Conscientiously caring for our children's baby teeth and teaching them about oral hygiene early on helps lay a solid foundation for excellent long-term oral health. Here, our Surrey dentists share tips to help your young one maintain a healthy smile.
These are exciting times for your toddler as they learn and grow before your eyes. During these years, it's critical to care for your little one's baby teeth and their smiles, since this is when you have the opportunity to set a solid foundation for your child's lifelong oral health. In this post, we'll discuss why baby teeth are important and how you can help your toddler maintain a healthy smile.
Why are my child's baby teeth important?
You might have wondered why baby teeth are so important. After all, they are not permanent and will eventually fall out. The front bottom teeth are typically the first baby teeth to erupt. These start to emerge through the gums around 6 months of age. The teeth in the very back of the mouth in the upper jaw are typically the last ones to come in around age 3. At this point, your tot will likely have 10 top teeth and 10 bottom teeth.
Baby teeth play an integral role in our young patients' mouths, as they are used for eating, speaking and giving us that thousand-watt smile that lights up the room. A child's baby teeth also hold space in the jaws for adult teeth to erupt later.
Children typically start to lose their baby teeth around age 6, when adult teeth begin to emerge. The timing of their natural tooth loss is vital to development of a healthy smile. If your child loses a baby tooth too early, contact your child's dentist about how the correct space can be kept in the mouth so adult teeth can erupt normally.
How should I care for my child's baby teeth?
Now is the best time to establish a solid health care routine for your young child. By combining at-home care with regular dental visits, you can help keep your child's smile healthy.
Save acidic or sugary treats for special occasions
Soda and fruit juice can contain a high amount of sugar and acid that can cause tooth decay. Sugary treats such as candy should be limited, since sugar weakens tooth enamel and increase your child's risk for cavities.
Brush twice every day (morning and night) to prevent cavities
Keep your newborn's mouth clean by wiping the gums with a wet pad or cloth. For children under age 3, use an ultra-soft toothbrush topped with a rice-sized grain of child-friendly toothpaste. For kids age 3 years and older, you can use a pea-sized amount.
Once your child is able to spit out all of the toothpaste after brushing, switch to a fluoridated toothpaste (discuss with your dentist before switching). Help your child brush their teeth every time until you can be sure that your child will give each tooth the attention it needs.
Once your child's baby teeth have erupted, you can start flossing them. We offer special flossers for kids.
See your child's dentist on a regular basis
We recommend that children visit the dentist for their first appointment no later than their first birthday. By this point, they should have their first baby tooth. We'll check your child's mouth for plaque or cavities and let you know when to expect your baby's next tooth. We can also provide some advice on how to care for your child's teeth at home. Children should see a dentist every 6 months for a professional checkup and cleaning.
Check into fluoride treatment
Taking this proactive action can help protect your child's teeth from cavities.
Look into dental sealants for your child
Your dentist can apply these special coatings to the pits and grooves of your child's molars (back teeth). Dental sealants prevent cavities from developing in a tooth's biting surfaces and may be recommended if your child is at high risk for cavities.
Of course, this is general advice. Some children may need to visit the dentist more often for cleanings and checkups, or have special circumstances.