Your child won’t keep his or her first teeth forever, but that doesn’t mean those tiny pearly whites don’t need conscientious care. Maintaining your child’s dental health now will provide health benefits well into adulthood, as primary (baby) teeth serve some extremely important functions.
For one thing, primary teeth serve as guides for the eruption of permanent (adult) teeth, holding the space into which these new teeth will erupt. The crowns (tops) of the permanent teeth actually push against the roots of the baby teeth, causing them to resorb, or melt away. In this way, the adult teeth can take their proper place.
What’s more, your child’s primary teeth will be there for most of childhood, helping your child to bite, chew and speak. For the first six or so years, he or she will be relying on primary teeth exclusively to perform these important functions. Until around age 12, your child will have a mix of primary and permanent teeth. You will want to make sure those teeth stay healthy and are lost naturally — when it’s time.
The adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is as true for your child as it is for you. Taking your child to see the dentist early and regularly is an important step to getting your child a lifetime of good health.
A typical program of preventive dentistry for children includes the following components:
- Regular Checkups
- Oral Habits
- Parent Involvement
- Proper Diet
- Sports Safety
During a typical visit to your pediatric dentist, your dentist will examine and professionally clean your child’s teeth, and where necessary – apply sealants to protect your child from tooth decay, prescribe customized sports mouth guards to help your child avoid sports related injuries, give fluoride treatments, provide early diagnosis and care of dental problems, as well as catch potential orthodontic issues.
Your child’s 20 baby teeth will begin to appear usually between six and nine months, though in some cases it may start as early as three months or as late as twelve months. The two lower front teeth tend to erupt first, followed by the two upper ones. The first molars come in next, followed by the canines (eyeteeth). Sometimes your baby can experience teething discomfort during this process. If so, there are courses of action to help make your child more comfortable.
Your infant’s gums and newly erupting teeth should be gently wiped after each feeding with a water-soaked gauze pad or damp washcloth. Starting at age 2, when there are more teeth in the mouth, establish a daily brushing routine with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and no more than a thin smear of fluoridated toothpaste. Your child may need your help with this important task until about the age of 6.
Regular checkups and proper prevention today can reduce major dental problems and expensive treatments later.
Studies have shown that children with good oral health tend to eat better, learn better, do better at school, develop higher confidence, and in general are healthier over all.
Poor oral health, on the other hand, can cause decreased school performance, development of poorer social relationships, and poorer general health.
Preventive dentistry should begin with the eruption of the first tooth.
Take your children’s oral health seriously. Pain from decayed teeth or unhealthy gum can greatly distract a child’s learning abilities as well as eating habits – not to mention quality of life.
A lifetime of good health should begin early with regular preventive care and development of good oral hygiene habits.
After evaluating your child’s dental health, your pediatric dentist will design a personalized program of home care for your child. This program will include proper brushing and flossing instructions, diet counseling, and if necessary, fluoride recommendations. By following these directions, you as a parent can help get your child get a head start on a lifetime of good oral health.
Dental decay is a type of infection of the tooth. Four things are necessary for cavities to form: 1) a tooth; 2) bacteria; 3) sugars or other carbohydrates; and 4) time.
Your pediatric dentist will discuss with you how to prevent cavity by developing healthy habits that make teeth strong, that keep bacteria from organizing into harmful colonies, and that minimizes the time bacteria is in a form that is most destructive.
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and water. Every day, fluoride minerals are replenished from the food we eat and water we drink. Every day, however, minerals are constantly lost when acids – formed from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth – attack the enamel.
Fluoride treatment replenishes the proper balance of fluoride minerals in your child’s teeth. When appropriate, professional fluoride treatments will renew the fluoride content in the enamel of your child’s teeth, strengthening your child’s teeth to prevent cavities.
If your have more questions about whether your child should get fluoride treatment, talk to your pediatric dentist.
The following steps will help your child embark on a lifetime of good dental health:
- Reduce frequent snacking
- Brush effectively twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- Floss daily
- Have sealants applied when appropriate
- Assure proper fluoride through drinking water, fluoride products or fluoride supplements
- Control unhealthy thumb, finger and pacifier habits
- Seek regular dental check-ups
Your pediatric dentist will provide you with other helpful information on preventive care during your regular checkup.
A few precautions during your normal daily routine will go a long way toward reducing the risk of oral trauma to your kid.
If your kid participates in sports, your child should wear sports mouth guards — preferably ones custom-made to fit by a professional such as your pediatric dentist.
If your child is a toddler, use a car seat. For older kids, require them (and everyone else for that matter!) to use seat belts.
You should also childproof your home to reduce the risks of falls, electrical injuries, and choking (i.e. from small objects).
Finally, take your kid to visit your pediatric dentist regularly. Your pediatric dentist will provide a more detailed and tailored advice based on the unique situations of your child.