at birth and typically begin to appear when a baby is between 6 months and 1 year.
When teeth first come in, some babies may have sore or tender gums. Gently rubbing your child’s gums with a clean finger, a small, cool spoon or a wet gauze pad can be soothing. You can also give the baby a clean teething ring to chew on. If your child is still cranky and in pain, consult your dentist or physician. Most children have a full set of 20 primary teeth by the time they are 3.
Why Baby Teeth Matter
Not only do primary teeth help children chew and speak, they also hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are 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. This can make teeth crooked or crowded. That’s why starting infants off with good oral care can help protect their teeth for decades to come. The one other concept we never talk about but can be the most important is esthetics during development. When a child starts first grade, there is a chance that they may inevitably feel shame if they are missing their upper front teeth and their classmates aren't, especially when other kids can notice it and point it out.
When Should I Start Taking My Child to the Dentist?
At Hello Kids Dentistry, we follow the guidelines of the AAPD. The AAPD recommends that a pediatric dentist examine a child within six months after the first tooth comes in and no later than the first birthday. A dental visit at an early age is a “well-baby checkup” for the teeth. Besides checking for tooth decay and other problems, the dentist can show you how to clean the child’s teeth properly and how to evaluate any adverse habits such as thumb-sucking.
How to Care for Your Child’s Teeth
It’s important to care for your baby’s teeth from the start. Here’s a protocol we provide to patients at Hello Kids Dentistry:
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 6 months of age, although some children don’t have their first tooth until 12 or 14 months.For children younger than 3 years, caregivers should begin brushing children’s teeth as soon as they begin to come into the mouth by using 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. Supervise children’s brushing to ensure that they use of the appropriate amount of toothpaste.For children 3 to 6 years of age, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Supervise children’s brushing and remind them not to swallow the toothpaste.Until you’re comfortable that your child can brush on his or her own, continue to brush your child’s teeth twice a day with a child-size toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. When your child has two teeth that touch, you should begin flossing their teeth daily.