Caring for our children's baby teeth and teaching them about oral hygiene early helps set a solid foundation for great long-term oral health. Today, our Fort St. John dentists offer tips for helping your young one keep a healthy smile.
Your toddler is learning new things and growing before your eyes. It's critical to care for your little one's baby teeth and their smiles early on, as these years can set the foundation for great lifelong oral health. In this post, we'll explain why baby teeth are important and how to help your toddler maintain a healthy smile.
Why are baby teeth important?
You might be wondering why baby teeth matter since they are not permanent and will eventually fall out. The first baby teeth to erupt are usually the front bottom teeth, which start to break through the gums around 6 months of age. The last baby teeth typically come in in the very back of the mouth, in the upper jaw, around age 3. At this point, your young one will likely have 10 top teeth and 10 bottom teeth.
Baby teeth play many important roles in our young patients' mouths. They are used for eating, speaking and bestowing us with that thousand-watt smile that lights up the room. A child's baby teeth also hold space in the jaws for adult teeth to come in later.
Children usually begin to lose their first baby teeth around age 6, and adult teeth will start to emerge. The timing of this natural tooth loss is critical. If your child loses a baby tooth too early, get in touch with 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?
The best time to create a solid oral health care routine for your child is now. By pairing at-home care with regular dental visits, you can help keep your child's smile healthy.
Limit sugary or acidic treats
Fruit juice and soda can be high in acid and sugar, which hurt your child's baby teeth. Sugary treats such as candy should also be limited, since sugar can weaken tooth enamel and increase your child's risk for cavities.
Brush twice per day (morning and night) to prevent cavities
To keep your newborn's mouth clean, wipe the gums with a wet cloth or pad. For children under age 3, use an ultra-soft toothbrush topped with a rice-sized grain of child-friendly toothpaste. Increase this to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for kids 3 years and older.
Once your child is able to spit out all of the toothpaste after brushing, switch to a fluoridated toothpaste (ask your dentist before switching). Help your child brush your teeth each time until you are sure that your child will brush each tooth thoroughly.
Start flossing once your child's baby teeth have erupted. We can offer special flossers for kids.
See your child's dentist regularly
We recommend parents book their child's first dental appointment no later than their first birthday. By this point, the first baby tooth should have emerged. We'll examine your child's mouth for plaque or cavities, let you know when to expect your baby's next tooth and provide some tips on how to care for your child's teeth at home. Children should visit a dentist every 6 months for a professional checkup and cleaning.
Look into fluoride treatment
This proactive measure can help protect your child's teeth from cavities.
Check into dental sealants for your child
These special coatings are applied to the grooves and pits of a child's molars (back teeth). Dental sealants prevent cavities from forming 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 see the dentist more often for cleanings and checkups, or have special circumstances.