When your little one’s first tooth comes in, it can be a very exciting time. They’re growing up and soon their sweet gummy smile will be replaced with a pearly white one. This new development does mean some new responsibilities for you, though. Baby teeth aren’t permanent, but they are important to your child’s life-long oral health.
While brushing your child’s baby teeth may be a battle and cause you to question just how important it is to continue, there’s a good reason to practice good oral hygiene with them. Not only will you set them up for good daily brushing habits, but you’ll protect the development of their adult teeth for decades to come.
The good news is that overall, there has been a decrease in childhood cavities. Unfortunately though, cavities have become far more common in children with baby teeth. About 60% of 5-year-olds have at least one cavity, while many of those kinds have multiple cavities. Cavities are caused by bacteria in the mouth, which produce an acid that breaks down the enamel covering your child’s teeth. These bacteria feed on sugar, so the carbohydrates and sugars your child consumes are fuel for tooth decay. This is why dentists recommend that parents swap candy and juice for fresh fruit, since fruit can satisfy your child’s sweet tooth, while also stimulating the gums and increasing saliva production to naturally wash away bacteria.
This is a big problem, since baby teeth play an important role in proper tooth development as your child grows. Dental decay can lead to tooth pain and serious infections. Damaged teeth often need to be pulled out, though removing baby teeth before they are naturally lost can change the way your child’s adult teeth move into place. Many dentists recommend space maintainers until the adult tooth underneath a removed baby tooth comes in. Infection is a significant problem, since it can damage your child’s adult teeth before they even fully develop. Brushing baby teeth can help prevent tooth decay and future dental issues.
How to Care for Your Child’s Teeth
Starting early is key when it comes to brushing your child’s teeth, especially since many kids don’t enjoy the process. Pediatricians and pediatric dentists recommend practicing oral hygiene before teeth even start to develop. At least twice a day, gently wipe your child’s gums with a damp washcloth or piece of gauze to remove bacteria and prevent buildup on the gums. This is especially important after feedings.
Once the first tooth comes in, it’s time to graduate to a soft toothbrush. Look for one with a small head, soft bristles, and a large handle to make it easy to use. Use a grain of rice-sized amount of tooth paste, and he sure to brush all surfaces of their teeth. By the time your child turns 3, you should use to a fluoride toothpaste. Do so when they are able to avoid swallowing the toothpaste and can spit it out. Keep an eye out for signs of tooth decay, which looks like brown spots, white spots, or pits on the surface of their teeth.
If your child goes to bed with a bottle, only fill it with water. Giving them juice or milk during their time in the crib can allow bacteria to grow, since the sugars in these drinks will feed bacteria and increase the acid they produce. Decay caused by baby bottles is so common, it even has a name—baby bottle tooth decay.
Plan your child’s first dentist visit by the time they turn 1 year old. Starting their dental care early can help form the habit of oral care, and can help catch potential issues early. Our team at Austell Dental Associates can perform cleanings and use a fluoride varnish to help strengthen baby teeth and protect them from the damaging effects of bacteria.
Our dentists can also advise you about baby tooth care, teething, fluoride use, thumb sucking, and other habits that can have an impact on your child’s dental health. Caring for your child’s teeth may not be the easiest thing, but we can be a valuable ally and ensure that their oral health has a bright future.
Let Austell Dental Associates help you protect your child’s teeth with our preventative dental care services. We know the importance of good oral health at all ages, and our Austell dentists can advise you on your child’s oral care. Schedule their first appointment today!
Contact our offices by calling (770) 467-3888 to learn more.