Jul 28 2015


Teaching your child good oral hygiene habits early can lead to a lifelong healthy smile, but did you know that just because babies don’t have any visible teeth, doesn’t mean they can’t get cavities? A baby’s 20 primary teeth are already present in the jaws at birth. And those baby teeth that begin coming through the gums around 6 months help set the stage for future smiles by keeping space in the jaw for adult teeth.

Baby Teeth Matter

BracesGirlCharacterWhen 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 ADA recommends that parents take children to a dentist no later than their first birthday and then at intervals recommended by their dentist.

Habits to Smile About:

Get a head start

Pop Quiz: Cavities are on the decline in every age group except in? Answer: The youngest children. That’s right, we’re still losing that battle and kids are 7 times more prone to cavities than they are to asthma (the second most common disease in kids after cavities).  So a plan to get them off to a good head start would make a lot of sense. A child’s teeth start to form when the child is in the mother’s belly, and they are at risk for decay the minute the baby teeth break through- typically around 6 months of age. The most aggressive adn advanced pattern of cavities occurs in children that take a bottle to bed or demand to be breastfed throughout the night. It used to be called Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. Severe Early Childhood Caries (S-ECC) may progress to quickly that some toddlers’ front or back teeth simply cant be saved and have to be removed by the time the family gets the child to the dentist.

You might be thinking, “well they’re just baby teeth”. But oh, are they? We now know that the health of the baby teeth, sets the stage for healthy permanent teeth. Not to mention, losing baby teeth prematurely (or severe untreated cavities) can lead to complicated orthodontic problems when the adult teeth erupt.

Check List for Keeping ‘Em Clean

  • Wiping your new born gums shortly after birth is a great idea. use a moist burp cloth after each feeding. This habit will disrupt the bacteria trying to establish themselves on the gums.
  • When the first tooth breaks through, switch to a soft bristled, small infant toothbrush to  clean their teeth. You can (and should) use kids fluoridated toothpaste after discussing it with your pediatric dentist. The amount of toothpaste and how you use it can make it very safe and helpful in keeping their enamel resistant to cavities. Though most kids get their first tooth around 6 months, some may go as late as 12 or 14 months. Consult your pediatric dentist if your “mommy sense” tingles and something doesn’t seem right.
  • As the child grows, the amount of fluoridated toothpaste (and or method of application) will need to change. Start practicing spitting with your child as soon as they seem to get the concept and ask your pediatric dentist about how much toothpaste you should be using.
  • Until proven that your child can brush their own teeth well (usually around age 6 and really should be evaluated by your dentist), you should keep them in the habit of allowing you to “finish” the brushing. We encourage independence when it comes to oral health habit development, but the youngest kids simply can’t brush all the hard to get to areas.
  • As soon as your child has two teeth that touch, which could be as early as 6 months, be sure to floss their teeth every night. Using floss picks can make it safe, easy and fast. Talk to your pediatric dentist to see which option(s) they recommend.

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